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IAEA Completes 3-Year Project to Modernize Safeguards IT System

Vienna, Austria

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has completed a three-year project to revamp its Safeguards information technology system to be more effective in its work to ensure the peaceful uses of nuclear technology.

IAEA inspectors contribute to international peace and security by applying Safeguards—a set of technical measures—to help prevent the non-peaceful use of nuclear material and technology. However, the demand on the IAEA’s Department of Safeguards continues to increase as more States seek to utilize the benefits of nuclear science and technology.

The €41 million Modernization of Safeguards Information Technology project (MOSAIC), whose completion was marked at a presentation to IAEA Member States in Vienna yesterday, was launched in 2015. Employing 150 in-house professionals, the project developed more than 20 unique software applications to make Safeguards more effective, efficient and secure.

“The IAEA budget is not keeping pace with that growing demand, so it is essential that we make optimal use of advanced technology,” IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said at the presentation. “We are making more use of satellite imagery, enhanced data collection and remote monitoring techniques. We also continue to strengthen information collection and analysis.”

Director General Amano added: “MOSAIC will ensure that the Safeguards IT system supports all implementation processes well into the future, allowing better planning, conducting, reporting, and quality assessment of Safeguards activities.”

The upgrades come as demand for IAEA Safeguards work continues to climb worldwide. Between 2010 and 2017, the amount of nuclear material under IAEA Safeguards increased by over 20 per cent. In 2017, Safeguards staff operated in 182 States, compared with 176 States in 2010, and conducted more than 2000 inspections.  

MOSAIC has provided a suite of modern software applications, streamlining and integrating the processes of planning, performing activities, and reporting. 

These applications also facilitate the collection and analysis of Safeguards-relevant information. For example, in the past the IAEA collected tens of thousands of pieces of open source information per year. Thanks to MOSAIC software, that figure is now 140 million.

States with Safeguards agreements are required to declare their nuclear facilities and material to the IAEA. Processing such declarations and making the information available to IAEA experts used to be very time consuming. Now, these can be analysed immediately upon receipt.

MOSAIC has also enabled the IAEA to digitize the hundreds of thousands of documents on its verification work—records the Agency must keep on file. “Before MOSAIC, we used to have to go to the filing room, but with MOSAIC it’s like a one-stop service,” said Lai San Chew, an IAEA Safeguards Inspector. “You just click and you can get the information on the computer. It saves a lot of time.”

Work carried out as part of MOSAIC has also strengthened Safeguards information security – which is increasingly important to meet the growing number and complexity of cyber threats. MOSAIC ensures all confidential Safeguards information is well protected within an autonomous IT environment.

“The volume and variety of formats in information technologies have increased, as have the challenges of cybersecurity. There was definitely a need to modernize our IT and that is exactly what MOSAIC has done,” said John Coyne, Director of the Office of Information and Communication Systems, Department of Safeguards. “We are now fully ready to meet the challenges of 21st century Safeguards.”

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