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Guiding Countries in Strengthening their State Systems of Accounting for and Control of Nuclear Material


“The existence of a strong partnership between the State and the IAEA is key to the successful implementation of safeguards,” said IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi, at a side event during the 66th IAEA General Conference.

Today, at an event on the margins of the 66th IAEA General Conference, participants celebrated the cooperation between States and the Agency in strengthening State systems of accounting for and control of nuclear material (SSACs) and State or regional authorities responsible for safeguards implementation (SRAs).

The IAEA offers comprehensive capacity building support to help States meet their international nuclear safeguards obligations. Nuclear safeguards verify that nuclear material remains in peaceful use. The event highlighted the assistance provided by the IAEA, with a special emphasis on the IAEA Comprehensive Capacity-Building Initiative for SSACs and SRAs (COMPASS) and the IAEA Safeguards and SSAC Advisory Service (ISSAS).

“The existence of a strong partnership between the State and the IAEA is key to the successful implementation of safeguards,” said Rafael Mariano Grossi, IAEA Director General. “Under the assistance that the IAEA offers to States, it is inspiring to see the many and diverse activities successfully delivered to address States’ SSAC-related needs.”

The performance of national safeguards authorities and SSACs has a significant impact on the effectiveness and efficiency of the implementation of IAEA safeguards. Under a comprehensive safeguards agreement, the State is required to establish an SSAC, which forms the basis for a State’s reporting to the IAEA on its nuclear material.


At the event, participants were given an overview of COMPASS, launched in 2020, which uses a tailored approach to provide multidisciplinary assistance designed to address a State’s specific needs to strengthen and sustain their SSACs and SRAs. Building on the IAEA’s existing safeguards support to States, COMPASS adds new forms of assistance and brings together these activities into a single, streamlined and multifaceted mechanism for increased effectiveness and coordination.

COMPASS assistance comes in the forms of outreach among stakeholders; procurement of equipment; expertise sharing; IT support; fellowships and scientific visits; training and coaching; and assistance in developing safeguards legal and regulatory frameworks. During the two-year pilot period, seven recipient States have worked with the IAEA, with the support of 14 States and the European Commission, in the implementation of COMPASS: Guatemala, Jordan, Malaysia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Türkiye and Uzbekistan.   

“In Türkiye, we have our first nuclear power plant project, which requires training in both nuclear material accountancy for the plant staff and control of nuclear material for the nuclear regulatory authority,” said Hatem Karakurt, Head of Group, Department of Radiation Practices, Nuclear Regulatory Authority, Republic of Türkiye. “IAEA experts who are responsible for the implementation of COMPASS have carried out flexible, devoted and guiding work in the planning and implementation of assistance to meet Türkiye-specific needs.”

Over the past year, the IAEA, in coordination with the seven pilot States and other partners, implemented a number of activities in accordance with the work plans developed. Tangible results in the legal, administrative and technical areas strengthened capacities of SSACs and SRAs for sustainable safeguards implementation. For example, six COMPASS pilot States received training on the legal basis of safeguards and support in reviewing safeguards laws and regulations. Furthermore, COMPASS pilot States received assistance in the development of procedures and guidelines to effectively account for and control nuclear material.

“Upon completion of the pilot phase at the end of 2022, the Agency will integrate COMPASS into the standard suite of safeguards assistance that the IAEA offers States,” said Massimo Aparo, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Safeguards. “In the future, the IAEA will also conduct an ISSAS mission for each State receiving COMPASS support.”


The IAEA Safeguards and SSAC Advisory Service (ISSAS) was established in 2004 and is a fundamental part of the IAEA’s efforts to assist States. Upon request, ISSAS missions support States in establishing and maintaining an SSAC by providing peer review of a State’s safeguards infrastructure and the performance of their SSAC. To date, 24 States have received ISSAS missions.

Participants at the event were demonstrated that, whereas COMPASS implements particular assistance activities, ISSAS provides peer review to understand needs and develops an agreed action plan to enhance an SSAC’s technical capabilities and effectiveness.

Both the technical capabilities and effectiveness of the SSAC, and the nature and scope of cooperation between the State and the IAEA, can impact IAEA verification efforts for a State. ISSAS enables in-depth discussions between representatives of the State, a team of IAEA staff and external experts. From these discussions, recommendations and suggestions are compiled in a confidential report to the State and provide the basis for setting national goals to enhance the performance of the SSAC.

In 2021, the ISSAS Guidelines – IAEA Service Series 13 – were updated to include criteria for States to conduct a self-assessment. This approach allows States to be more proactive in assessing their SSAC in preparation for an ISSAS mission and to accurately understand their needs and develop an appropriate workplan. The first mission using this self-assessment approach took place in Bangladesh in 2022.  

“Maintaining an effective SSAC represents a key aspect in the non-proliferation efforts of every State,” said Ondřej Šťastný, Director of the Department of Non-Proliferation at the State Office for Nuclear Safety in the Czech Republic. “To support COMPASS, we provided four SSAC webinars, three technical visits to the Czech Republic and an expert visit to a COMPASS pilot State. We are willing to continue this cooperation with the IAEA as part of COMPASS.”

IAEA safeguards assistance and support for States is provided upon request. Find out more about COMPASS, ISASS or other assistance for States.

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