In its Written Ministerial Statement of 11 January 2018, the Government set out its commitment to put in place all the necessary measures to ensure that the UK can operate as an independent and responsible nuclear state upon the UK’s withdrawal from Euratom. As made clear in a further Written Ministerial Statement of 26 March 2018, the UK will take legal responsibility for its own nuclear safeguards regime when Euratom safeguards arrangements no longer apply.
The necessary measures include the negotiation of new bilateral safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). I am pleased to announce that on 7 June 2018 the UK and the IAEA signed these new agreements – a Voluntary Offer Agreement and Additional Protocol – and we intend to bring these to Parliament for ratification this autumn. The new agreements will replace the current trilateral agreements between the UK, the IAEA and Euratom.
The conclusion of these agreements marks the successful achievement of a major Euratom Exit milestone and an important step towards ensuring business continuity for the civil nuclear sector once Euratom arrangements cease to apply to the UK.
On 26 June 2018, the Nuclear Safeguards Bill, which provides the necessary powers to establish a domestic nuclear safeguards regime, received Royal Assent.The passage of this Bill marks another important Euratom Exit milestone and paves the way for the secondary legislation, on which the Government will be publicly consulting over the summer, to be put in place before the end of March 2019.
The Government has also progressed its discussions on Nuclear Cooperation Agreements (NCAs) with priority countries to ensure continuity for the civil nuclear sector. On 4 May 2018 the UK signed a bilateral NCA with the United States of America, and remains on track to have bilateral agreements with all priority countries in place when Euratom arrangements cease to apply to the UK.
In parallel with the above, the Government is negotiating with the EU on the UK's separation from, and future relationship with, Euratom. The UK and EU have now reached agreement on all Euratom related articles of the draft Withdrawal Agreement. The relevant text has therefore been finalised.
There is more detail on these matters in the second quarterly update which has today been provided to Parliament by way of a report. The paper will be placed in the libraries of the House. As Royal Assent of the Nuclear Safeguards Bill was received on 26 June, the content and timing of these reporting updates to Parliament will be determined by the relevant provisions of that legislation.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: