A new initiative launched at the IAEA’s 64th General Conference this week will help to further strengthen support to States in the accounting and control of nuclear material, while also facilitating the IAEA’s nuclear verification work. The initiative uses a tailored approach to build on the IAEA’s existing support to States related to safeguards – a series of technical measures to verify that nuclear material is only used for peaceful purposes.
“This important, new service of the IAEA will help to strengthen our contribution to international peace and security,” said IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi in a video message opening a side event to the General Conference to launch the initiative.
The establishment and upkeep of State Systems of Accounting for and Control of Nuclear Material (SSAC) set up by State and Regional Authorities (SRAs) form the basis of a State’s reporting to the IAEA on its nuclear material. The new initiative, the IAEA Comprehensive Capacity-Building Initiative for SSACs and SRAs (COMPASS), supports this key part of a State’s safeguards responsibilities.
An SSAC is a set of arrangements to account for and control nuclear material in the State. It can, for example, establish the measurement system for determining the quantities of nuclear material received, produced, shipped, lost or removed from an inventory. This, in turn, provides the basis for applying IAEA safeguards.
“The performance of SRAs and SSACs has a direct impact upon the effectiveness and efficiency of safeguards […]. They are the interface between the State and the IAEA on all safeguards implementation matters,” Mr Grossi said. “Building on existing capacity development programmes, this initiative will identify areas for cooperation and offer additional, tailored assistance.”
During the launch event, a panel of safeguards experts discussed IAEA safeguards and the role of COMPASS in supporting their implementation.
“Robust cooperation between the IAEA and the State is essential to perform safeguards effectively and efficiently, and COMPASS will strengthen this,” said Massimo Aparo, Deputy Director General and Head of the IAEA Department of Safeguards.
The panelists looked at how these customized assistance packages are developed by the IAEA and the State together, following a needs assessment. They also discussed the types of assistance covered by the package, which can range from outreach, training and human resources to technical support and legal and regulatory assistance.
“Over the years, the IAEA has offered States support in safeguards implementation,” said Susan Pickett, Head of the Safeguards Training Section at the IAEA. “What COMPASS does is building on this history of assistance to States and optimizes the provision of various forms of assistance in one package.”
As part of the annual Safeguards Implementation Report, the IAEA details areas of difficulty in safeguards implementation. One of these difficulties includes the significant impact on safeguards implementation of the performance and effectiveness of SRAs and SSACs. By identifying areas of cooperation and engagement between the State and the IAEA, COMPASS will address the individual needs of States to enhance the capacity of their SSAC.
COMPASS will begin with a pilot phase involving a few countries including Guatemala, Malaysia, Rwanda, Turkey and Uzbekistan. Upon successful completion of this pilot phase, the initiative will be made widely available to other States.