Department of Safeguards

The primary role of the Department of Safeguards (SG) is to deter the proliferation of nuclear weapons. It does so in two ways: by providing credible assurances that States are honouring their international obligations, thus helping to build international confidence, and by being able to detect any misuse of nuclear material or technology early on, thereby alerting the world to potential proliferation. To do so, the Department applies various technical measures referred to as ‘safeguards’ to verify the correctness and the completeness of the declarations made by States about their nuclear material and activities. IAEA safeguards are an essential component of the international security system. The Department has the following Divisions and Offices:

  • Office of the Deputy Director General
  • Divisions of Operations
  • Division of Concepts and Planning
  • Division of Information Management
  • Division of Technical Support
  • Office of Safeguards Analytical Services
  • Office of Information and Communications Systems


Office of the Deputy Director General

The Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Safeguards is responsible for the overall supervision of the Department, including, operations coordination, development and implementation of major projects, interacting with Member States, physical and information security, programme and budget, human resources, effectiveness evaluation, change management, health and safety (including radiation protection safety), communication and interdepartmental coordination.

Within the Deputy Director General's Office of Safeguards, there are the:

  • Office of Coordination and Communication, responsible for the coordination of those activities and initiatives that have Department-wide implications or significance, and for the Department's communications strategy;
  • Section for Effectiveness Evaluation, responsible for the evaluation of safeguards implementation and preparation of the annual Safeguards Implementation Report to the Board of Governors;
  • Section for Programme and Resources, responsible for managing the Department's human and financial resources, and for preparing the verification programme and budget proposals to Member States.


Divisions of Operations

The three Divisions of Operations play a pivotal role in verifying that for States with safeguards agreements in force, there is no diversion of declared nuclear material from peaceful nuclear activities and no indications of undeclared nuclear material or activities in the State as a whole. Each of the Divisions of Operations is responsible for the implementation of safeguards in a different geographical area: 

  • Division of Operations A - Australasia and East Asia 
  • Division of Operations B - Middle East, South Asia, Africa, some non-EU European states, and the Americas
  • Division of Operations C - Europe, the Russian Federation and Central Asia

Each Division conducts an evaluation of the consistency of the State's declared nuclear programme against the results of the Agency's verification activities under the relevant Safeguards Agreement, Additional Protocol (where applicable) and with all other safeguards-relevant information available to the Agency. In particular, a comprehensive State evaluation is conducted based on all information available to the Agency about the State's nuclear and nuclear-related activities.


Division of Concepts and Planning

The Division of Concepts and Planning is responsible for conducting strategic planning for the Department and coordinating research and development activities, including the management of Member State Support Programmes. The Division also develops concepts, approaches and methods for safeguarding nuclear material, facilities and activities, as well as preparing safeguards policy and guidance documentation, assisting the Divisions of Operations with safeguards implementation issues, and supporting advisory and policy-making bodies. Further, Division's responsibilities also include providing assistance to personnel from Member States through training, advisory missions and guidance documents. Annually, the Division also organizes and conducts around 100 training courses for departmental staff and implements a quality management system to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of departmental processes.

Division of Information Management

The Division of Information Management is responsible for the operation and development of a pool of specialized information analysts and data processing specialists, and the receipt, processing and analysis of accounting data and additional protocol declarations. The Division also provides evaluation of material balance and other statistical support; evaluation of analytical results of nuclear material, non-nuclear material and environmental samples. Additionally, the work of the Division includes collection, processing and analysis of scientific, technical and political literature, including trade related information; collection, processing and analysis of geospatial information; and the development and implementation of new information collection, processing and analysis techniques and methodologies.

Division of Technical Support

The Division of Technical Support is responsible for providing scientific and technical support to the Divisions of Operations including: design, development, testing, calibration, installation and maintenance of safeguards equipment; performance and contamination monitoring of equipment; and inspection logistics.

Office of Safeguards Analytical Services

The Office of Safeguards Analytical Services is responsible for the analysis of nuclear material and environmental swipe samples, the provision of associated sampling and quality control materials, as well as the coordination of sample shipment logistics and cooperation with Member State institutions in the Network of Analytical Laboratories (NWAL). The Office contains the Safeguards Analytical Laboratories (SAL), comprised of the Environmental Sample Laboratory and the Nuclear Material Laboratory (including the On-Site Laboratory in Rokkasho, Japan), and a Coordination and Support Section, responsible for the planning, coordination and reporting of the analytical results from the NWAL; radiation protection; quality management; training and other technical support. The Enhancing the Capabilities of the Safeguards Analytical Services (ECAS) project aims to construct sustainable laboratory space and strengthen the IAEA's capabilities for timely and independent analysis of nuclear material, and to meet the additional safety and security requirements of a modern laboratory.

Office of Information and Communications Systems

Within the Department of Safeguards, the Office of Information and Communication Systems (SGIS) is the centre of competence for the specification, development and maintenance of information and communication technology (ICT) systems and for the management of all ICT infrastructure and services to support safeguards. In partnership with other organizational entities, SGIS is responsible for planning and implementing an ICT strategy as well as enforcing ICT standards.

For more information, see Safeguards →