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Volume 174: debated on Thursday 14 June 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what developments have taken place since 1985 in safeguards to ensure that non-nuclear weapons states acquiring reprocessing facilities do not use plutonium for military purposes.

We have full confidence in the safeguards arrangements which are currently applied by the International Atomic Energy Agency which has reported no evidence of diversion of civil nuclear material to non-peaceful use.In recent years there has been a series of meetings to consider the application of safeguards techniques to large-scale commercial reprocessing plants, in which the United Kingdom has been involved; this programme is continuing. Furthermore, the United Kingdom has, since 1981, carried out a safeguards research and development programme, which is funded to the sum of approximately £1 million annually, in support of the International Atomic Energy Agency. A substantial proportion of this programme is devoted to the development of techniques relevant to the safeguarding of reprocessing plants.