Citing safeguards challenges, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report to the US Congress this week that recommends a series of steps to strengthen the IAEA's capabilities.
The report - entitled Nuclear Non-proliferation - identifies the steps IAEA has taken to strengthen safeguards, assesses the challenges in implementing strengthened safeguards, identifies US financial support for safeguards, and describes IAEA´s efforts to help secure nuclear material and facilities.
The "IAEA has taken steps to strengthen safeguards, including conducting more intrusive inspections, to seek assurances that countries are not developing clandestine weapons programs," the report said.
At the same time, it noted, the "IAEA faces challenges that limit its ability to implement strengthened safeguards."
The report makes a series of recommendations to the US Congress. They include working to eliminate or reduce agreements that limit the IAEA´s authority to implement strengthened safeguards; establish better measures to evaluate the effectiveness of safeguards and nuclear security activities, and rectify human capital practices that negatively impact IAEA´s ability to recruit and retain critical safeguards staff.
The report (GAO-06-93) on the IAEA was based on a study from October 2004 to August 2005. Dated October 7, it was released to the public 7 November 2005.
IAEA Director General has pointed to an "unprecedented array of challenges" to the nuclear non-proliferation and arms control regime, including Agency safeguards. "While our verification system has shown great resourcefulness and resiliency in dealing with many challenges," he said, "additional steps are needed to strengthen the system more."