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International Safeguards Symposium Concludes

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During the closing session of the Symposium on International Safeguards, a panel discusses Mechanisms for Future Innovation in Safeguards. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

Building future capabilities for the verification of the peaceful use of nuclear material and technology was the focus of the 13th Symposium on International Safeguards. Held from 5 to 8 November 2018 at the IAEA’s headquarters in Vienna, the Symposium drew around 700 participants from some 90 Member States, the nuclear industry and experts from non-nuclear sectors.

“Effective safeguards provide assurances to the entire world that nuclear material remains in peaceful use and is not diverted to make weapons. At the Symposium we focussed on seeking innovation, strengthening partnerships and improving our work in support of our mission,” said Massimo Aparo, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Safeguards.

Topics of discussion included innovation, engaging youth and promoting greater gender diversity in nuclear safeguards.

Leveraging technological advances

Participants discussed potential solutions for addressing emerging safeguards challenges, leveraging technological advances for safeguards applications, preparing safeguards for new and decommissioned nuclear facilities and looking to the future of safeguards implementation.

Interactive sessions featured participants from around the world presenting various new technologies that have the potential to support safeguards activities. Participants also showcased innovative ideas on how to help the IAEA make use of technological developments in non-traditional safeguards sectors.

At the Closing Plenary of the Symposium, a final panel on ‘Mechanisms for Future Innovation in Safeguards’, brought together leading thinkers in non-safeguards sectors to discuss how innovation is cultivated in their industries and how this may apply to safeguards.

“Innovation has never been occurring at this speed. I think back 25 years ago; change in any industry would take 15 years. But now, governments and companies understand why innovation is something they need to focus on: it originates from places that you do not expect,” said Abdulaziz Aljaziri, Deputy Chief Executive Officer at the Dubai Future Foundation, who was one of the panellists.

Attendees explored ways to streamline and enhance the implementation of safeguards in both the field and at IAEA headquarters. Engaging communities of practice and strengthening regional networks have great potential to benefit safeguards implementation, said Carrie Mathews, Scientific Secretary of the Symposium. Improving cooperation and coordination between the IAEA and external partners was highlighted as important to address current nuclear verification challenges. Participants shared their experiences and discussed capacity-building efforts in this area.

“The Symposium brought together the world’s foremost experts in the field of nuclear verification as well as many experts from other fields with promising technology and techniques of relevance to safeguards,” Aparo said. “This created a melting pot of ideas and innovative thinking for the future, which made the Symposium a success.”

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