International Affairs:

New and Better Equipment Being Made Available for International Nuclear Safeguards

NSIAD-84-46: Published: Jun 14, 1984. Publicly Released: Jun 14, 1984.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO evaluated U.S. research and development efforts regarding equipment for the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) nuclear safeguards program.

The main mechanism by which the United States assists IAEA is the Program of Technical Assistance to Safeguards (POTAS). Through POTAS, the United States has developed 21 types of safeguard equipment for IAEA use. GAO found that most of this equipment is available for use; however, the adequacy of such equipment is uncertain because neither the United States nor IAEA has criteria for determining equipment adequacy. Of the 21 types of equipment, 15 are in some degree of use, while the others are either being tested or are not expected to be used. GAO believes that multilateral coordination with a technical emphasis among IAEA members is necessary and would enable IAEA to better plan and control safeguards activities and facilitate exchanges of technical information about equipment under development.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: IAEA has held additional support program coordinators' conferences and established an interdivisional task force to improve how IAEA defines and coordinates the support program activities. State advised that additional efforts will be undertaken on this recommendation because it continues to be valid.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should request IAEA to further develop and implement coordination mechanisms to help achieve a fully integrated, multilateral safeguards support program among countries providing substantial support.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: State continues to hold bilateral discussions with other countries on this subject. It considers this an ongoing effort.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State, after consulting with the other POTAS member agencies, should direct the POTAS program to work with the IAEA Secretariat to follow through on planned equipment testing, to encourage early routine use at facilities in the United States, and to encourage other nations providing voluntary assistance to IAEA safeguards to do the same.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Two 1986 projects have been defined to help in this effort. One project will develop standards and formal procedures for each piece of safeguard equipment as an element of a safeguards program. Rather than define how to operate the equipment, this project will interrelate the equipment, facility, and safeguards approach. This is part of an ongoing effort.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should, after consulting with the other POTAS member agencies, direct the POTAS program to assess the IAEA Secretariat's concern that the current documentation on equipment usage, operation, and training is not meeting the needs of IAEA and, if necessary, adjust the U.S. assistance efforts to address this problem.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: State held additional discussions on this subject in early November 1985. Progress is being made, according to State, in procuring equipment. Recent delays have been beyond IAEA control, but State continues to monitor and work on this problem. It considers the recommendation valid and part of its ongoing program.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should monitor IAEA progress in procuring and supporting its planned equipment needs and, if problems occur, work with the IAEA Secretariat to develop strategies for overcoming them.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

 

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