18 June 1998
PR 98/8

Implementation of IAEA Safeguards in 1997

The Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), meeting in Vienna, from 8-12 June 1998, reviewed the implementation of IAEA safeguards last year.

In 1997, the IAEA Secretariat did not find any indication of the diversion of nuclear material, or of the misuse of any facility, equipment or non-nuclear material, which had been declared and placed under safeguards. All the information available to the Agency supports the conclusion that the nuclear material and other items which had been declared and placed under Agency safeguards remained in peaceful nuclear activities or were otherwise adequately accounted for. However, the Agency is still unable to verify the initial declaration made by the Democratic People's Republic Korea (DPRK), and the DPRK continues to be in non-compliance with its NPT safeguards agreement.

The International Atomic Energy Agency is authorized under its Statute to establish and administer safeguards designed to verify that nuclear material and other nuclear related items are not used to further any military purpose and to apply safeguards, at the request of a State, to any of that State's activities in the field of atomic energy.

The Agency's safeguards system is one element of the international effort to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The system has evolved over more than 30 years, incorporating improvements based on experience, new concepts and techniques, and advances in technology, and provides assurance about the peaceful use of declared nuclear material.

The Agency carries out most of its inspections and other safeguards activities under agreements concluded pursuant to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which requires each non-nuclear-weapon State party to the Treaty to declare and submit to Agency safeguards all the nuclear material in all peaceful nuclear activities carried out within the territory of the State, under its jurisdiction or under its control anywhere. Comparable provisions are to be contained in safeguards agreements pursuant to the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Tlatelolco Treaty), the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty (Rarotonga Treaty), the Agreement between the Republic of Argentina and the Federative Republic of Brazil for the Exclusively Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy (Guadalajara Declaration), the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (Bangkok Treaty), and other comprehensive safeguards agreements.

In some States which are not party to any of these instruments, the Agency applies safeguards under agreements which specify nuclear material, and/or non-nuclear material (e.g. heavy water, zirconium tubes), facilities and equipment to be verified. The Agency also applies safeguards to nuclear material in the nuclear weapon States under what are called "voluntary offer agreements".

The Agency's safeguards system has been successful in providing assurance regarding declared nuclear activities, but the discovery of a clandestine nuclear weapons programme in Iraq in 1991 drew worldwide attention to the need to strengthen the system. In May 1997, the Board of Governors approved the text of a Model Protocol additional to safeguards agreements with States which is designed to enhance the Agency's ability to provide assurance on the completeness and correctness of States' declarations and its ability to provide credible assurance of the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities and to improve the efficiency of the safeguards system.

At the end of 1997, safeguards agreements were in force with 135 States (and Taiwan, China). Of these, 68 States (and Taiwan, China) had declared nuclear activities and were being inspected, the majority under comprehensive safeguards agreements. Safeguards were also being implemented in four States with safeguards agreements covering specified nuclear or non-nuclear material, facilities or equipment and at designated installations in the five nuclear weapon States.

There were 931 nuclear facilities and other locations which contained nuclear material and were subject to Agency safeguards at the end of 1997. Of these, 602 were inspected at least once in 1997. A total of 2499 inspections were carried out, requiring 10 240 person-days of inspection effort. Inspections focused primarily on activities and locations involving the production, processing or storage of nuclear material from which nuclear weapons could be readily manufactured.

The expenditure from the Safeguards Regular Budget for 1997 was US $82 391 000. In addition, extrabudgetary funds of US $19 412 000 were contributed by seven Member States. The provision by several Member States of extrabudgetary funds for equipment procurement helped to alleviate previous shortages of instruments and facilitated the replacement of some obsolete equipment. In the areas of research and development and implementation support, the Department of Safeguards benefited from the 15 technical support programmes of Member States and the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM).

Major Events

Strengthening of Safeguards: In May 1997, the Board approved the text of a Model Protocol additional to safeguards agreements, which marked the culmination of the Secretariat's development programme (Programme 93+2) for strengthening the effectiveness and improving the efficiency of the safeguards system. By the end of the year, an Additional Protocol had been approved for one State (Lithuania), signed by six States (Armenia, Australia, Georgia, Philippines, Poland and Uruguay), and had entered into force for Australia. One State (Armenia) is implementing the Protocol provisionally pending entry into force. The Department of Safeguards, under an Action Plan, made preparations to implement the Additional Protocol. One of the first actions completed was the development of guidelines for the submission of information, pursuant to Articles 2 and 3 of the Protocol, which would constitute a State's expanded declaration.

DPRK: The Agency has maintained a continuous inspector presence in the Nyongbyon area in the DPRK since May 1994. Since November 1994, the Agency has been monitoring a "freeze" on the DPRK's graphite moderated reactors and related facilities. A number of safeguards measures, such as monitoring waste at the Radiochemical Laboratory (reprocessing plant) and measurements to determine the plutonium content of the spent fuel at the 5MW(e) reactor, were not accepted by the DPRK. Canning of the spent fuel rods at the 5 MW(e) reactor will be completed in Spring 1998. There was still no progress in the discussions with the DPRK on the preservation of information that the Agency deems necessary for verification of the completeness and correctness of the DPRK's initial declaration.

Iraq: The Agency continued to investigate aspects of Iraq's clandestine nuclear weapons programme and also to implement its plan for the ongoing monitoring and verification of Iraq's fulfilment of its obligations in compliance with relevant Security Council resolutions and embarked upon a programme to enhance the technologies utilised in that plan. In October-November 1997, the Agency and the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) suspended their monitoring activities for a 23-day period as a result of an attempt by Iraq to impose conditions on the composition of the teams. In its October 1997 progress report to the Security Council, the Agency provided an overview of activities completed since May 1991 in connection with its on-site inspections of Iraq's nuclear weapon related assets and the actions taken by the Agency to destroy, remove and render harmless those assets. In the same report the Agency recorded that it had formed a technically coherent picture of Iraq's clandestine nuclear programme and stated that there were no indications of significant discrepancies between that picture and the information contained in Iraq's Full, Final and Complete Declaration of 7 September 1996, as supplemented by the written revisions provided by Iraq since that time.

Verification of Weapons Origin Material: Following the launching -- in September 1996 -- of the trilateral initiative relevant to Agency verification of weapons origin fissile material in the United States of America and the Russian Federation, representatives of the Agency and these two States continued to review the technical, legal and financial issues associated with such verification.