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NNSA Contributions to the IAEA

September 14, 2010

The United States contributes roughly 25 percent of the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) regular budget annually through the U.S. Department of State. For 2009, the U.S. contribution to the IAEA regular budget was approximately $103 million of a total budget of about $412 million. This covers the core functions of the Agency, including international safeguards inspections, promoting nuclear safety and security, and promoting the benefits of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The U.S Government also pledged $61 million in voluntary contributions to the IAEA in 2009 for developing and deploying equipment, training, from U.S. national laboratories assistance with analyzing environmental samples to verify the declarations of member states, and the U.S. contribution to the Technical Cooperation Fund.

In 2009, the United States, through the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) provided a one-time infusion of nearly $50 million to the IAEA for the establishment of an international nuclear fuel bank under IAEA auspices.

In addition to direct budgetary support from the State Department, the NNSA provides assistance in the form of financial and in-kind contributions to the IAEA and its Member States in support of the IAEA mandate. In Fiscal Year 2009, that support totaled approximately $74.7 million. NNSA’s support of the IAEA mission also includes two full-time nonproliferation experts detailed to the United States Mission to International Organizations in Vienna (UNVIE) staff.

The following is a summary of additional NNSA activities that support IAEA programs and objectives to strengthen international safeguards, prevent nuclear proliferation and combat nuclear terrorism.

Strengthening IAEA Safeguards

Through its Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Program, NNSA works to strengthen the IAEA safeguards system by:  

  • Developing and demonstrating advanced safeguards concepts and approaches for new fuel cycle facilities, for consideration by the IAEA and Member States.
  • Developing advanced safeguards technologies to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of safeguards implementation at both the facility and State levels.
  • Providing advanced training on non-destructive assay methods at IAEA request.
  • Providing subject matter experts who instruct in the IAEA Introductory Course on Agency Safeguards training courses.
  • Recruiting and training young professionals for careers in fields related to international safeguards.
  • Providing technical support to countries in meeting IAEA safeguards obligations.


  • These efforts support the international nuclear nonproliferation regime by:  
  • Strengthening the international verification and the nonproliferation regime.
  • Enabling the IAEA to make more effective and efficient use of limited resources.
  • Giving the IAEA new tools to verify declared activities and detect undeclared activities.
  • Identifying advanced safeguards approaches for U.S. facilities.
  • Assisting in rebuilding the safeguards human capital base.
  • Strengthening the implementation of safeguards in IAEA member states.
  • Ensuring a standard level of competency for nuclear inspectors and national authorities with these responsibilities.

Strengthening Nuclear & Radiological Security

NNSA works to prevent terrorists and proliferators from acquiring nuclear and radiological material by enhancing security at sites storing this material. These efforts include:  

  • Providing, jointly with the IAEA, international, regional and national training to officials with nuclear security responsibilities and assessment missions at nuclear and radiological facilities.
  • Helping develop international guidelines, standards, and recommendations on physical protection, control and accounting of nuclear materials and nuclear facilities.
  • Supporting the development of a joint working group on material control and accounting (MC&A), and an informal exchange on sustainability best practices.
  • Providing a subject matter expert on insider threat mitigation who can provide technical and programmatic support to the establishment and development of the MC&A Working Group and activities related to insider threat mitigation.
  • Providing financial and in-kind support (technical experts, assessment missions, guidance document development, and equipment) for global threat reduction activities, including securing nuclear and radiological materials through upgrading physical protection at civilian facilities, returning highly enriched uranium research reactor fuel to the country of origin, converting research reactors and isotope production facilities to use low enriched uranium fuel and targets, and repatriating excess and/or unwanted high activity radiological sources.
  • Continuing to lead efforts to support the international revision of the IAEA guidance document on “The Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials and Nuclear Facilities,” INFCIRC/225, to ensure that it is consistent with and supports the amended Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and provide implementing guidance for UNSCR 1540.
  • Assisting the IAEA in the development and implementation of equipment and technology to secure and recover vulnerable, high-risk nuclear and other radioactive materials.
  • Supporting IAEA efforts to sustain physical protection enhancements and foster human resource development and security culture at nuclear and radiological facilities around the world.


Collectively, these efforts:  

  • Support the IAEA’s nuclear security efforts worldwide.
  • Further U.S. objective of strengthening nuclear security and preventing nuclear terrorism globally.
  • Help nations meet international commitments to minimize the use of HEU in civilian applications.
  • Help the IAEA carry out its nuclear and radiological security mission.
  • Reduce duplication of activities through better communication with other member states.
  • Help avoid gaps in upgrading security of nuclear and radiological materials.
  • Help better leverage international resources.
  • Reduce the risk that nuclear and radiological materials will be used for malicious purposes against U.S. interests.

International Border Security

In his April 2009 Prague speech, President Obama discussed the need to strengthen efforts to prevent the smuggling of nuclear materials. NNSA works with the IAEA to:   

  • Coordinate border security efforts through the Border Monitoring Working Group (BMWG), a small informal group that seeks to maximize resources, avoid duplicate installation and training activities, and promote long-term, sustained enhancements in border security.
  • Support international border monitoring efforts including coordinating equipment deployment, training and response plan development. Includes the collaborative design, development and delivery of joint training curricula.
  • Provide state of the art radiation detection systems for IAEA’s Vienna International Center.
  • Provide subject matter experts to IAEA document consultancies.
  • Support nuclear-related equipment recognition training to Member States should they seek it from the Agency alongside nuclear material detection assistance.


These efforts are critical to: 

  • Supporting IAEA goals, including implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1540.
  • Helping counter illicit trafficking of nuclear and radiological materials and related equipment.
  • Improving outreach and coordination of various international border security efforts.

Strengthening International Nuclear Emergency Preparedness and Response Capabilities

NNSA is committed to working with our international partners to promote top-notch nuclear emergency response and preparedness capabilities. NNSA works with the IAEA to:  

  • Provide specialized medical, monitoring and responder training to the IAEA and its member states.
  • Provide emergency response and communications equipment to the IAEA's Incident and Emergency Center.
  • Engage in work to re-engineer and strengthen the international emergency management system to assure that the system can respond to any nuclear accident or radiological emergency, including a terrorist event.


  • Increases international readiness to respond to potential nuclear emergencies.