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Key Issues Nuclear Energy History Article, Kalpana Chittaranjan

The IAEA as a Safeguards Regime
Kalpana Chittaranjan

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When the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution 687 (the Gulf War ceasefire resolution) was adopted in a very special and unprecedented situation, the UNSC, for the first time, was in a position to determine the terms of a ceasefire and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) enjoyed new prominence after the beginning of inspection activities under the resolution. This was because the IAEA is the only existing international organisation, which was at hand, to fulfil part of the inspection activities foreseen in resolution 687. Where chemical and biological weapons are concerned, there is no similar institution with experience in handling materials related to these weapons of mass destruction (wmd), nor is there a multilateral body which is acquainted with the inspection of ballistic missiles arsenals. The IAEA gained standing by conducting inspections in a previously unknown uranium enrichment plant in Iraq, which placed the Vienna-based Agency on the front pages of the world press. While, at first sight, the inspections appeared to be useful in the handling and the surveillance of nuclear materials and installations, a closer look into the issue, however, seemed to mark the Iraqi case as the beginning of the end of the Agency in its pre-UNSC resolution 687 form. Before going into a discussion of the Agency in its present form, it is useful to trace the origin, history and evolution of the IAEA.

Origin and Early Evolution

Three months after the USA dropped the first two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, US President Harry S. Truman met with the Prime Minister of Great Britain and Canada, in November 1945, to discuss post-war security issues and the atomic bomb. The Three-Nation Declaration on Atomic Energy issued in Washington on November 15, 1945, expressed the view that:

* There can be no monopoly on nuclear weapons, and no effective defense against them.

* Nuclear energy can be a source of benefit to mankind.

* It is vitally important to prevent proliferation and nuclear war and to pursue the peaceful benefits of nuclear energy.

* This is the responsibility of the international community, not just a few nations.

In words that became famous, the trilateral declaration judged, "No system of safeguards that can be devised will, of itself, provide an effective guarantee against the production of atomic weapons bent on aggression." Though the statement did not elaborate on what additional measures would be necessary, it did note:

We are not convinced that the spreading of the specialized information regarding the practical application of atomic energy, before it is possible to devise effective, reciprocal and enforceable safeguards acceptable to all nations, would contribute to a constructive solution of the problem of the atomic bomb. On the contrary, we think it might have the opposite effect.3

The United Nations Atomic Energy Commission (UNAEC), which was created by the very first action of the new United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) when it met in Janaury 1946, was to investigate steps concerning "exchange of atomic weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, and effective safeguards."4 The UNGA noted an important concept while establishing the UNAEC-that "the fruits of scientific research should be freely available to all nations" coupled with the pursuit of arms control and disarmament. The latter objective entailed "effective safeguards by way of inspections and other means to protect complying States against the hazards of violations and evasions." As early as 1946, both the purpose (to "protect complying States") and the methods ("inspections and other means") of safeguards were very clearly articulated.5 However, what remained undefined was the larger architecture of which safeguard (verification) would be one part.

The USA presented a proposal for this architecture through the Acheson-Lilienthal Report. In the Acheson-Lilienthal Report of 1946 (named after the US Secretary of State and the future first Chairman of the US Atomic Energy Commision), President Truman introduced the concept of controlling nuclear energy and fissionable material for either peaceful or military purposes. Though the report did not provide for measures to be taken against violators, the goal of the envisaged organization was only to sound a warning signal in the event of danger.

At the inaugural meeting of the UNAEC, the US delegate, Bernard Baruch, put forward a proposal which came to be known as the Baruch Plan. The Plan envisaged the setting up of an authority to be called the International Atomic Energy Control Agency which would be entrusted with managerial control of all atomic energy activities potentially dangerous to world activities. Its duty was also to foster the beneficial uses of atomic energy. The agency, in particular, was to conduct continuous surveys of supplies of uranium and thorium and bring these materials under its control. It was also to possess the exclusive right, both to conduct research in the field of atomic explosives, and to produce and own fissionable material. All countries were to be granted the freedom of inspection, deemed necessary by the Agency. The Baruch Plan, which was based on the Acheson-Lilienthal Report, differed from the latter in that it stressed the importance of immediate punishment for infringement of the rights of the Agency and maintained that there must be no veto to protect those who violated the agreement by developing or using atomic energy for destructive purposes. It was later explained by the USA that what it had in mind was the ownership and exclusive operation by the international authority of all facilities for the production of uranium-235 and plutonium. Once a system of control and sanctions was operating effectively, producton of atomic weapons would cease, existing stocks would be destroyed, all technological information would be communicated to the authority, which in effect would mean that control would have to come first, followed by atomic disarmament.6

The Soviet Union rejected the Baruch Plan on the grounds that it would interfere with the national soverignty and internal affairs of states and that the provision denying a permanent member of the Security Council the right of veto was contrary to the UN Charter. In turn, the Soviet Union submitted a draft convention, called the Gromyko Plan (after the Soviet delegate who later became Foreign Minister), which reversed the priorities put forward by the USA. The basic differences between the two positions concerned, first, the stage at which atomic weapons were to be prohibited, i.e., whether a convention outlawing these weapons and providing for their destruction should precede or follow the establishent of a control system; and second, the role of the UN Security Council in dealing with possible violations, i.e., whether the rule of veto would be applicable.7

Meanwhile, within two years of its establishment, the UNAEC had become moribund, a victim of both the Cold War and the difficult legal and political issues it sought to address. The impasse remained for five years, until US President Dwight D. Eisenhower made his famous "Atoms for Peace" speech (which was a consequence of the Baruch Plan) at the UNGA in December 1953. Eisenhower's speech emphasized the opportunities to be realized, rather than the danger to be avoided, while he dealt with the control and promotion of nuclear energy. His plan was to promote disarmament by an indirect approach-that of building up the peaceful uses of atomic energy.The atomic powers were to contribute fissionable material for such uses to an agency which would help countries obtain the benefits of atomic energy. In his speech, the proposal for the creation of an atomic energy agency envisioned that "fissionable material would be allocated to serve the peaceful pursuits of mankind...mobilized to apply atomic energy to the needs of agriculture, medicine... and provide abundant electrical energy in the power-starved areas of the world."8

Negotiations for an international atomic energy agency were held from June 1954 through October 1956. Early talks were conducted bilaterally between USA and the Soviet Union. Later, the USA consulted with its allies but when this action was criticized, it widened the group to include the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Brazil and India. A Conference (which was open to all members of the United Nations) was held to complete negotiations on the Statute or Charter of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The focus of the original discussions in the UNAEC had been an international machinery to control nuclear materials and technology to verify the prohibition on nuclear weapons; dissemination of scientific and technical machinery was distinctly a secondary function. Reversing this was the Atoms for Peace proposal which gave dissemination of information and pursuit of civil applications the higher priority.

A key aspect of the negotiations for IAEA dealt with the appropriate balance between its two central functions and also whether the issue was nuclear disarmament, control of uses, or simply verification of member state undertakings. At first, both the Soviet Union and India maintained their previous stance that the objective was nuclear disarmamemt but argued against intrusive safeguards. The objective for the USA was control of peaceful uses and arms control, and it also supported strong safeguards. However, for a number of West European and developing countries which were actively pursuing nuclear research, extensive and intrusive controls were not acceptable. A key to the success of the Statute Conference and the organization it was to create was a resolution of this issue. The relative emphasis on promoting peaceful uses and controlling proscribed uses was also central to the status of verification procedures (safeguards) in the system, because a system that emphasized promotion would not press on strong and intrusive safeguards to the same degree as a regime in which controlling proliferation had the highest priority.

The 'Atoms for Peace' proposal finally led to the IAEA statute being approved on October 26, 1956, at an International Conference held at UN headquarters. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which went into formal operation on July 29, 1957 with the main functions of: assisting research, development and practical application of atomic energy for peaceful purposes; to make provision for relevant materials, services, equipment and facilities, with due consideration for the underdeveloped areas of the world; to foster the exchange of scientific and technical information and to encourage the exchange and training of experts in the field of peaceful uses of atomic energy; to administer safeguards designed to ensure that relevant materials, equipments and information were not used in such a way as to further any military purpose; and to establish standards of safety for the protection of health and the minimization of danger to life and property.11

The Statute of the IAEA identified two objectives for the organization: "to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity throughout the world," and, to "ensure, so far as it is able, that assistance provided by it or at its request or under its supervision or control is not used in such a way as to further any military purposes."12 To accomplish this second objective, one function of the Agency is to:

establish and administer safeguards designed to ensure that special fissionable and other materials, services, equipments, facilities and information made available by the Agency, or at its request or under its supervision or control are not used to further any military purposes; and to apply safeguards, at the request of the parties, to operations under any bilateral or multilateral arrangement, or, at the request of a State, to any of that State's activities in the field of atomic energy.13

The IAEA and the Non-Proliferation Treaty

In 1961, Ireland introduced a resolution in the General Assembly which called for an international agreement banning transfer or acquisition of nuclear weapons. This proposal which was discussed in the Eighteen Nation Disarmament Committee (ENDC) for several years, made little progress. While the USA and the Soviet Union agreed that the treaty must prohibit non nuclear-weapon states (nnws) from manufacturing or otherwise acquiring nuclear weapons, and prohibit nuclear-weapon states (nws) from providing nuclear weapons to non nuclear weapons states, they argued over the implications of these points for NATO.14 Other themes were emphasized by many NNWs, like a need for NWS to pursue arms limitations; the application of nuclear explosives technology to peaceful uses-Peaceful Nuclear Explosives (PNEs); access by the non nuclear weapon states to scientific and technical information and technology relevant to peaceful purposes; and security assurances for non nuclear weapon states. The US and Soviet co-chairmen tabled separate but identical drafts of a convention in August 1967. The text was first discussed at the ENDC and then at the UNGA which adopted a resolution commending the text and encouraging adherence on June 12, 1968. The treaty was signed on July 1, 1968, at London, Washington and Moscow and entered into force on March 5, 1970. A significant feature of the NPT as an arms control agreement is that it divides all potential parties into groups: those states which had manufactured and exploded a nuclear device prior to July 1, 1967 and those which had not. Nuclear weapon states committed themselves to not assisting "any recipient whatsoever" in acquiring nuclear weapons or control over any nuclear explosive devices.17 NNWS commited themselves to not "receive the transfer... or control over" nuclear weapons or nuclear explosives, and "not to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosives devices; and not to seek or receive any assistance" in their manufacture.18 Each non nuclear weapon state, to confirm (in part) these obligations:

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 IAEA] and the Agency's safeguards system, for the exclusive purpose of verification of the fulfilment of its obligations assumed under this Treaty with a view to preventing diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful purposes to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.19

As only non nuclear weapon states are required to accept safeguards, as the new NPT system was shaped and implemented, these states insisted that inspections were to verify national declarations of nuclear material, and not to search the whole country for evidence of violations.A great significance, where the IAEA is concerned, is the fact that the IAEA does not verify compliance with the NPT, but verifies compliance with a safeguards agreement between the state and the IAEA, which the state entered into to fulfill an obligation under the NPT. When the IAEA finds a state in non compliance, (e.g., Iraq), it constitutes a violation of IAEA safeguards agreement. Whether or not a state has violated its NPT obligations is for the NPT parties and the Security Council to judge.

Loopholes in NPT Safeguards System

In accordance with the IAEA's Statute, nuclear safeguards adopted by the Agency before the conclusion of the NPT were to ensure that nuclear items obtained by NNWSs, with the help of the IAEA or under its supervision, were not used in such a way as to further any military purpose. However, international control of nuclear material destined for non-explosive military purposes is not required for IAEA safeguards adopted for the NPT. A dangerous loophole has thus been created because enriched uranium used for the propulsion of ships, especially submarines, is often the same as that used in nuclear weapons. Signatories to the NPT should consider returning to the original stated goal of the IAEA.

The NPT has stipulated precise time-limits for the initiation of negotiations for, and the entry into force of, safeguards agreement between the parties and the IAEA. However, several countries have not yet concluded the required agreement and in many of the cases, have not even started negotiations. In certain cases, (North Korea, for example), when the relevant treaty provision had been ignored, suspicions arose that the basic non-proliferation obligations had been ignored as well. 68 NPT signatories had not complied with their obligations under Article III of the NPT to conclude and put into effect full-scope IAEA safeguards.20

The design of the NPT safeguards has been made in such a way as to enable the IAEA to detect in a timely manner the diversion of "significant quantities" of nuclear material from peaceful nuclear activities to the manufacture of nuclear weapons, or other nuclear explosive devices, or for purposes unknown, as well as to deter diversion by the risk of early detection. Here, "significant quantity" has been defined as the amount of material that a country would need to make its first nuclear explosive device, i.e., 8 kgs of plutonium or 25 kgs of uranium enriched to 20 per cent or more in uranium-235, or 8 kgs of uranium-233. These thresholds, which were set years ago, are now deemed to be too high and should be lowered, because, as has been pointed out by Jozef Goldblat, with new, more advanced methods of assembling a nuclear explosive device, the amount of highly enriched uranium could be smaller than the threshold indicated above, and could be made into a nuclear device with an explosive yield of many kilotons.21

As far as "timely detection" is concerned, the IAEA relates it to the estimated time that would be needed to convert diverted material into components of a nuclear explosive device. The time frame, which would vary according to the nature of the material, has been set as 7-10 days for plutonium or highly-enriched uranium in metallic form (the so-called "direct-use" material); 1-3 months for plutonium in spent reactor fuel; and about one year for natural low-enriched uranium. Goldblat suggests that in these cases, the threshold should be lowered because non-nuclear components of nuclear weapons, many of which are available in international commerce, could be prepared secretly in advance, so that the weapons itself would be completed almost immediately, once the nuclear component became available. Countries would then become very close to having a nuclear weapons capability without being detected by the IAEA.22

The NPT safeguards apply only to nuclear materials unlike the pre-NPT safeguards which apply to both nuclear materials and facilities. Countries could thus build or import facilities and equipment associated with nuclear material without informing the IAEA. They must provide design information of the facilities to make subsequent application of safeguards easier, but they are obliged to do so only shortly before the material subject to safeguards is introduced into the facility.

Only the IAEA, and not signatories to the NPT, according to the rules in force, may formally initiate visits to undeclared sites in countries suspected of non-compliance with the non-proliferation commitments. To initiate such special inspections, the IAEA must first detect suspicious activities. However, it may be unable to do this unless it establishes its own intelligence-gathering services, or obtains relevant intelligence from national agencies. This information may or may not be provided and even if it is, may be deliberately misleading or it may only be given in exchange for some confidential data possessed by the IAEA.

Amending the NPT could improve the existing non-proliferation mechanisms. The Treaty provides that amendments may be adopted by a majority but they require the consent of the nuclear weapon states as well as those other states that are members of the IAEA Board at the time they are circulated.23

Information Circular 153

In 1972, the IAEA's Board of Governors created a special committee of the Board, open to all members of the IAEA and known as the Safeguards Committee, to establish new safeguards procedures specifically tailored to the NPT, which was in response to the NPT provisions relating to the establishment of a specific safeguards system for its implementation. The Safeguards Commitee, over the course of about eight months, produced a model safeguards agreement, known as, "The Structure and Content of Agreements Between the Agency and States Required in Connection with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons." The Board of Governors reviewed and approved this document, which was published as Information Circular INFCIRC/153.24 This establishes a two-tiered safeguards system. While Part I of the document identifies the principal legal and administrative aspects of the safeguards agreement, Part II elaborates the rights and obligations of the IAEA, the country and individual facility operators.25

The NPT Review and Extension Conference

The most important of the three decisions taken simultaneously on May 11, 1995, at the Review and Extension Conference was that of deciding, without a vote, to recognize that a majority of the parties favoured the treaty having an indefinite duration.26 The other two decisions included Strengthening the Review Process for the Treaty27 and Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament.28 Additionally, the conference subsequently passed a resolution calling for the creation of a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. However, the conference was unable to agree on the text of a final declaration, mainly because of disagreement over whether Article VI of the NPT which obliged NWS to "pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control', had been complied by the nuclear weapon states."29

The most universal non-proliferation regime, i.e., the NPT, had, by the end of 1996, 187 signatories. Among the non-signatories to the treaty are the three threshold nuclear countries- India, Israel and Pakistan. India has not signed the treaty because it considers that the treaty benefits the nuclear-haves and discriminates against the have-nots.

Actions inviting IAEA Safeguards30

The Zangger Committee: The Nuclear Exporters Committee, better known as the Zangger Committee afer its first Chairman, was established in 1974 as an intergovernmental group to coordinate multilateral export controls on nuclear materials. It laid down the original 'trigger list'(which was subsequently revised in 1995 when modifications were made to the list by members of the Committee) of items (equipment or material) which would, if exported to a non-nuclear weapon state that was not a party to the NPT, trigger the application of IAEA safeguards.

Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG): The NSG, also known as the London Club, was established in 1978. It coordinates multilateral export controls on nuclear materials and agreed to the Guidelines for Nuclear Transfers(London Guidelines-revised in 1993). The Guidelines contain a 'trigger list', which was adopted from the Zangger Committee list, of equipment and material which,as mentioned above, if exported to a non-nuclear weapon state that was not a party to the NPT, would be subject to IAEA safeguards. The group met informally from March 1991 and again in Warsaw from March 31-April 3, 1992, during which Russia replaced the USSR. The Warsaw meeting was responsible for the production of the Export Regime for Nuclear-related Dual-Use items. In 1995, New Zealand and South Africa joined the NSG, thus bringing its membership to 31 countries. The year also saw the Group's members revising the annexes to the Guidelines for Guidelines for Transfers of Nuclear-related Dual-use Equipment, Material and Related Technology.

The IAEA and NWFZs

Regional approaches to curb nuclear proliferation have led to the application of full-scope IAEA safeguards for treaties establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones (NWFZs). These are the 1967 Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin American and the Caribbean, also known as the Treaty of Tlatelolco (which entered into force in February 1996, following Cuba's ratification), the 1985 South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone (Rarotonga) Treaty, the African Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty of 1995 (also known as the Treaty of Pelindaba), and the Treaty on the South East Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone.

Recent IAEA Activities

Iraq, UNSC Resolution 687 and UNSCOM

Consequent to Iraq President Sadam Hussein's decision to attack Kuwait on August 2, 1990, a series of Security Council resolutions that called upon Iraq to withdraw immediately and unconditionally were passed with near-unanimity. The UN also imposed a number of economic sanctions on the country, which was implemented through a naval blockade. At the same time the embargo war was on, intense diplomatic efforts to achieve a peaceful solution were made in parallel with military preparations for a war against Iraq, should diplomacy fail. Saudi Arabia's defenses against an Iraqi attack were bolstered by "Desert Shield." On November 29, 1990, the UN Security Council Resolution 678 authorised "member states cooperating with Kuwait" to "use all necessary means...to restore international peace and security in the area" unless Iraq withdrew by January 15, 1991. The War ("Desert Storm") began with a gigantic nocturnal air attack (16-17 January 1991) and ended in February 1991, after large-scale ground offensive (starting February 24) forced Iraq's capitulation.

UNSC Resolution 687 (also known as the ceasefire resolution) which was passed on April 3, 1991, provided for the inspection and removal, destruction or rendering harmless of all weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and of all materials and facilities which can be used for weapons of mass destruction, including the means of delivery most apt for their use. Iraq, which accepted the terms of the resolution,33 had to submit detailed reports of its inventories in the nuclear, chemical and biological fields as well as of missiles with a range exceeding 150 kms. Furthermore, the Security Council decided that Iraq had to accept inspections in order to verify the declarations and set a time limit for the destruction, removal or rendering harmless of the relevant materials. Where nuclear weapons are concerned, the resolution states that:

Iraq shall unconditionally agree not to acquire or develop nuclear weapons or nuclear-weapons-usable material or any sub-system or component or any research, development, support or manufacturing facilities related to the above."

For implementation of this provision, Iraq was obliged to submit a declaration on nuclear weapons, nuclear-weapons-usable material and related facilities to the United Nations Secretary General and to the Director General of the IAEA. The country also had "to place all of its nuclear-weapons-usable materials under the exclusive control, for custody and removal,"35 of the IAEA. The resolution did not provide for IAEA control over nuclear weapons that might be discovered in Iraq. The removal of nuclear materials posed legal problems concerning the future ownership of the materials, a question that could only be clarified by UNSC resolution 707 of August 15, 1991.36

With regard to the handling of the issue of nuclear materials, some wording in the Security Council was indeed revolutionary. There would have been an outcry in any international forum before the Gulf War, for the use of the term "nuclear-weapons-usable materials." Such unequivocal wording had not been made by either the IAEA or any of the NPT conferences before, in order to maintain that it is possible to distinguish between civilian and military programmes. The IAEA safeguards on nuclear activities of NPT signatories only apply to "special fissionable materials and source material."37 For the Agency, the term "direct-use material" is employed.38

The UN established the Special Commission (UNSCOM) headed by Rolf Ekeus, Sweden's onetime chief delegate to the Conference on Disarmament, to carry out the inspections on Iraq's alleged arsenals of weapons of mass destruction. UNSCOM is composed of several sub-groups, each of which is in charge of a category of weapons of mass destruction and one on long-term verification planning. Though there is also a sub-group responsible for nuclear weapons, UNSC Resolution 687 explicitly names the IAEA as being responsible for implementing this section of the resolution, thus making it the only international organisation, besides the United Nations, directly involved in the process.

While Iraq made its first declaration on its chemical, biological and missile capabilities on April 18, 1991 in a letter to the secretary-general of the United Nations,39 with regard to its nuclear inventory, the country made a statement on the categories named by the Security Council but did not submit a detailed list. However, a list of nuclear materials and facilities, including quantities and locations was provided to the head of the IAEA action team (dated April 27, 1991).

Under resolution 687, the first six inspections were carried out between May and September 1991. In general terms, the inspection teams had the following missions:

1. Verification of Iraqi declarations submitted to the UN;

2. Inspection of sites designated by UNSCOM, suspected of being enrichment plants, mainly the electromagnetic isotope separation (EMIS) facilities;

3. Inspection of further sites suspected of being EMIS plants and investigations on the scope of the centrifuge programme;

4. Assessing the industrial capacities of Iraq and further investigations on the centrifuge enrichment efforts;

5. Verification of the presence of previously sealed inventories;

6. Analysis of documents relevant to the overall structure of the Iraqi nuclear weapons programme.40

Plants allegedly used for assembling nuclear weapons or related research and development were also visited and inspected. The IAEA teams made assessments of the capabilities and, to some extent, on the probability that the installations were part of a nuclear-weapons programme, at all stages of the inspection process. Additonally, the IAEA developed a long-term plan for future monitoring and verification of Iraq's compliance with UNSC resolution 687.

The IAEA's experience in the nuclear field proved useful in conducting the inspections in Iraq but a major part of the task assigned to the teams was entirely new to the Agency. The different missions that the IAEA fulfilled under resolution 687, can be summarized under the following six cateories:

1. Inspection activities similar to regular IAEA inspections, i.e, control of inventory and measurement of degrees of enrichment;

2. Identification of installations for the production of nuclear-weapons-usable materials (enrichment and extraction plants), i.e., evaluation of design quality and production capacities;

3. Assessment of industrial capacities for indigenous construction of enrichment and extraction plants, i.e., inspections in non-nuclear sectors of the industry;

4. Identification of potential plants for weaponization, i.e., controls on non-nuclear components of weapons construction;

5. Search for evidence of plans for a nuclear-weapons programme, i.e., analysis of research and production;

6. Removal of nuclear-weapons-usable material.41

By October 1994, the Baghdad Monitoring and Verification Center (BMVC), which was established in August 1994, was operating in a 'test mode' and focusing on its future tasks under the UNSCOM mandate, which included, inter alia, monitoring and coordination with the IAEA, activities relating to nuclear weapons.42 In March 1995, revised annexes and lists for future monitoring and verification of Iraq's compliance with the relevant parts of section C of Security Council Resolution 687 were presented to the Security Council (UNSC document S/1995/208 dated March 17, 1995) while in July 1995, the Sanctions Committee approved an UNSCOM-IAEA joint proposal for the import and export control mechanism (UNSC document S/1995/864 dated October 11, 1995).43

On the issue of nuclear materials, the six-month (covering the period October 11, 1996, to April 1, 1997) report presented by UNSCOM to the Security Council, stated inter alia:

UNSCOM continued to provide 'logistical and other operational support for the IAEA, to designate sites for inspection and to receive and advise on requests from Iraq to move or use any material or equipment related to Iraq's nuclear weapon programme or other nuclear activities. The Commission's nuclear experts also participate in the nuclear aspects of the export/import monitoring mechanism in the analysis of the content of notification forms in coordination and cooperation with the IAEA.

Multi-disciplinary inspections have been conducted and additional missions of this sort are planned in the coming year. Closer integration between the Commission's and the IAEA's systems continues to be implemented.44

Timothy McCarthy, an Inspector with UNSCOM said that the IAEA, on the nuclear front, could be said to have "the most complete story"45, where information was concerned as compared to the other weapons of mass destruction, i.e., chemical and biological weapons in Iraq.

South Africa

The then President of South Africa, F.W. De Clerk, in a speech to the parliament disclosed that the country had developed and produced nuclear weapons in the late 1970s but that these weapons were dismantled and destroyed before it acceded to the NPT in 1991. He said:

Since the accession to the NPT, South Africa has strictly adhered to the conditions of the NPT and has maintained a policy of transparency and professional cooperation with the IAEA. This positive approach has led to South Africa's resuming its seat at the IAEA General conference. Since September 1991, without opposition, after an absence of 12 years.

The process of verifying the completeness of South Africa's declaration of nuclear materials and facilities has proceeded so successfully that the IAEA was in the position to report to the Board of Governors in September 1992, after a large number of IAEA inspections, that nothing had been found to suggest that South Africa's inventory of nuclear materials and facilities was not complete, nor was there anything to suggest that the list of facilities and materials submitted for controls were incomplete...46

He further went on to add that the number of "nuclear fission devices" that were manufactured and destroyed were six in number, thus making South Africa, the only country in the world so far, to have completely eliminated its nuclear weapons capability and placed its nuclear programme under IAEA safeguards voluntarily, a move which appears to have been a product of changed security perceptions resulting in large part from the end of the East-West conflict.

North Korea

Though the country signed the NPT in December 1985, it announced on March 12, 1993, that it would withdraw from the Treaty, as from June 12, 1993, to "defend its supreme interests"47 as it considered the IAEA request to inspect two suspected nuclear fuel storage sites at the Yongbyon nuclear conplex to be an encroachment of the sovereignty of the country, an interference in its internal affairs and a hostile act. Earlier, on January 30, 1992, the country signed a nuclear safeguards accord with the IAEA and following this, during the course of the year, the Agency conducted six separate inspections of the North's nuclear facilities. The trouble started when North Korea refused to give IAEA inspectors access to additional information following the discovery of inconsistencies during routine inspections by the Agency. On June 11, 1993, one day before the withdrawal from the NPT was to become effective, North Korea suspended the decision. However, it continued to be in noncompliance witht he IAEA's safeguards obligations throughout the next few months and it renounced its IAEA membership on June 13, 1994. The USA then started on a two-track diplomatic effort. While one track involved trying to persuade the permanent members of the UNSC to impose sanctions on North Korea, the second involved direct, intense negotiations with the country following a mediation visit by former US President Jimmy Carter, to Pyongyang. A framework agreement on October 21, 1994, finally resulted from these talks.48

The agreement, which is to be implemented in a phased manner according to a precise timetable will see North Korea halting the operation of its research reactor and all reprocesing facilities and will stop construction work on two larger reactors and a reprocessing plant. The USA would immediately begin supplying heavy fuel oil to help North Korea meet its energy demands. An international consortium to aid the civilian nuclear energy sector in North Korea would finance and supply two light water reactors. North Korea would permit 'special inspections' requested by the IAEA and implement all measures the Agency deemed necessary to bring the country to full compliance with its obligations.49

Writing for Washington Post, on March 27, 1997, Victor Gilinsky and Henry Sokolski criticized what they saw as a reinterpretation of the Agreed Framework and stated, "North Korea still refuses to allow such inspections, and likely by the time the IAEA gets to carry them out (if it does at all) the information will be stale and inconclusive."50

"Programme 93+2" (Stronger Safeguards System for the IAEA)

Consequent to the experiences in Iraq, the IAEA has implemented a series of changes in its safeguards system and practice. By the end of 1994, these changes included: the full debriefing of returning inspectors; installation of country desk officers charged with collecting and assessing all available information about a safeguarded country; provision of early design information even before construction of a nuclear facility has begun; establishment of a system of universal reporting of transfers of nuclear material, equipment and technology in which most suppliers participate; and the use of all information, including intelligence data submitted voluntarily by member states, to identify possible undeclared sites to which the Agency could then request access by a 'special inspection, as had been practiced in North Korea.51

In order to continue improving its safeguards system, the agency conducted a comprehensive review of the technical, legal and financial implications of various options in the context of its '93+2' programme which was the IAEA secretariat's plan to allow the IAEA to safeguard declared nuclear material more cost-effectively and deal with the possibility of undeclared nuclear activities.52

A definition of the programme was given by Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) Director, John Holum, who described it as, "The decision to strengthen safeguards was made in 1993. And 'Plus 2' meant it was to be completed in 1995."53

Inter alia, the programme included the following aspects: (a) information management, that is, the ability to acquire, review, store, analyse, validate and retrieve large volumes of information on global nulcear activities; (b) tamper-proof remote monitoring at nuclear facilities, with real-time transmittal of measurement to IAEA headquarters; (c) environmental monitoring, that is, the sampling and analysis of probes from water, air and soil, at and near nuclear facilities, in order to detect release of radionucleides that could signify the existence of undeclared activities; and (d) the use of commercial satellite data.54

In March 1995, the IAEA Board of Governors endorsed the general direction of the programme and the Board was presented with a two-part document detailing specific proposals to achieve its aims. While Part I consisted of those measures which it was agreed could be implemented through the Agency's existing legal authority under INFCIR/153 or the IAEA Statutes, Part II comprised of those measures which some states believed could only be implemented if additional legal powers were given to the Agency. It was at its June 1995 meeting that the Board approved the implementation of the Part I measures which focused on expanded declarations and these began being implemented in September 1995, and at its December 1995 meeting, discussions began on the Part II measures which will permit accumulation of more information and expanded access to nuclear facilities.55

The 93+2 Safeguards Committee, which was tasked with writing a protocol to INFCIRC/153 to provide a legal basis for the new safeguard steps the IAEA wanted to implement, resolved the outstanding differences on the protocol during its meeting at Vienna from January 20-31, 1997 and approved the draft model protocol during its meeting from April 2-4, 1997.56 A special meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors was to be called later for final approval of the draft.


Today, as the world gears up for the next millenium, the IAEA's role as a safeguards regime has evolved over the years from what its stated goals were when it was established forty years ago. The objectives of the Agency as laid down in its Statute can be summed up under the two terms of 'promotion' and 'safeguards', to which one more term, i.e., 'safety' (which does not appear in the Statute), can be added. These three tasks compete with each other for the best position on the IAEA's scale of objectives. Also, different member states want the Agency to set different priorities. The national atomic energy agency of the ministry responsible for research and development would be assigned the responsibility for Agency affairs by a government stressing the promotional tasks. Presumably, the focus on safety would be reflected by a leading role of the ministry in charge of environmental protection, while a government focussing on non-proliferation and safeguards would probably delegate the responsibility to its foreign office.57

The Agency's agenda priorities are subject to constant change and are heavily affected by events in the field of nuclear energy (eg., the Chernobyl disaster and the Gulf War). There is continuous competition between the technical cooperation and safeguards budgets. The industrial countries that contribute the biggest share of the Agency's total budget are not prepared to raise it by more than the inflation rate. If, as a result of this stalemate on budgetary matters, priority is given to cost efficiency rather than to effectiveness, the safeguards regime is likely to weaken the current system rather than improve it.

As it continues to evolve, the IAEA continues to acquire new tasks. By the end of 1994, the following took place: safeguards agreements were entered into force with the successor states of the former Soviet Union, all of which had some nuclear activities on thier territories and some such as Ukraine, have a large number of facilities; the Agency co-verifies the commitments of Argentina and Brazil in cooperation with the Argentine-Brazilian Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials (ABACC), which is their verification organisation; South Africa's various nuclear activities are also safeguarded; the USA had dedicated 7 tonnes of plutonium to safeguards, while inspection of about 10 tonnes of HEU at Oak Ridge Tennessee took place in September 1994.58 Also, the HEU transferred from Russia to the USA is under IAEA supervision and one can be sure that more monitoring on the disarmament process can be expected in the future.

On March 23, 1995, members of the Conference on Disarmament (CD) agreed to establish a mandate to negotiate a treaty banning the production of fissile material. Western delegations to the Preparatory Commission (PrepCom) of the NPT, meeting on April 17, 1997, made it clear that their first priority was to urge that fissban negotiations should begin immediately on the basis of the Shannon Report and mandate agreed in March 1995. Pending conclusion of the fissban, Canada proposed that the NWS should be urged to commit themselves to 'forever cease production of fissile material' for weapons, to reduce their fissile material stockpiles and place more under IAEA safeguards.59 It is therefore required that if the IAEA has to have more 'teeth', Part II of the 93+2 Programme, which will permit accumulation of more information and expanded access to nuclear facilities be implemented soon.


1. J.Christian Kessler, Verifying Nonproliferation Treaties: Obligations, Process and Sovereignty, (Washington D.C.: National Defense University Press, 1995), pp.23-24.

2. William Epstein, The Last Chance: Nuclear Proliferation and Arms Control, (New York: The Free Press, 1976), p.4.

3. Ibid., p.5.

4. Allan McKnight, Atomic Safeguards : A Study in International Verification, (New York: UNITAR, 1971), p.4.

5. Ibid.

6. Jozef Goldblat, Arms Control, (London: PRIO, 1994), pp.30-31.

7. Ibid., pp.31-32.

8. General Assembly Official Records (GAOR), Session 8, plenary mtg. 470th; December 8, 1953, p.450.

9. The seven allies were selected on the basis that they were either advanced in nuclear technology or producers of nuclear materials (United Kingdom, Canada, France, South Africa, Belgium, Australia, and Portugal). See McKnight, n.4, pp21-23. and Lawrence Scheinman, The International Atomic Energy Agency and World Nuclear Order, (Washington D.C. Resources for the Future, 1987), 63-73.

10. Kessler, n.1, pp. 26-27.

11. Goldblat, n.6, p.32.

12. See Article II of the Statute of the IAEA.

13. Ibid., Article III/6.

14. McKnight, n.4, p.67.

15. Ibid., pp. 67-68.

16. See Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons ("NPT"), Article IX/3.

17. Ibid., Article I.

18. Ibid., Article II.

19. Ibid., Article III/1.

20. The Arms Control Reporter: A Chronicle of Treaties, Negotiations, Proposals, Weapons & Policy, 1997. (Massachusetts: IDDS, 1997), p. 602.A.2.

21. Jozef Goldblat, "Prospects for Improving Nuclear Non-Proliferation Mechanisms," in Andrew Mack, ed., Nuclear Policies in Northeast Asia, (New York: UNIDIR, 1995), p.17.

22. Ibid., p.18.

23. Ibid., pp.16-28.

24. For a detailed description of this system, see David Fischer, "International Safeguards", in Jozef Goldblat, ed., Safeguarding the Atom: A Critical Appraisal, (London: SIPRI, 1985), p.79 ff.

25. For a detailed account of INFCIRC/153, see Kessler, no., 1., pp.37-43.

26. For text of Extension of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, see appendix 13 A in SIPRI Yearbook 1996: Armaments, Disarmament and International Security, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), p.590.

27. Ibid., pp. 590-591.

28. Ibid., pp. 591-593.

29. For a comprehensive accountof the NPT Review and Extension Conference, see Simpson, J, "The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Regime after the NPT Review and Extension Conference," in n.25, SIPRI Yearbook 1996, pp.561-608.

30. For a detailed discussion o the Zangger Committee and the NSG, see Anthony, I, et. al., "Multilateral weapon-related export control measures," Sipri Yearbook 1995: Armaments, Disarmament and International Security (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1995), pp.601-607.

31. These modifications were published as IAEA document INFCIRC/209/Rev.1/Mod.3, Oct. 1995.

32. The revised guidelines were published as IAEA document INFCIR/254/Rev.2/Part 2, Oct. 1995.

33. The letters by the permanent representative of Iraq to the United Nations to the Secretary-General of the United Nations and to the President of the Security Council are contained in Security Council documents S/22456 and S/22480.

34. See S/RES/687 (1991), operative paragraph 12.

35. Ibid.

36. See S/RES/707 (1991), operative paragraph 4. This resolution determines, inter alia, that Iraq shall maintain no ownership over its nuclear-weapons materials and that Iraq shall accept airborne inspections by UN inspectors. In contrast to UNSC Resolution 687, this resolution was not subject to Iraqi acceptance.

37. NPT, Article III.

38. IAEA Safeguards Glossary, (Vienna: IAEA, 1987), p.12.

39. Reproduced in the Arms Control Reporter : A Chronicle of Treaties, Negotiations, Proposals, Weapons & Policy, 1991 (Massachusetts: IDDS, 1991) pp.453. D. 4.7.

40. Eric Chauvistre, The Implications of IAEA Inspections under Security Council Resolution 687, (New York: UNIDIR, 1992), p.11. As the title implies, this book gives a comprehensive overview of UNSC Resolution 687.

41. Ibid., p.15.

42. SIPRI Yearbook 1996, n.25, p.692.

43. Ibid., p.693.

44. The Arms Control Reporter, n.20, pp.453, B-1, 67-68.

45. Timothy V. McCarthy, Senior Analyst at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, delivering a talk on UNSCOM at the India International Center, New Delhi, on 21-4-1997.

46. For full text of speech, see SIPRI Yearbook 1994, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994), pp.631-634.

47. For text of statement of North Korea's intended withdrawal from the NPT, see Ibid., p.630.

48. For Agreed Framework of October 21, 1994 text signed between the USA and North Korea, see IAEA document INFCIRC/457, November 2, 1994.

49. for a comprehensive coverage of the North Korean crisis, see SIPRI Yearbook 1995, n.30, pp.653-56; Harrison, S., "The North Korean nuclear crisis: from stalemate to breakthrough," Arms Control Today, vol.24, no.9 (November 1994), pp.18-20; and Wolfsthal, J., "US, Pyongyang reach accord on North's nuclear programme," Arms Control Today, vol. 24, no.9, (November 1994), pp. 25-32.

50. The Arms Control Reporter, n..20, p.457, C.1.

51. Anthony, I, et al., SIPRI Yearbook 1995, n.30, p.667.

52. See Hooper, R, "Strengthening IAEA Safeguards in an Era of Nuclear Cooperation", Arms Control Today, vol.25, no.9, (November 1995), pp.14-18 for a comprehensive coverage of the IAEA's '93+2' programme.

53. The Arms Control Reporter, n.20, p.602. B.321.

54. Anthony, I, et al., SIPRI Yearbook 1995, n.30, p.667.

55. Simpson, J, SIPRI Yearbook 1996, n.28.

56. The Arms Control Reporter, no.20, p.602. B.321-22.

57. Chauvistre, n.40, p.27.

58. SIPRI Yearbook 1995, n.30, p.668.

59. The Arms Control Reporter, n.20, pp.612. B.33-34.

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