International safeguards are a central pillar of the nuclear nonproliferation regime. Administered by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), international safeguards serve to monitor nuclear activities under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and are the primary vehicle for verifying compliance with peaceful use and nuclear nonproliferation undertakings.
The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) undertook a broad review of international safeguards, which concluded that a comprehensive initiative to revitalize the international safeguards technology and human resource base by leveraging U.S. technical assets and partnerships was urgently needed to keep pace with demands and emerging safeguards challenges.
To address these challenges, NNSA launched the Next Generation Safeguards Initiative (NGSI) to develop the policies, concepts, technologies, expertise, and infrastructure necessary to sustain the international safeguards system as its mission evolves over the next 25 years. NGSI is designed to revitalize and strengthen the U.S. safeguards technical base, recognizing that without a robust program the United States will not be in a position to exercise leadership or provide the necessary support to the safeguards regime. The initiative will also bring together international partners to join forces in meeting key safeguards challenges.
NGSI has five main pillars:
- Policy and Outreach
The IAEA can accomplish much of its mission through the vigorous use of its existing inspection and investigation authorities. NGSI will support IAEA safeguards policy and outreach by promoting universal adoption of safeguards agreements, by supporting state-level safeguards evaluation and implementation, and by assessing options for enhanced information sharing.
- Concepts and Approaches
The deployment of new types of reactors and fuel cycle facilities, combined with the need to make the most effective and efficient use of limited safeguards resources, requires new concepts and approaches. NGSI will address this challenge by applying a system-level approach to safeguards and by promoting "Safeguards by Design" as an international standard.
- Technology Development
Implementation of safeguards at declared facilities can be made more efficient and effective by incorporating advances in automation, measurement, and information technology. Detection of undeclared activities requires a suite of multifunctional, field-portable safeguards tools and improved information analysis capabilities. NGSI will develop and implement a strategic plan for safeguards technology development to address these and other requirements.
- Human Resources
While safeguards demands are growing rapidly, many safeguards professionals are nearing retirement age. To alleviate the human capital shortage, NGSI will work to recruit, train and retain the next generation of international safeguards professionals and encourage U.S. experts to seek employment at the IAEA.
- Infrastructure Development
As developing countries become increasingly interested in civil nuclear energy, NGSI will join with the IAEA and international partners to develop infrastructure, institutional capacities, and human resources necessary to apply effective safeguards to nuclear energy programs worldwide.
In the last year, NNSA undertook several activities supporting NGSI, including:
- Hosting 2 regional infrastructure workshops for countries interested in pursuing nuclear power
- Training 300 foreign experts in safeguards
- Developing 4 new safeguards technologies and analytical methodologies
- Recruiting over 50 students through safeguards internships
- Partnering with 6 countries to develop safeguards systems concepts
To promote greater multilateral support for safeguards, NNSA held an international meeting with attendance by representatives from eleven countries and the International Atomic Energy Agency. The purpose of the meeting was to examine the challenges to the safeguards system, develop a common understanding of anticipated safeguards needs, and outline an international agenda for cooperation to meet those needs
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