Preventing the spread of nuclear weapons is a complex task. Seventy years after the destructive power of nuclear weapons was first demonstrated, a number of international political and legal mechanisms are in place to help to achieve nuclear non-proliferation objectives. They include political commitments of States, multilateral treaties, other legally binding agreements in which States’ non-proliferation commitments are embedded, and, critically, IAEA safeguards.
The objective of IAEA safeguards is to deter the spread of nuclear weapons by early detection of misuse of nuclear material or technology, thereby providing credible assurances that States are honoring their legal obligations.
The IAEA plays a crucial independent verification role, aimed at assuring the international community that nuclear material, facilities and other items subject to safeguards are used only for peaceful purposes.
It is the Department of Safeguards that carries out the duties and responsibilities of the IAEA as the world’s nuclear inspectorate, performing an indispensable role in global efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. The primary role of the Department of Safeguards is to administer and implement IAEA Safeguards.
The Department also contributes to nuclear arms control and disarmament, by responding to requests for verification and other technical assistance associated with related agreements and arrangements.