- Nuclear safeguards and Australia’s uranium export policy (2016 submission)
- Detailed 2010 paper on the limitations of safeguards and Australia’s uranium export policies (PDF)
- Articles about problems with the nuclear safeguards system and Australia’s uranium export policy (Word file)
- Quotable quotes about safeguards and proliferation
The unprofessional, dishonest Australian Safeguards and Non-proliferation Office (ASNO)
- Detailed EnergyScience Coalition critique of ASNO (PDF)
- Critique of ASNO by Friends of the Earth
- Newspaper articles and media releases about ASNO
More information about safeguards
Australian literature (dealing with Australian and international issues)
- Friends of the Earth information on connections between peaceful nuclear programs and weapons proliferation.
- Friends of the Earth information on Australia’s uranium customer countries.
- Medical Association for Prevention of War information on safeguards.
- Medical Association for the Prevention of War and Australian Conservation Foundation, 2006, ‘An Illusion of Protection: The Unavoidable Limitations of Safeguards’.
- Australian Safeguards and Non-proliferation Office (federal government agency)
- Value-subtracting: Form vs. substance in Australian uranium safeguard policy, Richard Leaver, Austral Special Report 09-08S, 11 December 2009, Nautilus Institute
- Nuclear Safeguards: some Canadian questions about Australian policy, Richard Leaver, Austral Policy Forum 09-5A, 23 February 2009
- International Atomic Energy Agency – Safeguards & Verification
- Henry Sokolski (ed.), Feb 2008, ‘Falling Behind: International Scrutiny of the Peaceful Atom‘ (also online here)
- Alan J. Kuperman, David Sokolow, and Edwin S. Lyman, March 18, 2014, ‘Can the IAEA Safeguard Fuel-Cycle Facilities?’, Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project, click here or for direct download click here and see the project homepage.
- Former IAEA Safeguards Director Pierre Goldschmidt, 15 Nov 2011, ‘Looking beyond Iran and North Korea for Safeguarding the Foundations of Nuclear Nonproliferation’.
- Strategic Studies Institute Publications Office, United States Army War College, June 2014, ‘Moving Beyond Pretense: Nuclear Power and Nonproliferation‘.
- Henry Sokolski, 3 Nov 2010, ‘Building Support for the Agencys Safeguards Mission’, Nonproliferation Policy Education Centre, (or direct download)
- Non-proliferation Policy Education Centre and see in particular the section on the non-proliferation regime.
- Nuclear Power Joint Fact Finding Dialogue, June 2007
Summary – the limitations of safeguards
Short excerpt from August 2015 submission to the SA Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission, by Friends of the Earth, Australia; the Australian Conservation Foundation; and the Conservation Council of SA.
The limitations of safeguards − summary
There are many problems and limitations with the international safeguards system. In articles and speeches during his tenure as IAEA Director General from 1997− 2009, Dr. Mohamed El Baradei said that the Agency’s basic rights of inspection are “fairly limited”, that the safeguards system suffers from “vulnerabilities” and “clearly needs reinforcement”, that efforts to improve the system have been “half-hearted”, and that the safeguards system operates on a “shoestring budget … comparable to that of a local police department”.
Problems with safeguards include:
- Chronic under-resourcing. El Baradei told the IAEA Board of Governors in 2009: “I would be misleading world public opinion to create an impression that we are doing what we are supposed to do, when we know that we don’t have the money to do it.” Little has changed since 2009. Meanwhile, the scale of the safeguards challenge is ever-increasing as new facilities are built and materials stockpiles grow.
- Issues relating to national sovereignty and commercial confidentiality adversely impact on safeguards.
- The inevitability of accounting discrepancies. Nuclear accounting discrepancies are commonplace and inevitable due to the difficulty of precisely measuring nuclear materials. The accounting discrepancies are known as Material Unaccounted For (MUF). There have been incidents of large-scale MUF in Australia’s uranium customer countries such as the UK and Japan.
- Incorrect/outdated assumptions about the amount of fissile material required to build a weapon.
- The fact that the IAEA has no mandate to prevent the misuse of civil nuclear facilities and materials − at best it can detect misuse/diversion and refer the problem to the UN Security Council. As the IAEA states: “It is clear that no international safeguards system can physically prevent diversion or the setting up of an undeclared or clandestine nuclear programme.” Numerous examples illustrate how difficult and protracted the resolution (or attempted resolution) of such issues can be, e.g. North Korea, Iran, Iraq in the 1970s and again in the early 1990s. Countries that have breached their safeguards obligations can simply withdraw from the NPT and pursue a weapons program, as North Korea has done.
- Safeguards are shrouded in secrecy − to give one example, the IAEA used to publish aggregate data on the number of inspections in India, Israel and Pakistan, but even that nearly worthless information is no longer publicly available.
- There are precedents for the complete breakdown of nuclear safeguards in the context of political and military conflict − examples include Iraq, Yugoslavia and several African countries.
- Currently, IAEA safeguards only begin at the stage of uranium enrichment. Application of IAEA safeguards should be extended to fully apply to mined uranium ores, to refined uranium oxides, to uranium hexafluoride gas, and to uranium conversion facilities, as well as enrichment and subsequent stages of the nuclear fuel cycle. The Joint Standing Committe on Treaties (JSCT) recommended in 2008 that “the Australian Government lobbies the IAEA and the five declared nuclear weapons states under the NPT to make the safeguarding of all conversion facilities mandatory.” However the Australian Government rejected the recommendation in its 2009 response to the JSCT report.
- There is no resolution in sight to some of the most fundamental problems with safeguards such as countries invoking their right to pull out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and developing a weapons capability as North Korea has done. More generally, responses to suspected non-compliance with safeguards agreements have been highly variable, ranging from inaction to economic sanctions to UN Security Council-mandated decommissioning programmes. Some states prefer to take matters into their own hands: Israel bombed and destroyed a nuclear reactor in Iraq in 1981, the US bombed and destroyed a reactor in Iraq in 1991 and Israel bombed and destroyed a suspected reactor site in Syria in 2007.
In 1982, Mike Rann identified the core problem: “Again and again, it has been demonstrated here and overseas that when problems over safeguards prove difficult, commercial considerations will come first.”
 For information on safeguards see the papers listed at https://nuclear.foe.org.au/links/#safeguards
 See section 6 in: ‘The Nuclear Safeguards System: An Illusion of Protection‘, 2010.
 Mohamed El Baradei, 16 June 2009, ‘Director General’s Intervention on Budget at IAEA Board of Governors’, www.iaea.org/newscenter/statements/director-generals-intervention-budget-iaea-board-governors
 See section 4 in: ‘The Nuclear Safeguards System: An Illusion of Protection‘, 2010.
 IAEA, 1993, Against the Spread of Nuclear Weapons: IAEA Safeguards in the 1990s.
 Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, 2008, ‘Report 94: Review into Treaties tabled on 14 May 2008’, www.aph.gov.au/parliamentary_business/committees/house_of_representatives_committees?url=jsct/14may2008/report1/fullreport.pdf
 Australian Government, 2009, ‘Government Response to Report 94 of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties: Australia-Russia Nuclear Cooperation Agreement’
 Mike Rann, March 1982, ‘Uranium: Play It Safe’.