Please enable JavaScript in your browser to view this site in optimal condition.
When displaying with JavaScript disabled, some functions may not be available or correct information may not be obtained.

Hiroshima for Global Peace

(2) IAEA Safeguards Applied to the NPT NNWS

A) Conclusion of IAEA Safeguards Agreements
Under Article III-1 of the NPT, “[e]ach Nonnuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes to accept safeguards as set forth in an agreement to be negotiated and concluded with the International Atomic Energy Agency in accordance with the Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Agency’s safeguards system, for the exclusive purpose of verification of the fulfillment of its obligations assumed under this Treaty with a view to preventing diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.” The basic structure and content of the safeguards agreement are specified in the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement (CSA), known as INFCIRC/153, which each state negotiates with the IAEA and then signs and ratifies. As of September 2020, 10 NPT NNWS (including Palestine) have yet to conclude CSAs with the IAEA.40
In accordance with the strengthened safeguards system in place since 1997, an NPT NNWS or any other state may also conclude with the IAEA an Additional Protocol to its safeguards agreement, based on a model document known as INFCIRC/540. As of September 2020, 131 NPT NNWS have ratified Additional Protocols. Iran started provisional implementation of the Additional Protocol in January 2016, but has yet to ratify the protocol.

A state’s faithful implementation of the Additional Protocol, along with the CSA, allows the IAEA Secretariat to draw a so-called “broader conclusion” that “all nuclear material in the State has remained in peaceful activities.” This conclusion states that the Agency finds no indication of diversion of declared nuclear material from peaceful nuclear activities, misuse of the facilities for purposes other than those for which it was declared, or any undeclared nuclear material or activities in that country. (At the end of 2019, such a conclusion was drawn for 69 countries.) Subsequently, the IAEA implements so-called “integrated safeguards,” a term defined as the “optimized combination of all safeguards measures available to the Agency under [CSAs] and [Additional Protocols], to maximize effectiveness and efficiency within available resources.” As of the end of 2019, 67 NNWS have applied integrated safeguards.41
The current status of the signature and ratification of the CSAs and the Additional Protocols and the implementation of integrated safeguards by the NPT NNWS studied in this project is presented in the Table 2-1. In addition to the IAEA safeguards, EU countries accept safeguards conducted by EURATOM, and Argentina and Brazil conduct mutual inspections under the bilateral Brazilian-Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials (ABACC). Brazil aims to become the first non-nuclear-weapon state to possess a nuclear submarine, but the details of how the IAEA would conduct safeguards for Brazil’s nuclear fuel for submarines remain unclear despite ongoing negotiations.42
In the resolution “Strengthening the Effectiveness and Improving the Efficiency of Agency Safeguards” adopted in September 2020, the IAEA General Conference called on all States with unmodified Small Quantity Protocols (SQPs) to either rescind or amend them.43 The old SQP allowed for the implementation of most safeguards measures to be in abeyance.
As of September 2020, amended SQPs for 63 countries entered into force.

Among states that have announced an intention to introduce nuclear energy, Saudi Arabia has yet to accept an amended SQP. Before importing nuclear fuel for its first research reactor, which is nearing completion, it will need to forgo the SQP and conclude subsidiary arrangements under its safeguards agreement with the IAEA to set up inspections and ensure all nuclear materials and activities are properly safeguarded. In addition, under the current SQP concluded by Saudi Arabia, the IAEA cannot conduct design information verification of designed and constructed nuclear reactors, which it does under the supplementary arrangements of the CSAs. The IAEA has continued to discuss the issue with Saudi Arabia but the year 2020 ended without progress on amending the country’s safeguards agreement.44

B) Compliance with IAEA Safeguards Agreements

According to the “Safeguards Statement for 2019” published in 2020, as of the end of 2019, of the 131 countries to which both CSAs and the Additional Protocols are applied (including Iran applying the Additional Protocol provisionally), the IAEA concluded that all nuclear materials remained in peaceful activities for 69 countries. For the remaining 62 countries, evaluations regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities for each of these states remained ongoing, and the IAEA concluded only that declared nuclear material remained in peaceful activities. For 44 countries with a CSA but with no Additional Protocol in force, the Agency concluded only that declared nuclear material remained in peaceful activities.45
The IAEA reported that while the global pandemic of COVID-19 imposed significant difficulties on conducting its safeguards activities, the Agency did not suspend its verification activities but continued to implement safeguards effectively even under such circumstances. According to the IAEA, verification activities in Canada and Japan, where the IAEA regional offices are located, were less difficult than other countries, and 71 inspections were conducted by these regional offices from March to May 2020. In addition, during that period, the IAEA, for the first time, conducted inspections in four countries by the provision of aircraft charter services to transport in total 78 inspectors and technical staff, using extra budgetary support provided by France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States.46
North Korea
North Korea has refused to accept IAEA monitoring since 2002. In the “Application of Safeguards in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” in September 2020, the IAEA Director-General reported on the state of play of North Korea’s nuclearrelated facilities via analysis of public information and satellite images, while the Agency could not confirm details such as the operation status as well as the characteristics and purposes of North Korea’s activities because the IAEA could not access the nuclear facilities. For instance:47

➢ There have been no indications that the Yongbyon Experimental Nuclear Power Plant has been operating since December 2018. However, the IAEA has not been able to determine whether the fuel rods have been removed from the core and stored in the spent fuel pond.
➢ It is almost certain that no reprocessing activity took place, and that the plutonium produced in the 5MW(e) reactor during the most recent operational cycle has not been separated.
➢ Observations were consistent with the production of enriched uranium at the reported centrifuge enrichment facility.
➢ There have been indications of ongoing mining, milling and concentration activities at locations previously declared as the Pyongsan uranium mine and the Pyongsan uranium concentration plant.
➢ Regular vehicular movements indicated ongoing activities at the Kangson complex, which shares some characteristics with the centrifuge enrichment facility at Yongbyon.

According to the IAEA Safeguards Statement for 2019, “In 2019, the Secretariat intensified efforts to enhance the Agency’s readiness to play its essential role in verifying the DPRK’s nuclear programme. … Once a political agreement has been reached among the countries concerned, the Agency is ready to return to the DPRK in a timely manner, if requested to do so by the DPRK and subject to approval by the Board of Governors.”48

Although Iran has suspended the implementation of some obligations
under the JCPOA, it continued to accept the IAEA’s safeguards activities on its soil. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, the IAEA used chartered jet
flights to conduct safeguards visits in Iran. In order to cover extra costs, France, Germany and the United Kingdom provided voluntary extrabudgetary contributions amounting to a total of 750,000 Euros.49
At the 2020 IAEA General Conference, Director-General Rafael Grossi stated, “The Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement. Evaluations regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities for Iran continue.”50 Iran also stated that it “received 22 percent of the total inspections of the IAEA at the global level, [and that] 432 inspections and 33 complementary accesses have also been conducted in Iran in 2019.”51
On the other hand, IAEA Director- General Grossi at the Board of Governors in March 2020 reported, “The Agency has identified a number of questions related to possible undeclared nuclear material and nuclear related activities at three locations that have not been declared by Iran. The Agency sought access to two of the locations. Iran has not provided access to these locations.”52 The IAEA Board of Governors adopted a resolution in June (with 26 in favor, two against (China and Russia) and seven abstentions), in which it “echo[ed] the serious concern expressed by the Director-General that Iran has not provided access to the Agency under the Additional Protocol to two locations and that discussions
engaged in for almost a year to clarify Agency questions related to possible undeclared nuclear material and nuclear related activities in Iran have not led to progress,” and “call[ed] on Iran to fully cooperate with the Agency and satisfy the Agency’s requests without any further delay, including by providing prompt access to the locations specified by the Agency.”53
Iran insisted that its decision to deny IAEA inspectors access to the two sites was because the request was based on “fabricated” Israeli intelligence, and it did “not want to set a bad precedence by giving legitimacy to such alleged information.”54 However, as a result of IAEA Director-General Grossi’s visit to Iran and consultations with Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi in August 2020, Iran and the IAEA agreed that Iran “voluntarily [provided] the IAEA with access to the two locations specified by the IAEA, in good faith,” and the IAEA did “not have … further requests for access to locations other than those declared by Iran under its CSA and [Additional Protocol].”55
The IAEA reported on September 4 that, in accordance with their agreement, Iran provided IAEA inspectors access to one of the locations mentioned above to take environmental samples; the Agency took environmental samples as planned; and these samples would be analyzed by laboratories that are part of the IAEA’s Network of Analytical Laboratories.56 The IAEA also announced at the end of September that it inspected the second site and took environmental samples.57 

As for Syria, the IAEA assessed that the facility at Dair Alzour, which was destroyed by an Israeli air raid in September 2007, was very likely a clandestinely constructed, undeclared nuclear reactor. While the IAEA repeatedly called on Syria to cooperate fully with the Agency so as to resolve the outstanding issues, Syria has not responded to that request.58
In the meantime, the IAEA reported that inspections were carried out at the Miniature Neutron Source Reactor facility near Damascus and a location outside facilities in Damascus in 2019; and that it found no indication of diversion of declared nuclear material from peaceful activities.59



40 IAEA, “Status List: Conclusion of Safeguards Agreements, Additional Protocols and Small Quantities Protocols,” September 18. 2020, status.pdf. All of these 10 countries possess a small amount of nuclear material or do not conduct activities for peaceful use of nuclear energy.

41 IAEA, Annual Report, pp. 87-88. The broader conclusion was drawn for Jordan and Turkey, but the integrated safeguards were not applied.
42 Leonardo Bandarra, “Brazilian Nuclear Policy under Bolsonaro: No Nuclear Weapons, But a Nuclear Submarine,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, April 12, 2019, policy-under-bolsonaro/.
43 GC(63)/RES/13, September 2020.
44 “IAEA in Wide-Ranging Talks with Saudi Arabia on Tougher Nuclear Checks,” Reuters, September 14, 2020, ranging-talks-with-saudi-arabia- on-tougher-nuclear-checks. At the 2020 UNGA First Committee, Iran blamed the Saudi Arabia’s behaviors regarding the IAEA safeguards. “Statement by Iran,” First Committee, UNGA, October 14, 2020.

45 IAEA “Safeguards Statement for 2019,” 2020.
46 GOV/INF/2020/7, June 4, 2020,
47 GOV/2020/42-GC(64)18, September 3, 2020.

48 IAEA “Safeguards Statement for 2019,” 2020.
49 U.K. Government, “E3 Statement on verification and monitoring in Iran (JCPoA) at the IAEA Board of Governors,” June 16, 2020, and-monitoring- in-iran-jcpoa-at-the-iaea-board-of-governors-june-2020.
50 Rafael Mariano Grossi, IAEA Director General, “Statement to Sixty Fourth Regular Session of IAEA General Conference,” September 21, 2020, fourth regular-session-of-iaea-general-conference.
51 “Statement by Iran,” IAEA General Conference, September 21, 2020.

52 “IAEA Director General’s Introductory Statement to the Board of Governors,” March 9, 2020, introductory-statement-to-the-board- of-governors-9-march-2020. Regarding one location which the IAEA did not request access, the Agency explained that “this location underwent extensive sanitization and levelling in 2003 and 2004. Consequently, the Agency has assessed that there would be no verification value in conducting a complementary access at this location.” GOV/2020/30, June 5, 2020.
53 GOV/2020/34, June 19, 2020.
54 “Iran Says IAEA Case for Inspecting Sites Based on Fake Israeli Intel,” Reuters, March 5, 2020, sites/iran-says-iaea-case-for-inspecting-sites-based-on-fake- israeli-intel-idUSKBN20S1M8.
55 “Joint Statement by the Director General of the IAEA and the Vice-President of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Head of the AEOI,” September 26, 2020, joint-statement-by-the-director-general-of-the-iaea-and-the-vice-president-of the-islamic-republic-of-iran-and- head-of-the-aeoi.

56 GOV/2020/47, September 4, 2020.
57 “UN Nuclear Watchdog Inspects Second Iran Site,” Aljazeera, September 30, 2020, https://www. inspects-second-iran-site.

58 IAEA “Safeguards Statement for 2019,” 2020.
59 Ibid.


< BackNext >