Information collection and evaluation

The IAEA collects and processes safeguards-relevant information about a State from three sources: information provided by the State itself; safeguards activities conducted by the IAEA in the field and at Headquarters; and other relevant information. 

Information provided by the State can include reports and declarations, while information from IAEA safeguards activities would derive, for instance, from in-field verification or the evaluation of nuclear material accounting information. Other information could stem from open sources and third parties.

The IAEA conducts ongoing reviews of such information to assess internal consistency of State-declared information, and the consistency of State-declared information with that generated and collected by the IAEA. Any anomalies, questions or inconsistencies are identified and addressed in a timely manner through consultations with the State and further action taken, as necessary.

Information provided by a State regarding its nuclear material and activities represent the great majority of information used by the IAEA for safeguards implementation. For States with Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols in force, information is provided to the IAEA in the form of nuclear material accounting reports, advance notifications of transfers of nuclear material and facility design information, and other information about the State's nuclear and nuclear-related activities.

One of the questions that the evaluation of safeguards activities seeks to answer is whether a State's declarations about its nuclear programme and plans are consistent with other safeguards-relevant information available to the IAEA. Such information includes information from open sources (for instance, government documents, operator publications, scientific and technical literature) as well as third-party information. The latter, which constitutes a very small part of information available to the IAEA, is made available to the Agency by a State or an organization on a voluntary basis. This information, once validated, is thoroughly analyzed by the IAEA and corroborated with other safeguards-relevant information available to the Agency. During this process, the IAEA engages with States and, as necessary, takes follow-up actions to address the correctness and completeness of their declarations.

One example of a valuable open source of information is commercially available satellite imagery. Satellite imagery is used routinely to evaluate information provided by States on their nuclear activities and to plan inspections and visits to facilities to verify design information and conduct complementary access. 

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