House of Lords committee quotes IOP evidence in report on Brexit and energy

29 January 2018

A House of Lords report published today, which raises serious concerns about the security of the UK’s energy supply post-Brexit and our withdrawal from the Euratom treaty, quotes from IOP evidence on safeguards in trading nuclear materials and the need to maintain access to research in both nuclear fission and fusion.

The report, Brexit: energy security, produced by the House of Lords’ EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee, argues that Brexit puts the UK’s current frictionless trade in energy with the EU at risk and urges the Government to take steps to protect the UK’s energy supply.

It also contends that the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) treaty is fundamental to the current functioning of nuclear energy generation in the UK and calls on the Government to ensure contingency arrangements are in place and to review the possibility of a Euratom-specific transition period separate from the wider Brexit process.

Discussing trade in nuclear materials, it quotes IOP’s evidence that: “Article III of the international Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons requires signatories to ensure countries with which they trade comply with international safeguards … Currently, the UK meets its safeguarding requirements through Euratom, as Euratom provides safeguarding inspections for more than 100 UK facilities (including non-power-producing nuclear facilities)”, and that therefore the UK will have to make “new arrangements to comply with the non-proliferation treaty”, IOP says, before concluding its own Nuclear Co-operation Agreements.

On nuclear research, it quotes IOP’s evidence that: “The UK does not have any of its own civil research reactors … This makes UK access to European research reactors and the ability to access the results of the R&D that takes place there all the more important to nuclear fission research.”

On fusion, it quotes IOP’s argument that: “The UK is a world leader in nuclear fusion research and its continued involvement in EU projects is vital for this to continue” and that “the UK has committed to funding its share of [the Joint European Torus] JET until 2020–21 but the EU still needs to agree to contribute its share of the funding for the project to continue beyond 2018.”

Discussing JET’s successor, currently under construction in France, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), the report quotes IOP’s evidence that: “For the UK to continue to have involvement in ITER and remain a leader in nuclear fusion, a new multilateral cooperation agreement must be negotiated.”

IOP Policy Officer Florence Greatrix welcomed the report. “The committee has highlighted the wide-ranging issues relating to the UK leaving Euratom,” she said. “While the Nuclear Safeguards Bill is an important step to establish a new safeguards regime, many other issues remain to be resolved, including the trade of nuclear materials, the implications for research and development in fission and fusion, and access to facilities and international collaborations, including JET and ITER.”

IOP will continue to work closely with our members and other partners to raise various issues relating to Euratom and, more widely, the Brexit negotiations.