Prime Minister Scott Morrison has met with the international nuclear watchdog to quell fears Australia’s nuclear-powered submarines will breach the non-proliferation treaty.
Mr Morrison said he had a “very positive meeting” with the International Atomic Energy Agency on the sidelines of the COP26 climate summit and there was no threat of Australia undermining the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
“Australia, especially in the Pacific, has a very strong record when it comes to nuclear non-proliferation,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
“Australia can speak volumes about the consistent approach we have had in the Indo-Pacific.”
Indonesian officials have flagged expanding the treaty to include the non-peaceful usage of nuclear technology, closing what they called a “loophole” exposed by Australia’s nuclear-submarine deal with the US and UK.
But officials from Australia’s foreign affairs department told a recent Senate estimates hearing the acquisition of nuclear-propelled submarines was in accordance with the country’s non-proliferation requirements.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne is set to visit southeast Asian nations including Indonesia and Malaysia, which have criticised the new submarine plan.
Mr Morrison previously told ASEAN officials Australia had no intention of acquiring nuclear weapons and remained deeply committed to nuclear non-proliferation following the announcement.
Only six countries have nuclear-powered submarines, the five nuclear weapons states – the US, UK, Russia, China and France – and India, which has not signed the treaty.
The IAEA director-general said the agency would work with the AUKUS security partnership to ensure any new submarines were compliant with the treaty.