Evolution of safeguards requirements

The IAEA must be able to verify the correctness and completeness of the statement that it receives from States concerning the nuclear materials included in safeguards agreements. For a State that has a safeguards agreement in force, the IAEA must be able to conclude that all the nuclear material that has been placed under safeguards remains in peaceful nuclear activities or has been otherwise adequately accounted for. In addition, in States with an Additional Protocol in force the IAEA must be able to draw conclusions about both the non-diversion of declared nuclear material and the absence of undeclared material and activities for the State as a whole.

The basic verification measure used by the IAEA is nuclear material accountancy. IAEA safeguards inspectors make independent measurements to verify quantitatively the amount of nuclear material presented in a State’s accounts. For this purpose, inspectors verify the inventory of items such as fuel assemblies, bundles, rods and containers of powdered uranium or plutonium compounds, and measure the attributes of these items during their inspections using non-destructive assay (NDA) techniques for gross and partial defect determination. In addition, for bulk items, samples are taken for off-site destructive analysis for bias defect determination.

Containment and surveillance (C/S) techniques, which are complementary to nuclear material accountancy techniques, are applied in order to maintain continuity of knowledge gained through IAEA verification. A variety of C/S techniques are used, primarily video surveillance and sealing. These measures serve to back up nuclear material accountancy by providing means by which access to nuclear material can be monitored and any undeclared movement of material detected.

A variety of facility specific unattended monitoring systems have also been developed and installed to verify nuclear material movements and transfers and to maintain continuity of knowledge. These systems can operate in areas that are difficult for inspectors to access and can operate for extended periods of time between servicing. These characteristics add significantly to the effectiveness and the cost efficiency of the safeguards measures being applied. In remote monitoring, unattended equipment transmits the data off-site. For unattended and remote monitoring, additional criteria must be met, including high reliability and authentication of the data source. Expanded deployment of unattended and remote monitoring systems will become an increasingly important element of IAEA safeguards in efforts to maintain or increase effectiveness without increasing resources allocated to inspectors or overall costs.

In the 1990s there were significant non-proliferation related developments worldwide, resulting in a new period of safeguards development. An assessment was made over several years of how to strengthen the effectiveness and improve the efficiency of IAEA safeguards. In May 1997 this culminated in the approval by the IAEA Board of Governors of a Model Protocol Additional to Safeguards Agreements that significantly broadens the role of IAEA safeguards. As a consequence, the IAEA safeguards system entered a new era with extensive effort for the development of the integrated safeguards approaches, required equipment and criteria.

Along with the technological challenge for safeguards equipment to satisfy traditional as well as additional protocol needs is a strong requirement to increase the efficiency and improve the effectiveness of inspection activities. Safeguards equipment is required to satisfy demanding functionality, usability and reliability criteria, be easily transportable and tamper-proof, provide complete and authenticated data, be adaptable to changing requirements, be available in the required quantities at an affordable cost, be able to be cost effectively implemented in demanding nuclear environments, be compatible with other safeguards equipment and be compatible with the capabilities and training of staff. This leaflet provides an overview of some of the safeguards equipment developed recently specifically to address these requirements.

Equipping inspectors

The complexity and diversity of facilities containing safeguarded nuclear material require a correspondingly diverse set of verification techniques and equipment. Tables I–III list the main types of facilities where inspections are performed, the primary verification techniques that are implemented at these facilities and the quantities of safeguards equipment available for use by inspectors.


TABLE I. Number of facilities under safeguards in 2001

Enrichment plants
Conversion and
fuel fabrication plants
Power reactors and
storage facilities
Reprocessing plants




a Reactors.
Separate storage facilities.

TABLE II. Main techniques deployed in different facility types

Enrichment plants

Material: UF6

Conversion and
fuel fabrication plants

Materials: U and Pu oxides, and MOX

Power reactors and
storage facilities

Materials: irradiated fuel

Reprocessing plants

Materials: U and Pu nitrates

Gamma ray spectrometry, weighing,
destructive analysis

Gamma ray spectrometry,
neutron counting, weighing,
destructive analysis, video surveillance

Video surveillance,
fuel flow monitoring,
Cerenkov glow detection,
gamma ray detection,
neutron detection

destructive analysis,
fuel flow monitoring,
gamma ray detection, neutron detection,
video surveillance

TABLE III. Summary of equipment statistics for 2001

Number of


Inspections where different NDA techniques were used
Gamma ray spectral systems available for inspections
Neutron measurement systems available for inspections
Spent fuel measurement systems available for inspections
Other measurement systems available for inspections
Unattended radiation monitoring systems installed
Material inspection sample analyses
Environmental samples taken
Metal seals used/verified by the IAEA
Single camera surveillance systems installed
Multicamera surveillance systems/cameras installed
113/ 520

The equipment provided to inspectors is used to perform the essential functions of measurement, monitoring and identification. Attended systems provide the tools necessary to make the determinations required by safeguards approaches and criteria. Unattended systems provide essential continuity of knowledge between inspector visits and record data that supports the drawing of safeguards conclusions. Together these instruments add efficiency and effectiveness to inspection activities. In 2001 the IAEA Department of Safeguards added about US $10 million worth of new equipment to the safeguards inventory. In 2002 the inventory of safeguards equipment stands at a total of 25 000 items with a cost of US $92 million, having a value after depreciation of US $24 million.

In addition to the capital cost, each equipment type has two cost components: development and support. Development is accomplished primarily through Member State Support Programmes that provide a valuable and essential service to the IAEA to develop approaches and procedures for effective and efficient meeting of safeguards equipment requirements, to develop needed equipment not available on the commercial market and to upgrade standard safeguards equipment with current technology and improved capabilities. Support is provided by in-house human and facility resources for services such as installation, testing and commissioning, set-up and calibration, inspector training, maintenance and repair, and inventory management.

The demanding role of safeguards equipment means that it requires continuous improvement by the incorporation of advances in technology and the addition of needed functionalities. Maintaining the equipment at the current level of technology is an ongoing process that combines commercial advances, development skills, the evolution of safeguards requirements and the resources available for acquisition, implementation and support.

Development of equipment and techniques for safeguards is continuing with the help of Member State Support Programmes that assist the IAEA in keeping abreast of the evolution of new technology. The IAEA defines the safeguards needs, co-ordinates the support programmes, and tests and evaluates the techniques being developed and the resulting equipment. All aspects of equipment performance are evaluated, including compliance with specifications, reliability, transportability and, most importantly, suitability for use by IAEA inspectors in nuclear facilities. The IAEA has an established quality assurance procedure to authorize equipment and software for routine inspection use.

The following section gives some of the more recent examples of equipment developed and implemented for specific safeguards requirements.


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