1996 Annual Report

Safeguards statement

Safeguards operations

Safeguards support and development

Safeguards Statement

In fulfilling the safeguards obligations of the Agency in 1996, the Secretariat did not find any indication that nuclear material which had been declared and placed under safeguards was diverted for any military purpose or for purposes unknown, or that safeguarded facilities, equipment or non-nuclear material were misused. All the information available to the Agency supports the conclusion that the nuclear material and other items which had been declared and placed under Agency safeguards remained in peaceful nuclear activities or were otherwise adequately accounted for.

The Agency is still unable to verify the correctness and completeness of the initial declaration of nuclear material made by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the Agency is therefore still unable to conclude that there has been no diversion of nuclear material in the DPRK. The safeguards agreement between the DPRK and the Agency remains in force, and the Agency is continuing to implement safeguards measures in the DPRK under this agreement, including the monitoring of the "freeze" on the DPRK's graphite moderated reactors and related facilities, as requested by the United Nations Security Council and as foreseen in the "Agreed Framework" of October 1994 between the DPRK and the United States of America

The Agency has continued its endeavour to strengthen the effectiveness and to improve the efficiency of the safeguards system. This includes efforts to strengthen the capability for detecting undeclared nuclear material, facilities and activities. A number of measures endorsed by the Board have been implemented. Progress has been made on the development of a model protocol additional to safeguards agreements to provide the necessary authority to implement complementary measures.

As of 31 December 1996, 214 safeguards agreements were in force with 131 States (and with Taiwan, China), compared with 207 agreements with 125 States (and with Taiwan, China) at the end of 1995.

Safeguards agreements pursuant to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) entered into force with Dominica and St. Kitts and Nevis in May and with Monaco in June. A safeguards agreement pursuant to NPT and the Treaty of Tlatelolco entered into force with Grenada in July, with Barbados in August and with Antigua and Barbuda in September.

A project agreement with Nigeria covering the supply of a research reactor and enriched uranium entered into force in August.

The Board of Governors approved draft safeguards agreements with Algeria and with the Czech Republic pursuant to NPT. These agreements had not entered into force at the end of 1996.

As of 31 December 1996, safeguards agreements were in force with 115 States pursuant to NPT. Austria acceded to the safeguards agreement between the non-nuclear-weapon States of EURATOM, EURATOM and the Agency, which entered into force for Austria on 31 July. An agreement through an exchange of letters took place between Chile and the Agency in September confirming that the safeguards agreement concluded with Chile pursuant to the Treaty of Tlatelolco satisfies the obligations of Chile under Article III of the NPT.

For 64 non-nuclear-weapon States party to NPT there is no safeguards agreement in force pursuant to the Treaty. As far as the Agency is aware, five of these States have significant nuclear activities. Out of these five, safeguards were being applied in three States (Argentina, Colombia and Ukraine) pursuant to comprehensive safeguards agreements and in one State (Algeria) pursuant to INFCIRC/66/Rev.2-type safeguards agreements; preparatory work for the application of safeguards is under way in the other State (Georgia).

NPT safeguards agreements are in force with all 11 signatories of the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty (Rarotonga Treaty); safeguards were applied in one of these States (Australia) pursuant to such an agreement. Twenty-four of the 31 States party to the Treaty of Tlatelolco have concluded safeguards agreements with the Agency pursuant to that Treaty and at the end of 1996 safeguards agreements pursuant to the Treaty of Tlatelolco were in force with 23 States. An agreement through an exchange of letters entered into force between St. Lucia and the Agency in June confirming that the safeguards agreement concluded with St. Lucia pursuant to the NPT satisfies the obligations of St. Lucia under Article 13 of the Treaty of Tlatelolco to conclude a safeguards agreement with the Agency.

Safeguards agreements pursuant to Additional Protocol I of the Treaty of Tlatelolco are in force with two of the four States outside Latin America which have jurisdiction over territories in the zone of application of the Treaty (Netherlands and the USA). A similar agreement with a third State (United Kingdom) has been approved by the Board of Governors but has not yet entered into force.

The Secretary of Energy of the USA, the Minister of Atomic Energy of the Russian Federation and the Director General launched a trilateral initiative in September. This related to practical measures to fulfil statements made by the Presidents of the two countries about Agency verification of fissile material from nuclear weapons. It was stressed that such verification would not undermine the two States' obligations under Article I of the NPT. A trilateral group was formed to address the technical, legal and financial issues related to this verification. In November, a trilateral visit took place to sites in the USA at which fissile material excess to US defence requirements is under Agency safeguards.

On the basis of the decision of the Board of Governors following the request of the United Nations Security Council, the Agency has maintained a continuous presence of inspectors in the Nyongbyon area in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) since May 1994. The Agency has also continued to monitor the freeze on the DPRK's graphite moderated reactors and related facilities. By the end of 1996, half of the spent fuel rods from the shutdown 5 MW(e) graphite reactor had been loaded into canisters for long term storage. The canning operations were temporarily suspended at the beginning of November, but resumed in mid-January 1997. Three technical meetings between the DPRK and the Agency were held during the year, one of them in Vienna. Little progress was made on the issue of preservation by the DPRK of information relevant to the history of the DPRK's nuclear programme as required by the Agency for the eventual verification of the completeness and correctness of the DPRK's initial declaration. Also, the DPRK has still not enabled the Agency to implement certain inspection measures, such as measurements of the plutonium content of the spent fuel rods from the 5 MW(e) reactor and monitoring of the nuclear liquid waste at the reprocessing plant (Radiochemical Laboratory).

The Agency's safeguards obligations in Iraq continued to be subsumed under the mandate assigned to the Agency by resolutions of the United Nations Security Council. The Agency continued with the implementation of its plan for the monitoring and verification of Iraq's compliance with the relevant Security Council resolutions through the resident inspectors of the Nuclear Monitoring Group, with the assistance and co-operation of the United Nations Special Commission. The implementation of this plan does not foreclose the exercise by the Agency of its right to investigate further any aspects of Iraq's former nuclear weapons programme, in particular as regards any further information that Iraq may still be withholding from the Agency. The Iraqi counterpart has continued to co-operate with the Agency in a productive way. During 1996, resident inspectors of the Agency conducted 354 inspections at some 107 facilities, 34 of which were inspected for the first time. No instances of activities, equipment or materials proscribed by the relevant Security Council resolutions have been detected. On 7 September, Iraq submitted what it declared was the final version of the "Full, Final, and Complete Declaration" called for in Security Council Resolution 707 (1991). The Agency is undertaking an in-depth appraisal of this document aimed at assessing its correctness and completeness and focusing, in particular, on those areas where, in the opinion of the Agency, Iraq's achievements may have been understated. It can be expected that the assessment of this declaration will require several months to complete.

Safeguards Operations

Following endorsement by the Board of Governors in June 1995 of the Director General's plan to implement at an early date measures to strengthen the effectiveness and improve the efficiency of the safeguards system (described in Part 1 of programme '93+2'), the Agency began implementation of specific measures related, in particular, to broader access to information, increased physical access and optimal use of the present system. Specifically,

- Baseline samples were collected at 6 enrichment facilities in 4 States and at 34 hot cell facilities in 22 States.

- Responses were received from 32 States to a questionnaire sent to all States with comprehensive safeguards agreements relating to their specific State's system of accounting for and control of nuclear material (SSAC). The Agency is developing methodology for the analysis of this information. In addition, responses were received from 23 States regarding information on certain closed down or decommissioned facilities and locations.

- As part of the process of developing in-house procedures for the evaluation of information, a committee was established for the comprehensive review and evaluation of information available to the Agency. The review process will ensure that the extensive knowledge, experience and information available are adequately brought to bear upon and integrated into safeguards conclusions and the Safeguards Implementation Report.

The Agency verified material recovered by the operator from plutonium hold-up inventories in two MOX facilities. The recovered material was characterized and homogenized before destructive analysis (DA) samples were taken.

Safeguards application commenced in one State on irradiated fuel stored in casks. In another State, a different design of dry store under construction necessitated the development of unattended mode safeguards monitoring equipment.

Agency officials visited facilities in Argentina and Brazil as a continuation of the assessment of the completeness and correctness of the initial reports pursuant to the safeguards agreement between Argentina, Brazil, the ABACC and the Agency.

Considerable safeguards work continued to be carried out in the newly independent States (NIS) of the former USSR, in particular:

- Initial inventory verifications were started in Uzbekistan and were completed in Armenia. The initial inventory verifications in Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakstan were continued.

- Installation and upgrading of surveillance systems were completed in most of the nuclear power plants in Ukraine. Two unattended monitoring systems were installed at Chernobyl and the field test was successfully completed.

- A technical visit was carried out in Estonia to prepare for the implementation of safeguards.

Verification activities in 1996

1994 1995 1996

Inspections performed 2 349 2 285 2 476
Person-days of inspection 9 152 10 167 10 831
Seals applied to nuclear material
or safeguards equipment detached and subsequently
verified (including seals applied jointly
with a group of States)
21 746 23 877 27 029
Optical surveillance films reviewed 2 408 2 638 2 173
Video tapes reviewed 2 937 3 807 4 045
Nuclear material samples analysed 1 590 1 246 937
Nuclear material analytical results reported 2 579 2 559 2 200
Environmental samples analysed - - 278
Environmental sample results reported - - 4 200
Nuclear material under safeguards (in tonnes):
Unirradiated plutonium outside reactor cores 40.5 45.0 53.6
Plutonium contained in irradiated fuel 452 512 533
High enriched uranium 19.4 20.5 20.7
Low enriched uranium 41 069 47 260 48 620
Source material (in tonnes) 93 907 104 395 105 395

Progress was made in the negotiation of Subsidiary Arrangements: two new and three revised General Parts of Subsidiary Arrangements (one new and six revised in 1995) and 17 (9 new and 8 revised) facility attachments (16 in 1995) entered into force.

Pursuant to the decision made by the President of the USA in September 1993, the US Government submitted nuclear material deemed excess to requirements for the US nuclear deterrent to Agency safeguards. The Agency carried out monthly inspections of such material at one site containing HEU and at two sites containing plutonium. The initial inventory verification of plutonium at one site started in December 1995 and was completed in June. The initial verification of the quantity of high enriched uranium (HEU) to be blended down to low enriched uranium (LEU) at one facility was carried out. The blending down operation has been deferred until 1997. The safeguards requirements were defined during a stabilization and repackaging process for the plutonium currently subject to Agency safeguards. The safeguards aspects of different options for the disposition of plutonium were evaluated. The feasibility of applying Agency safeguards to the down-blending of HEU using a part of a large uranium enrichment facility was assessed.

Safeguards Support and Development

A report on measures for strengthening safeguards requiring additional legal authority (programme 93+2, Part 2) was submitted to the Board of Governors for consideration in June. The Board endorsed the Secretariat's recommendation that further progress toward providing the Agency with the additional legal authority, namely a Protocol additional to comprehensive safeguards agreements necessary to implement Part 2 measures, required negotiations among States. A Committee of the Board, open to all Member States and all States with a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the Agency, was established. The Committee met twice in the course of the year. It is expected that a consensus text of the Protocol will be available for Board approval in the first half of 1997.

To implement the recently approved measures for strengthening the safeguards system (programme 93+2, Part 1), field trials of an unannounced inspection scheme were carried out from December 1995 to June 1996 at an LEU conversion and fuel fabrication plant in Sweden (with the co-operation of the Swedish Support Programme) and at large research reactors in South Africa and Canada. The results of these field trials demonstrated the feasibility of the inspection scheme at LEU conversion and fabrication plants, which can result in more cost effective safeguards. Training was provided to inspectors for the collection and handling of environmental samples, enhanced observation skills and nuclear fuel cycle proliferation indicators. Evaluation of a six month field trial of a remote monitoring system (RMS) installed in a MOX fuel storage vault in Switzerland has shown the system to be effective in monitoring events of safeguards relevance in near-real-time. RMS components were installed at an HEU storage vault in the USA and testing is under way, including transmission of data to the Agency. Work started on establishing an RMS at an HEU storage vault in South Africa.

During 1996, co-operation between EURATOM and the Agency within the framework of the New Partnership Approach in the area of support activities included: common purchasing of equipment; the holding of joint training courses for inspectors from both organizations; agreement on procedures covering on-site measurements of uranium samples in low enriched fuel fabrication plants and centrifuge enrichment facilities; and testing of new digital surveillance equipment.

Following accession as non-nuclear-weapon States to the NPT by most of the NIS of the former USSR, a number of donor States have extended considerable assistance at a bilateral level to set up appropriate SSAC, as well as physical protection and import/export control systems in the NIS. The Agency's role included preparation of co-ordinated technical support plans and help in identifying specific needs of individual States, and the appropriate donor support.

The Safeguards Analytical Laboratory (SAL) and the Network of Analytical Laboratories (NWAL) performed 1610 measurements for calibration and quality control of non-destructive analysis (NDA) techniques, certification of secondary reference samples, maintenance and improvement of off-site DA and testing procedures for on-site DA. A total of 2850 measurements were also provided by SAL and the NWAL for routine quality control of the analysis of inspection samples. SAL and the NWAL also assisted in the measurement of 85 samples taken in Iraq during inspections carried out pursuant to United Nations Security Council resolutions.

The 'Clean Laboratory' at Seibersdorf, inaugurated in December 1995, started operations in early 1996 with the installation of measurement instruments and the setting up of analytical procedures such as:

- Radiometric techniques for the initial screening of environmental samples, including low background gamma spectrometry and radioisotope excited X ray fluorescence spectrometry;

- Thermal ionization mass spectrometry for the measurement of uranium and plutonium isotopics and elemental content.

The initial work of the Clean Laboratory dealt with certifying the cleanliness level of the class-100 rooms and in measuring the blank level of uranium in all reagents and labware used for handling actual samples.

The NWAL was expanded to include specialized laboratories in three Member States to assist SAL in the analysis of environmental samples.

Acceptance tests on two new digital image surveillance systems (EMOSS and Gemini) were initiated. Some 30 units of each type were acquired and by the end of the year 17 EMOSS and 2 Gemini units had been installed in various facilities for extensive field testing. The remaining units will be installed in the first quarter of 1997 with a goal to complete the testing and evaluate the results by the third quarter of 1997.

With the assistance of a Member State support programme, a new miniature multichannel analyser was developed for use by the Agency and EURATOM. The device forms a multipurpose instrument platform covering most of the safeguards NDA verification methods requiring portable equipment and is commercially available.

Unique cadmium telluride detectors were developed for the Agency under contracts in four Member States. The performance of one detector type exceeds presently available detectors in detection efficiency by more than an order of magnitude. A second type has an energy resolution comparable to that of germanium detectors, but does not require liquid nitrogen cooling.

An Advisory Group meeting was held in Vienna in November to review the integrated safeguards instrumentation programme. Its major conclusion was that the principles of the programme, aimed at standardizing equipment and reducing support costs, should be adopted and implemented.

The Safeguards Traineeship Programme held an intensive ten month training programme for six trainees from developing countries. The programme is designed to increase the number of qualified candidates from these countries who would be available for filling Professional posts in the Agency and to enhance their technical skills and competence regarding safeguards implementation. Four trainees have been offered positions with the Agency.