More States are moving to allow IAEA safeguards inspectors more authority in verifying their nuclear programmes.
The agreements - known as Additional Protocols - grant the IAEA complementary inspection authority to that provided in underlying safeguards agreements, typically concluded pursuant to provisions of the global Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). A main aim is to enable the IAEA inspectorate to provide assurance about both declared and possible undeclared nuclear material and activities. Under the Protocol, the IAEA is granted expanded rights of access to information and sites, as well as additional authority to use the most advanced technologies during the verification process.
Last week, the IAEA Board of Governors approved Additional Protocols for four more countries - Algeria, Benin, Mauritius, and Serbia & Montenegro - raising the total number of Board approvals to 94. This week, during the 48th IAEA General Conference, Morocco and Tanzania signed their Additional Protocols on 22 and 23 September, respectively.
Over the past year, the number of States with Additional Protocols in force has increased appreciably, from 36 to 60. Additional Protocols have entered into force for 15 European Union countries, as well as for Armenia, Chile, Cuba, El Salvador, Ghana, the Republic of Korea, Madagascar, Paraguay and Uruguay. Iran and Libya also decided to apply their Additional Protocols pending entry into force.
At the IAEA General Conference, Director General Mohamed ElBaradei welcomed the developments. He noted, however, that more than 130 countries do not have Additional Protocols in force yet, including 42 NPT States that have not concluded comprehensive safeguards agreements with the Agency.
He singled out IAEA efforts to inform States about the global security role of safeguards agreements and Additional Protocols, and to explain related legal and technical requirements. In the past year, regional outreach seminars were held in Burkina Faso and Namibia, and an interregional seminar was organized in Vienna for NPT States party to the NPT that had not yet concluded comprehensive safeguards agreements. National safeguards information seminars were held in Colombia and Mexico, while Belarus, Cuba, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Switzerland sent teams to Vienna for discussions.