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IAEA safeguards for international peace and security

Rafael Mariano Grossi

Rafael Grossi

“The IAEA continues to rise to the challenge of inspecting ever greater volumes of nuclear material and an increasing number of facilities.”

— Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General, IAEA

The IAEA was established in 1957, in response to the power of nuclear energy unleashed by the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction created by physicists 15 years earlier. The Agency has a dual mission to promote and to control the atom.

To the public, the IAEA is best known as the ‘nuclear watchdog’ for its crucial role in preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons. As part of a robust safeguards system, our on-site inspections ensure that nuclear material designed for peaceful purposes is not diverted for military use.  

IAEA safeguards are scientifically based and deploy state-of-the-art technologies. This Bulletin offers readers a glimpse into that work. For example, it describes how the instruments used to gather and process information are enhanced by technological developments, such as satellite imagery and artificial intelligence.

Around 870 staff from nearly 100 countries make up the IAEA’s Department of Safeguards, of which a core group of about 275 inspectors are regularly deployed for on-site verification activities. In this publication, inspectors share their experiences in the field and provide a glimpse into their toolbox.

The IAEA continues to rise to the challenge of inspecting ever greater volumes of nuclear material and an increasing number of facilities. Globally, more than 1300 facilities and other locations are under IAEA safeguards. In 2021 alone, IAEA inspectors verified about 27 900 seals applied for the containment of nuclear material or critical equipment.

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and regional nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties obligate non-nuclear-weapon States to bring into force comprehensive safeguards agreements (CSAs) with the IAEA. This year marks 50 years since the entry into force of the first CSA, and 25 years of the additional protocol. From peer review missions to training and advisory services, the Agency provides support to States so they can meet their safeguards obligations.

As the world’s nuclear inspectorate, the Agency works diligently to fulfil its duty to implement safeguards on every inhabited continent. Our independent, objective and technical verification work provides a critical contribution to the international non-proliferation regime and will continue, no matter the challenge, to help foster global peace and security.


October, 2022
Vol. 63-3

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