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Sampling the Environment for Undeclared Nuclear Activities

Video: Katy Laffan, Martin Klingenböck

IAEA inspectors from the Agency’s headquarters in Vienna, Austria collect samples containing dust particles at nuclear facilities and other locations, using a process known as environmental sampling. These samples, in the form of cotton swipes, allow the analysis of traces of nuclear materials that can reveal information about the current and past activities at a nuclear facility and verify whether a state is abiding by its legal commitment not to divert nuclear material from peaceful activities or engage in non-declared nuclear activities.

Through a range of technical measures, or Safeguards, the IAEA verifies that states are honouring these international legal obligations. Its independent verification work allows the IAEA to play an indispensable role in preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.

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