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IAEA Board of Governors Approves Strengthened Measures to Verify Nuclear Weapons Pact


The Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has approved new strengthened measures for use by its inspectors who verify States' compliance with their commitments not to produce nuclear weapons. More than 180 countries have already made such commitments under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and similar treaties. The new measures are detailed in an agreed Protocol through which countries would accept stronger, more intrusive verification on their territory.

Commenting on the Board's action, after a special meeting held in Vienna May 15, its Chairman, Ambassador Peter Walker of Canada, said: "This is a major achievement, crowning five years of effort by IAEA Member States and the Secretariat."

Non-proliferation treaties require that States declare all of their nuclear activities to the IAEA. The key objective of the new measures is to enhance the IAEA's capability to detect possible clandestine nuclear activities in non-nuclear weapon States (NNWS) and thus to increase confidence that these States are abiding by their obligations. However, while the Protocol is part of a plan for strengthened and more efficient safeguards in NNWS, it also contains measures that could improve safeguards in other States, including nuclear-weapon States.

These new measures provide enhanced access for inspectors -- access to more information about States' nuclear programmes, current and planned, and access to more locations on their territory. Inspectors will have access not only to nuclear sites but also to other locations that could contribute to a nuclear programme, such as research or manufacturing facilities.

The new measures include the use of state-of-the-art technologies to trace nuclear activity through samples taken from the environment and to remotely operate surveillance and monitoring systems at key locations in the inspected state. States accepting the Protocol will also be required to simplify the designation of inspectors and visa requirements for them, thus facilitating inspections at sites on short notice.

Many of the new measures have undergone extensive field trials in cooperating Member States and build on reinforcing steps already implemented under the IAEA's existing legal authority.

The IAEA also anticipates that the implementation of these measures will lead to more cost-effective use of its safeguards resources.

Welcoming the Board's action, IAEA Director General Hans Blix said: "With this decision, an important new chapter in the history of safeguards will begin: the Secretariat stands ready to move ahead with implementation as soon as individual States subscribe."

Last update: 16 Feb 2018


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