Belarus and Malaysia recently signed what is known as an additional protocol to their safeguards agreements with the IAEA, which will eventually allow for more effective and efficient nuclear inspections in their countries. They are the latest of 16 States that have signed additional protocols this year. Overall, the number of additional protocol signatories grew by 20% in 2005 reaching the 100 mark in July.
In addition, eight countries in 2005 signed safeguards agreements with the IAEA pursuant to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
"On the whole, 2005 has been a good year in terms of States concluding comprehensive safeguards agreements and additional protocols," IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said in the Board this week. "However, it is important that we continue and accelerate this trend." The additional protocol must become the universal standard for verifying nuclear non-proliferation commitments, Dr. ElBaradei recently reaffirmed, noting that the expanded access provided by the additional protocol "had proven its worth".
All told, 106 States have signed additional protocols as of 25 November 2005. However, additional protocols are in force with only 69 countries. Protocols are also implemented with Iran and Libya pending formal entry into force.
The Model Additional Protocol was agreed upon in 1997 to strengthen the IAEA safeguards system, based on the wake-up call caused by the discovery of Iraq´s pre-1991 nuclear weapons programme. Once in force, such protocols provide IAEA inspectors with better tools to ensure that States have no undeclared nuclear material or activities that should have been reported to the Agency.