Changing Nuclear World Testing Safeguards System
Panelists at Scientific Forum Look at Future IAEA Verification Roles
The IAEA Scientific Forum. (Photo: G. Verlini/IAEA)
Panelists from Brazil, Finland, Japan and the United States joined the Netherlands´ Ruud Lubbers at the IAEA Scientific Forum to sound a trumpet call for change in the way countries verify the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
The Safeguards Session concluded the Scientific Forum at the IAEA General Conference this week. The full Forum Report was presented to the General Conference today.
"The nuclear world is changing, whether we want it to or not," said Finland´s Tero Varjoranta, before emphasizing that the IAEA nuclear safeguards system has to change along with it. Countries agree that the IAEA stands as the world´s central verification body, but they see the evolution of the world´s "verification culture" and the IAEA´s future roles differently, he said. One question is what role the IAEA could play in verifying arms-control and disarmament agreements. Mr. Varjoranta is Director of Finland´s Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority.
Ukraine´s Ambassador Volodymyr Yel´Chenko looked at prospects for the global Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), for which the IAEA is the designated inspectorate. Mr. Yel´Chenko chaired the latest NPT Preparatory Commission Session, and reviewed the outcome, which he characterized as generally positive. However, he was less optimistic when asked to forecast how the next NPT Review Conference might turn out in 2010, pointing to the 2009 PrepCom session as a crucial barometer.
The USA´s William Tobey reported on the "Next Generation Safeguards Initiatiave", a step toward putting into place more effective verification to meet new proliferation challenges arising from expected global nuclear energy expansion. Mr. Tobey is Deputy Administrator of the Office of Defense Nuclear Non-Proliferation, National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). He said the initiative embraces developing advanced safeguards approaches, technologies, and equipment that will cultivate a new generation of specialists with expertise in a broad range of safeguards-relevant disciplines. He noted that the United States is the largest contributor of safeguards technology and personnel to the IAEA, and the initiative is designed to help overcome the increasing strain on IAEA capabilities and resources.
Issues of nuclear disarmament were addressed by Carlos Sergio Sobral Duarte, who heads Brazil´s Department of International Organizations. He pointed out that the IAEA´s Statute allows for an IAEA role in the verification of disarmament or arms control, and cited verification of a fissile material "Cut Off" Treaty, if agreed, as a possible future role.
Japan´s experience with the IAEA in safeguarding sensitive facilities - specifically the Rokassho reprocessing facility - was reviewed with an eye to the future of verification for advanced nuclear fuel cycles. Mr. Takeshi Nakane, newly named to Japan´s Permanent Mission to the IAEA and formerly Director General of Japan´s Department of Disarmament and Non-Proliferation, underlined the country´s commitment to strengthening IAEA safeguards, as well as safety and security. The "3S" approach - which Japan proposed to the Group of 8 in July 2008 - aims to fit the evolving nuclear environment, he said, to ensure the safe and peaceful development of nuclear technology.