IAEA & European Commission Mark Nuclear Safeguards Partnership

The European Commission supports the training of IAEA safeguards inspectors. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

Representatives from the European Commission and the IAEA today celebrated 25 years of joint work in safeguarding nuclear material. The Commission supports the training of inspectors and develops advanced tools and equipment to help them check and verify the uses of safeguarded nuclear materials and facilities.

To mark the anniversary, representatives attended a special event in Karlsruhe, Germany, home to the European Commission´s Directorate General Joint Research Centre (DG JRC).

IAEA´s Deputy Director General for Safeguards, Mr. Olli Heinonen, stressed a growing need for continued international cooperation to meet the challenges ahead of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime.

"In order to move forward we will need the support of States and organizations capable of helping us in the development of these advanced technologies," Mr. Heinonen said.

"Over the last decades, the DG JRC has provided us with tremendous scientific and technical support which has enabled us to perform our duties. This has had a positive impact on the security, not only of the citizens of the European Union, but also for people worldwide."

"Much has been achieved in the areas of nuclear material and environmental sample analysis; non-destructive assay; containment and surveillance; and training of inspectors," he said.

Mr. Heinonen added that DG JRC also provided significant support to the IAEA on the implementation of safeguards at Japan´s Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant (RRP), the largest reprocessing facility ever placed under safeguards.

Nuclear safeguards is a set of activities by which the IAEA verifies that a State is living up to its international undertakings not to divert any nuclear materials in peaceful use for military purposes.

The EU Science and Research Commissioner, Mr. Janez Potocnik, emphasized that the work on nuclear safeguards was extremely important for global security.

"Our work with the IAEA will remain fundamental to what we do in this field," he said. "I am sure the next 25 years will be as successful as the last."

Since 1981, a total of 66 projects have been completed within the framework of the European Commission Support Programme to the IAEA. Among these were mapping of nuclear sites using satellite imagery; collecting and analysing open source information; developing and implementing methods for nuclear and environmental sample analyses including world leading expertise in secondary ion mass spectrometry; providing reference materials for nuclear and environmental sampling analysis; supporting the design and commissioning of the on-site laboratory at R R P; developing a sealing system for LWR MOX fuel assemblies; developing solution monitoring systems for tanks at a number of nuclear facilities - especially RRP; developing and testing of algorithms for the non-destructive assay (NDA) of uranium, and training IAEA inspectors in those fields.

There are currently 26 active joint projects under the support programme, and future work is planned to include further assistance in environmental sampling and particle analysis; improved support for NDA algorithms to ensure that these remain freely available to the IAEA; assistance with the development of a 3D camera; as well as more training, particularly for complementary access and NDA.

Last update: 11 November 2014