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. Additionally, the NRC supports U.S. Government negotiations with the IAEA and interactions between the IAEA and NRC-licensed facilities. The NRC also leads and participates in interagency groups of the U.S. government on safeguards technical and policy areas.

More than 250 NRC-licensed facilities are made eligible for IAEA selection for implementing safeguards on a routine basis. Historically, the IAEA has implemented and subsequently withdrawn traditional safeguards at several facilities under the US-IAEA Safeguards Agreement. Thirteen NRC licensed facilities were selected and inspected at various times between 1980 and 2005, including 6 commercial power reactors, 5 low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel fabrication facilities, and two high-enriched uranium (HEU) down-blending projects. Four NRC-licensed facilities are currently selected by the IAEA under the U.S. Reporting Protocol for nuclear material flow and inventory reporting. These 4 facilities are required to submit a completed IAEA design information questionnaire to the NRC and to update the information as required. In addition, the NRC receives, reviews, and submits declarations with respect to the U.S. Additional Protocol. Since the Additional Protocol entered into force in 2009, NRC has submitted several hundred 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 has the responsibility to effectively represent 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). An important perspective that NRC brings to international safeguards is its experience in 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.

In addition to treaty implementation, the NRC provides technical assistance as part of U.S. Government initiatives to strengthen international safeguards and verification programs. Through U.S. Government interagency 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.

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