The IAEA Board of Governors has moved to strengthen the nuclear safeguards system. The Board agreed on modifications to what is known as a Small Quantities Protocol (SQP) designed for States that have little or no nuclear material and no nuclear material in facilities. The protocols are in force with 76 States as addendums to their comprehensive safeguards agreements with the IAEA.
The IAEA has been reviewing the implementation of SQPs for some time. In June 2005, the Board endorsed the view that SQPs constitute a weakness of the safeguards system, and considered strengthening options. In early September, the Agency conducted a seminar for Member States to provide detailed answers to relevant technical, legal and financial questions associated with those options.
Specifically, the Board-approved modifications include requirements that States provide initial reports to the IAEA inspectorate on all their nuclear material and early design information for any planned nuclear facilities, and that reinstate the Agency´s right to conduct inspections in SQP States. The previous SQP standard text allowed States to possess small amounts of nuclear material without having to report those holdings to the IAEA.
IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei commended the Board´s action, calling the decision "timely and necessary". "It redresses some important limitations," he said, "and will serve to reinforce the nuclear safeguards system."
As a next step, the IAEA will be contacting SQP States on the necessary changes to texts of the protocols. See below for additional background information about SQPs and the IAEA safeguards system.
Background Facts about Small Quantities Protocols
- 76 States have SQPs in force with the IAEA; 12 other States have signed SQPs. See Story Resources for the table.
- 42 States with SQPs also have signed additional protocols with the IAEA. Additional protocols provide for expanded access to information and locations beyond that allowed under comprehensive safeguards agreements. For more information on the safeguards system, see the IAEA web site /Publications/Factsheets/English/sg_overview.html.