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Safeguards Symposium 2022 Closes with a View to the Future

Massimo Aparo, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Safeguards, gave an address at the Symposium on International Safeguards, which was held at the IAEA's headquarters in Vienna, Austria, this week. (Photo: T. Nicula-Golovei/IAEA)

The IAEA’s 14th Symposium on International Safeguards drew to a close today with participants leaving Vienna with new ideas to support safeguards implementation around the world. Over the course of the week-long event, participants presented novel approaches and innovations in subjects such as advancements for in-field verification, challenges presented by emerging technologies, and improving diversity and inclusion in international safeguards.

“'Strengthen’ is a key word that has emerged during this Symposium: we have strengthened the safeguards system in the past, and we need to keep strengthening it to keep up with the challenges of the future,” said Massimo Aparo, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Safeguards. “This week, we have celebrated the successes of 50 years of comprehensive safeguards agreements and 25 years of additional protocols. Now, let’s further engage States and the nuclear industry, adapt to new technologies and methods, and build in flexibility, agility, and resilience for an even more effective and efficient safeguards system of the future.”

IAEA safeguards verify that States are honouring their international legal obligations to use nuclear material and technology only for peaceful purposes. The Safeguards Symposium brings together global stakeholders in support of this mission. Particularly, this year’s Symposium brought together stakeholders from the research and development community, industry and civil society to provide ‘out of the box’ thinking to the nuclear verification challenges of both today and tomorrow.

Earlier in the week, a panel of experts discussed what the future holds and implications for safeguards in five key interconnected ‘landscapes’: disruptive technologies; energy and climate; nuclear technology; the non-proliferation regime, and international security.

The Symposium also looked towards the skills and capabilities that IAEA safeguards will need in the future, and how to capture these while promoting youth involvement, diversity and inclusion in the field of nuclear verification. In addition to a panel of future voices in safeguards, the Symposium held a student paper competition, won by papers from Marcus Borscz, Australia; Claudia Olaru, Romania; and Conny Egozi, United States of America.

“Over the course of this week, we have been shown that new and different skills and ideas are needed for safeguards in the future,” said Farnaz Lyla Alimehri, President of the United Nations-Nuclear Young Generation and Associate Training Officer at the IAEA Department of Safeguards. “For the future of safeguards, I want to see inclusion of these skills together with a diversity of different ideas, cultures and backgrounds, and I want to see equity of opportunity for all genders.”

Over 700 participants from 112 IAEA Member States were joined by nearly 500 virtual observers to discuss both the opportunities and challenges for safeguards as nuclear verification continues globally. Some 50 technical sessions were added to by oral presentations, panels, workshops, and more.

“It has been fantastic to welcome so many of our colleagues, voices from different disciplines, and the professionals of tomorrow to contribute to an enriching and varied Symposium,” said Jenni Rissanen, Scientific Secretary to the Symposium and Team Leader of the Strategic Planning Team in the IAEA Department of Safeguards. “As we continue our work in nuclear verification, I hope that we can take these lessons from decades of safeguards implementation, along with the ideas for the future, and apply these to ensure a safeguards system that is capable to tackle the challenges of tomorrow.”  

Relive the Symposium through the livestreaming of the plenary sessions, and the technical sessions through the IAEA Conferences and Meetings app, available on the App Store and Google Play

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