• English
  • العربية
  • 中文
  • Français
  • Русский
  • Español

You are here

IAEA Launches New Reference Publication for Nuclear Safeguards


IAEA Safeguard inspectors in training at a storage facility for spent nuclear fuel in Sweden (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

How do IAEA safeguards help curb the spread of nuclear weapons? What are the different activities that IAEA inspectors conduct at nuclear facilities? What are undeclared nuclear materials and activities?

Answers to these questions and more can be found in the new edition of the IAEA’s Safeguards Glossary, a reference book released this week that explains the specific terminology related to safeguards in an accessible way. The Glossary ensures safeguards practitioners are ‘on the same page’, use the same definitions, and can therefore work together more efficiently.

Safeguards are a set of technical measures to verify that countries use nuclear material only for peaceful purposes. However, the myriad of verification activities performed by IAEA experts is not always easy to understand.

“Our new Safeguards Glossary is our authoritative reference for the terms that we use in implementing safeguards,” said Massimo Aparo, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Safeguards. Mr Aparo introduced the new edition of the glossary at the opening of the IAEA’s Symposium on International Safeguards this week at the Agency’s headquarters in Vienna. “The book serves as a reference and guide for all States, organisations and individuals involved or interested in IAEA safeguards.”

The IAEA published the first Safeguards Glossary in 1980 to expound the specialised terminology, and to help establish a common set of terms across all safeguards stakeholders. The new edition, updated and revised for the first time since 2001, contains a collection of terms, carefully defined by multidisciplinary experts, that are relevant to IAEA verification processes. It includes definitions, detailed explanations and examples, and encompasses extensive areas of safeguards work. The list of terms is translated into Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Russian and Spanish.

Safeguards make a vital contribution to international peace and security. Through the activities defined in the glossary, IAEA inspectors verify that countries are complying with their international nuclear non-proliferation obligations. Such activities include on-site visits, applying containment and surveillance, satellite imagery analysis, and nuclear material and environmental sampling.

 “Our new edition is thoroughly updated and comprehensively revised, and many new terms are now included,” said Jo Dee Martinez, Strategy Execution Specialist in the IAEA’s Department of Safeguards and the IAEA officer responsible for the publication. “We hope that the new publication will contribute to improving and strengthening the IAEA safeguards system by providing a consistent understanding of key terms that we use in performing nuclear safeguards.”

Over the past two decades, the implementation of IAEA safeguards has evolved in line with technology, becoming increasingly sophisticated, advanced and better equipped. An increasing number of countries — now totalling 187 — have safeguards agreements in force. Likewise, the amount of nuclear material and the number of nuclear facilities around the world are steadily growing.

The new edition of the Safeguards Glossary reflects all these changes and introduces terms that have come into use over the last 20 years. The terms are grouped into chapters — each focused on a specific topic — from concluding safeguards agreements and measuring nuclear materials, to carrying out in-field inspections and drawing safeguards conclusions.

The IAEA offers substantial support to countries to promote effective cooperation and facilitate the efficient application of safeguards. It provides written materials — such as the new glossary — as well as guidance documents, training courses and other resources.

Stay in touch