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NRC's Role in Implementing International Safeguards

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is involved in those aspects of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards that affect NRC-licensed commercial and public nuclear installations.  As such, it brings an important perspective to both U.S. and international deliberations on IAEA safeguards for these facilities. NRC is the only Federal agency that (a) has oversight of the same types of commercial facilities on which the IAEA conducts safeguards inspections and (b) has the experience in facilitating IAEA safeguards for such facilities.

Of the more than 250 NRC-licensed facilities made eligible for IAEA selection for implementing safeguards, to date the IAEA has selected 12 NRC-licensed facilities for inspection campaigns and has currently selected four NRC-licensed facilities for material accounting reporting. The IAEA inspections at one of the inspected facilities verified the down blending of 50 tons of high enriched uranium removed from the U.S. nuclear weapons program into low enriched uranium for use as fuel in nuclear power reactors. In addition, the NRC receives, reviews, and submits declarations with respect to the U.S. Additional Protocol. The NRC has submitted more than 100 entries to the U.S. declarations for NRC-licensed entities.

The NRC conducts outreach activities with the relevant licensees to ensure that they understand their international safeguards responsibilities. The NRC must know and effectively present in national and international forums its licensees concerns with regards to, among others, protection of commercially sensitive and proprietary information, impacts on plant operations, and facility safeguards and security (including information security). This knowledge must be combined with knowledge of the IAEA's objectives, practices, and procedures. The important perspective that NRC brings to international safeguards is the determination as to how IAEA safeguards can be practically applied to effectively and efficiently meet the international safeguards goals of the IAEA and of the U.S. Government. At present, several NRC staff members were former staff in the IAEA's inspectorate, the Department of Safeguards.

In addition to treaty implementation, the NRC provides technical assistance as part of U.S. Government initiatives to enhance international safeguards and verification programs. Through U.S. Government groups, such as the Subgroup on Safeguards Technical Support, the NRC assists the IAEA in developing the technical capabilities to better meet verification challenges throughout the world.

NRC's nonproliferation-related activities are coordinated with the other Federal agencies to ensure that nonproliferation concerns can be raised and addressed consistent with U.S. Government nonproliferation policies. The NRC participates on the following U.S. government committees: Subcommittee of the International Policy Committee, IAEA Steering Committee, Subcommittee on International Safeguards and Monitoring, Subgroup on Implementing [IAEA] Safeguards in the United States, and Subgroup on [IAEA] Safeguards Technical Support.

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Page Last Reviewed/Updated Wednesday, February 08, 2017