Sheikh Abdullah (translated from Arabic): In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. It is a great honour for me to welcome my colleague the Minister for Foreign Affairs from a country which is a friend of ours, and a very close one to the UAE. Although the bilateral relationship is relatively new, it is nevertheless of special importance to the two governments. Firstly, it includes growing trade volumes between the two countries; secondly, an Australian expatriate community of 15,000 in the UAE; and thirdly a growing number of weekly flights. All of these factors are proof of the strength of the bilateral relationship. There is also cooperation at the political level and on several policy fronts. The UAE endorses Australia’s candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the UNSC, and there are other areas of political cooperation. Today, we have witnessed the signing of an agreement of great importance to the UAE, and we thank the Australian Government for reaching an agreement on the cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Of course, there are other areas of cooperation which bring the two countries closer, such as military ties, education ties (with over 1,000 Emiratis studying in Australia today) — these are all examples of how important this relationship is for the two countries — and of course I must thank the Australian Government for paving the way to thousands, tens of thousands of Emiratis who visit Australia every year for enjoyable holidays. Thank you Minister for giving importance to this relationship, and welcome to the UAE.
Senator Carr: Your Highness I am pleased to be making my first visit as Minister for Foreign Affairs to the UAE. The UAE is a valued partner for Australia in the Middle East - a region of global strategic importance. Our bilateral relations are strong and continue to expand, and these growing ties are supported and reflected by the rapid increase in air links in recent years. In fact the UAE is our largest Middle East trading partner with two-way trade in the order of $6.4 billion. But this agreement which I’ve signed with His Highness represents an important step in bilateral relations and we’re pleased and honoured to be part of the UAE’s long term civil nuclear energy plans.
Sheikh Abdullah (in English): Your Excellency, may we take questions?
Senator Carr: Yes.
Question: Can you just first of all give an explanation about the elaboration of this contract that you signed today, I mean, the economic benefits for both countries, and what other future collaboration between both countries regarding this contract or like this nuclear treaty.
Senator Carr: In Australian terms, it represents a gain in market for Australian uranium. We pride ourselves on being a good supplier of raw materials and energy. It will underpin jobs in the Australian uranium mining sector, and mining jobs are a very significant part of Australia’s prosperity. It’s a very comfortable relationship for us because of the UAE’s reputation and its responsible model for nuclear power generation, particularly in decision to forego enrichment and reprocessing of nuclear material in the UAE. In addition the UAE has in place an independent nuclear regulator. So, a good market, an opportunity for Australia to be a responsible global citizen and responsibility for us to expand our links with this important nation.
Sheikh Abdullah (translated from Arabic): The UAE’s nuclear program is one that is no doubt on par with international standards. From the inception of the program, there was a mandate to diversify the UAE’s energy sources from oil and gas to renewable energy, solar, or clean energy such as nuclear. The UAE drafted a paper clarifying its policy, detailing that firstly, the Emirates is not interested in any enrichment programs, secondly the Emirates will not engage in any projects related to reprocessing of nuclear material and thirdly the presence of an agency or an organisation, an institution responsible for the independent regulation and supervision of the Emirati nuclear program and which will present reports that are transparent and clear to the international community. We believe that we have set a gold standard for the international community in terms of a mechanism to deal with our nuclear program. There is no doubt that the importance of today’s agreement between Australia and UAE is sourced not just from the strength of our ties but it is a new element of this relationship between the two countries. Australia is one of the major countries with 40% of the world uranium reserves, and no doubt Australia has a long history and expertise in exporting uranium to international markets. And today we are celebrating a new stage in our relationship which is proof of the level of trust that binds the two countries.
Question: Sorry, can you guys clarify what the deal actually entails?
Senator Carr: It’s a commitment by Australia setting out the conditions under which nuclear material will be supplied to the UAE for peaceful non-explosive purposes. It includes a series of provisions to ensure that there are proper protections against wrongful use of the nuclear material or related equipment. Article 5 commits both parties to take all necessary measures to ensure that nuclear safety and radioactive waste management is consistent with relevant international legal obligations. Article 6 requires both parties to take all necessary measures to ensure adequate physical protection of nuclear material and other equipment under the agreement. Article 9 explicitly limits the use of any material under the agreement to peaceful purposes and prohibits the use for manufacture of nuclear weapons or other explosive nuclear devises. So, for Australia’s purposes, the agreement provides the framework in which we can become a reliable supplier of uranium to the UAE which is a responsible user of uranium, and following signature the treaty will be tabled in the parliament and submitted to the committee of our parliament for review and I think it’s a proud piece of work for both the UAE and Australia.
Question: What is the life of the agreement and also what is the capacity per annum for the imports?
Senator Carr: As I see it, it establishes a framework under which we supply uranium as long as both sides remain committed to it. And the details get fleshed out by commercial contracts, so the commercial contracts will spell out the framework under which commercial companies in Australia, miners in Australia can supply to the users here.
Sheikh Abdullah (translated from Arabic): Of course, this is not a commercial agreement; this is an agreement between the two countries that defines the framework of the relationship in this sector. Further work is required in the future between the Emirati importer of uranium and the Australian exporter to agree on the quantity, price, and quality of the uranium. No doubt there is a commitment between the two governments to shift the relationship to a new level, and to give opportunities to Australian and Emirati companies to cooperate in this field. Thank you.
- Minister's office: (02) 6277 7500
- DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555