To deter the proliferation of nuclear explosive devices, most of the countries of the world have become party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Article III of the NPT requires the non-nuclear weapon state signatories to accept international safeguards on all nuclear material within the country. To implement this article of the treaty, comprehensive safeguards agreements (based on the INFCIRC/153 model agreement) have been signed and brought into force with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). To address weaknesses identified over time in these safeguards agreements related to detecting of undeclared activities and misuse of nuclear facilities, countries have also signed and brought into force a protocol to their agreement (based on the INFCIRC/540 model additional protocol). Safeguards agreements with the IAEA are also required in bilateral and multilateral nuclear cooperation agreements and in Nuclear Weapon Free Zone treaties.
The overall purpose of IAEA safeguards is to provide credible assurance to the international community that States do not divert nuclear material and other specified items from peaceful nuclear uses. The IAEA's authority is based on the authorities granted in the safeguards agreements signed and brought into force by the countries. The technical measures used to implement IAEA safeguards include observation, review of records and reports, nuclear material accounting, destructive and nondestructive measurements, containment and surveillance, and unattended monitoring. Using all safeguards-relevant information known about a State and available verification technologies, the IAEA implements safeguards measures at both the country and facility levels. The IAEA continually evaluates information from its verification activities and each year draws and publishes conclusions on the peaceful use of nuclear materials within each country.
Additional information on IAEA safeguards is available through the IAEA's Safeguards website. A summary of the safeguards activities during the past year is published in the Nuclear Verification chapter of the IAEA Annual Report.
International safeguards are implemented by IAEA in the United States (U.S.) under the U.S. – IAEA Safeguards Agreement and the U.S. Additional Protocol. Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR) Part 75 places requirements on licensees that ensure that the United States will be able to meet its nuclear non-proliferation obligations under the safeguards agreement and additional protocol. These requirements include providing information on nuclear facilities which are not associated with activities of direct national security significance to the United States, information on nuclear fuel cycle-related activities, information on nuclear material inventories and on shipments and receipts, and access to nuclear fuel cycle locations to verify the declared information. Additional information on implementation of IAEA safeguards with respect to NRC licensees is available through the above Related Information links.
- NRC's Role in Implementing International Safeguards
- U.S.—IAEA Safeguards Agreement
- U.S. Additional Protocol
- Implementing IAEA Safeguards
- Safeguards by Design
- IAEA Safeguards Frequently Asked Questions
- Additional Protocol Frequently Asked Questions