The Republic of Georgia has ratified its comprehensive safeguards agreement with the IAEA, a step that further underscores its commitment to nuclear non-proliferation and the peaceful use of nuclear science and technology. The agreement is pursuant to provisions of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to which Georgia is party.
With Georgia's agreement in force, the Agency is implementing safeguards in all of the so-called Newly Independent States emerging from the former Soviet Union known to have nuclear facilities or significant amounts of nuclear material. Georgia also ratified what is termed an "additional protocol" to that agreement which allows IAEA safeguards inspectors greater rights of access in order to verify the absence of any undeclared nuclear material or activities. The additional protocol is the centerpiece of recent efforts to strengthen the Agency's safeguards system for verification of States' peaceful use undertakings in the nuclear field.
Recent months have seen other States take similar steps. Burkina Faso brought into force, and Mauritania signed, NPT safeguards agreements and additional protocols, as well as "small quantities protocols" which simplify safeguards implementation in their countries. The Democratic Republic of Congo, Jamaica and Mongolia - which already have NPT safeguards agreements with the Agency - also brought additional protocols into force, while Malta signed such a protocol. All told, 35 countries have in force IAEA safeguards agreements with additional protocols.
As part of efforts to see more States sign on, the Secretariat has developed a strategy to focus its outreach activities. It is running a series of regional seminars and national missions to help States better understand and prepare for the implementation of additional protocols and safeguards agreements. These efforts have seen a number of countries - particularly in Latin America and Africa - conclude the legal instruments of the Agency's strengthened safeguards system.
This year, two regional seminars were held, in co-operation with the Governments of Malaysia and Romania, with financial support from the US Government. The first in February in Poiana Brasov, Romania, brought together 15 States of Central and Eastern Europe. Last month, nine ASEAN States and Timor-Leste gathered in Kuala Lumpur. The next seminar is planned for 23-25 June in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
In welcoming recent progress, IAEA Director General, Dr Mohamed ElBaradei, cautioned that a great deal still remained to be done.
"There has been incremental progress but the number of safeguards agreements and additional protocols actually in force continues to be well below expectations. I reiterate my call on all States that have not done so to conclude these instruments and bring them into force," Dr. ElBaradei said.
The Agency is currently implementing 231 safeguards agreements in 147 States. Forty-seven States party to the NPT have yet to conclude comprehensive safeguards agreements with the IAEA in the context of the Treaty. Seventy-seven States with safeguards agreements in force have so far not signed additional protocols, and included among these are 21 States known to have significant nuclear activities. See the related links for the latest status.