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New Swiss Member State Support Programme to support IAEA safeguards


Ambassador Benno Laggner of the Permanent Mission of Switzerland (left), joined Massimo Aparo, Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Safeguards, in Vienna for the virtual signing of support agreements officially called practical arrangements with counterparts from the Swiss Federal Office of Energy in Bern.  (Photo: B. Ableitinger/IAEA)

In November, a new Member State Support Programme (MSSP) was established between the Swiss Confederation and the IAEA. The new MSSP means that Switzerland and the Agency will work more closely together to address nuclear safeguards challenges in the coming years.

IAEA safeguards are technical measures embedded in Safeguards Agreements between the IAEA and a State, which are implemented by the IAEA in order to provide the international community with assurances that nuclear material remains in peaceful use. Technical support from IAEA Member States helps the Agency strengthen global nuclear verification.

“For us, Member State Support Programmes provide a very important network”, said Massimo Aparo, Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Safeguards. “For more than 40 years, MSSPs have supported the IAEA’s nuclear verification mission through financial contributions, training, technology transfer, and expert collaboration in many different forms. By signing the MSSP Practical Arrangements, Switzerland will join a group of 20 other IAEA Member States and the European Commission in demonstrating a special interest in the future success of our mission."

MSSPs have been assisting the application of safeguards since the late 1970s. Their contributions have provided many of the tools and techniques presently used by IAEA inspectors around the world for nuclear verification, and support the IAEA's in-house capabilities. For example, the Network of Analytical Laboratories (NWAL), comprising 24 external laboratories in IAEA Member States and the European Commission, analyse nuclear material and environmental samples on behalf of the Department, supplementing the work performed at the IAEA’s own laboratories in Seibersdorf.

As the first new support programme since 2013, Switzerland’s MSSP will be instrumental in helping the Department advance its strategic plans and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of safeguards going forward.

Benoît Revaz, Director of the of the Swiss Federal Office of Energy, signed the Practical Arrangement marking Switzerland's new IAEA Member State Support Programme.

“Joining the MSSP is intended to strengthen the effectiveness and efficiency of the Agency's nuclear verification system”, said Benoît Revaz, Director of the Swiss Federal Office of Energy at the signing of the Practical Arrangements. “Our contributions in that framework should be sustainable, constructive, and pragmatic; should transfer Swiss expertise and experience; support the development of new equipment, software, and technology; and provide safeguards projects with dedicated funds.”

MSSPs ensure that the IAEA stays up to date with the latest trends in nuclear safeguards, provide access to nuclear facilities and other locations for training IAEA staff, and help with the testing of equipment, thereby supporting the effectiveness of safeguards practices.

“The Agency is fortunate to have another partner that offers so much potential and scope to provide the technology, expertise and resources to support our research, development and implementation needs,” said Chris Dierickx, Technical Programme Coordination Officer at the IAEA Department of Safeguards. “I look forward to working with Switzerland and learning more about the specific support that will be provided to the Department.”

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