In the past year, the IAEA and Member States have stepped up efforts to encourage more States to support the Agency's strengthened safeguards system by concluding additional protocols. Since the increased outreach efforts began, another fifteen countries have informed the Agency of their Governments´ decision to conclude safeguards agreements and/or additional protocols. These include Chile, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Kiribati, Kuwait, Mali, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, South Africa, Tajikistan and Tunisia.
The aim of IAEA safeguards is to provide independent assurance to the international community that a State is complying with its obligation to use nuclear technology only for peaceful purposes. The Model Additional Protocol – which was agreed in 1997 – expands the Agency´s capability to detect any undeclared nuclear material and activities.
Among other measures, the Agency organized a number of regional seminars to promote the safeguards system and highlight its role in nuclear non-proliferation and in verifying the peaceful uses of nuclear technology. Most recently, the Agency sponsored a regional seminar in Johannesburg, South Africa, with financial support by the Government of Japan. The event drew more than 80 Government representatives from 35 African States. The seminar encouraged African countries to bring into force Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols.
"If the Agency is to be able to perform its responsibilities it must be given the corresponding authority. We believe all African States should embrace the safeguards agreements and additional protocols," South African Minister, Ms Susan Shabango, said in her opening remarks. (See the full speech).
The additional protocol to South Africa´s safeguards agreement will enter into force upon signature during the Agency´s upcoming General Conference in September, making South Africa the first African State with an additional protocol in force.
IAEA Director General, Dr Mohamed ElBaradei, told a Board of Governors meeting in March this year that strengthened safeguards was a crucial component of the nuclear non-proliferation regime. "Only with safeguards agreements and additional protocols in force can the Agency provide assurance not only about declared but also about possible undeclared activities".
Other recent IAEA seminars to promote the strengthened safeguards system were held in Almaty, Kiev, Minsk, Lima and Tallinn. The next one is expected to take place in Romania, with participating countries from Southeastern Europe.