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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 16, 1997


International Nuclear Safeguards Strengthened

On May 15, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and its member states took a major step forward in tracking the location and use of nuclear materials worldwide by adopting new safeguards arrangements for strengthening the effectiveness and improving the efficiency of the safeguards system. These new arrangements address a priority goal of President Clinton to combat the threat of weapons of mass destruction by strengthening the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and giving the IAEA a stronger role and sharper tools for conducting worldwide inspections.

These new arrangements, in the form of a model protocol to safeguards agreements, represent the first major change of the IAEA safeguards system in 25 years, and identify new technologies and new methods to strengthen safeguards and improve efficiency. The model protocol requires states to provide additional information on nuclear and nuclear-related activities and gives the IAEA greater access to activities and locations to undercover clandestine nuclear programs.

For many years the IAEA, based in Vienna, has provided oversight of nuclear materials in peaceful nuclear programs worldwide. This system of verification and oversight is known as the international safeguards system, and has been expanded in scope and practice since it began in 1959. While IAEA safeguards inspectors were given access to peaceful nuclear facilities identified by a state to the IAEA, the safeguards system was never designed or intended to detect secret or clandestine nuclear activities such as those undertaken by Iraq prior to the Persian Gulf War. When Iraq's pursuit of a major nuclear weapons development program was discovered in 1991, the IAEA and the world community quickly learned that new tools with sharper teeth were needed in order to guard against the threat of other secret nuclear weapons programs.

The new model protocol will give international nuclear inspectors far greater information about nuclear and nuclear-related activities in a state, and far greater access to nuclear and related facilitates in a state. The IAEA will also have access to other sites when suspicions arise. By accepting a new legally binding Protocol, states will assume these new obligations and ensure far greater transparency for all of their nuclear activities, both declared and undeclared.

This action was the result of a four-year development effort that proceeded in two parts. Part I reemphasizes and focuses on measures under IAEA's existing legal authority to detect undeclared nuclear activities. It was approved by the IAEA Board of Governors in June 1995 and is being implemented now. Part II, approved by the Board of Governors on May 15, consists of new safeguards measures which will significantly strengthen the IAEA's ability to detect clandestine nuclear activities in states with comprehensive safeguards agreements. The strengthened measures under Part II require states to make their nuclear programs more transparent by providing additional information and access.

Elements of Part I include:

taking environmental samples at locations to which the IAEA has access for design information verification or inspections. This will be a powerful tool for detecting the presence of undeclared activities at or near declared nuclear sites;

using no-notice inspections at the strategic points of all nuclear facilities. Such inspections will improve the verification of movement of declared materials and provide another means of detecting the presence of undeclared material;

confirming the Agency's right of access to records of activities carried out before entry-into-force of a safeguards agreement to help ensure that all material has been properly declared; and

use of advanced technologies that can operate unattended to transmit information to Agency headquarters, considerably reducing the need for frequent and expensive inspector travel.

Elements of the Model Protocol under Part II include:

an "expanded declaration" to provide information on nuclear fuel cycle-related activities not involving nuclear material including nuclear research and development and non-nuclear activities that support the nuclear fuel cycle to give the IAEA a far better understanding of a state's nuclear program, its future direction, and the kinds of nuclear activities the program's infrastructure could support;

access to any place on the site of a nuclear facility, to any decommissioned facility, and to any other location where nuclear material is present; to the nuclear-related manufacturing and other locations identified by the state in its expanded declaration; and to other suspect locations identified by the IAEA; and

the use of environmental sampling as well as other measures at these locations.

The United States intends to accept the new measures in the protocol in their entirety except where they involve information or locations of direct national security significance to the United States. It is our intention to make the protocol legally binding, and we will seek legislation that may be needed to implement the protocol here.

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