Verifying Non-Proliferation and Facilitating Peaceful Nuclear Technologies

IAEA's Role in the NPT

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano at the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), United Nations, New York, USA. (Photo: UN)

On 3 May 2010, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano addressed the opening session of the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The full text of the Director General's statement is available here.

The 190 States that are party to the NPT aim to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, foster nuclear energy´s peaceful uses and speed nuclear disarmament. Under the Treaty, the IAEA is mandated to verify that nuclear materials and technologies are not used to make nuclear weapons, as well as to help increase access to peaceful nuclear technologies´ benefits. Every five years since 1970, the NPT is reviewed by its States Parties to be assured that these aims are being realised.

Verification

Through the "comprehensive safeguard agreements" set out in the NPT´s third article, the IAEA verifies that a State has made a complete and accurate declaration of all types and quantities of nuclear material and nuclear-related activities. Verification can include evaluation, on-site inspections, visits, containment by sealing equipment and remote surveillance with cameras. Currently, safeguard agreements are in force in 172 States.

In countries under comprehensive safeguards, the IAEA accounts for all "source and special fissionable material", which are substances that are crucial in producing nuclear weapons, plutonium-239, uranium-233 and uranium-235.

Enhanced Inspection Authority

The safeguards agreements concluded under the NPT are strengthened by the Additional Protocol. This complementary legal agreement grants the IAEA expanded rights of access to information and sites. The Additional Protocol furnishes the IAEA with the legal capacity to provide assurance regarding declared activities, as well as to determine the absence of undeclared activities. Additional Protocols are now in force for 98 States.

Furthering Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy

In its fourth Article, the NPT grants every State Party the right to exchange equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The IAEA has the duty to support nuclear applications´ peaceful development, especially to meet developing countries´ needs.

Science and Technology Foster Sustainable Development

The IAEA serves as an authoritative, independent source of information, knowledge, capacity building and expertise to support nuclear energy´s peaceful uses. The Agency´s support includes exchanging scientific and technical information, training scientists and experts, as well as establishing effective, global safety and security standards. A robust nuclear safety and security culture is promoted to be certain that peaceful nuclear technologies can be fully utilized and expanded.

Currently, 125 Member States benefit directly from the IAEA´s Technical Cooperation programme, which enables developing countries to utilize nuclear science and technology for peaceful purposes. The programme improves human health, helps water resource management, and advances sustainable energy development. Scores of Member States receive the Agency´s support in enhancing nuclear safety and security. Nuclear techniques boost plant and animal production, advance rural development, while helping to reduce and mitigate the impact of climate change. Nuclear tools combat insects and diseases, improve food safety and help to cut air pollution. Radiotherapy saves the lives of cancer sufferers throughout the developing world.

Cancer Control

The IAEA´s cancer expertise lies in radiotherapy and nuclear medicine. Since 1980, the Agency has delivered cancer-related assistance to developing countries, providing equipment and training valued at over $220 million. Through the IAEA´s Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT), launched in 2004, the IAEA works with partners such as the World Health Organization and to improve cancer control in developing countries. More than 80 developing countries receive aid in upgrading their cancer treatment facilities and personnel.

The range of IAEA activities that broaden access to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy has grown steadily in response to the complexity of the issues its Member States are addressing. In the future, the IAEA expects that its Member States will require increasing support in introducing nuclear power, improving human health, enhancing food safety and security and sustainably managing natural resources.

Last update: 13 November 2014