Nuclear Materials Verification (Safeguards)
The verification approaches and measures utilized by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to verify that nuclear material is not diverted from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices in accordance with Non-Proliferation Treaty commitments are commonly referred to as 'safeguards'.
In 1972, Canada was the first country to bring into force a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the IAEA pursuant to the NPT. The safeguards agreement gives the IAEA the right and obligation to monitor Canada's nuclear related activities and verify nuclear material inventories and flows in Canada. In 2000, as part of worldwide efforts to strengthen IAEA safeguards, Canada brought into force an Additional Protocol to its safeguards agreement with the IAEA. The Additional Protocol gives the IAEA enhanced rights of access to nuclear sites and other locations and provides it with access to information about nuclear-related activities in Canada above and beyond its rights under the original safeguards agreement.
CNSC is responsible for implementing the Canada/IAEA safeguards agreement and the Additional Protocol. Through the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, regulations and licences, CNSC implements regulatory controls for the production, use, storage and movement of nuclear material in Canada. Conditions for the application of IAEA safeguards are contained in nuclear facility operating licences. Through its regulatory process, CNSC ensures that all relevant licensees have in place safeguards policies and procedures that include:
- the reporting and monitoring of nuclear material and activities; and
- the provision of IAEA safeguards inspector access to nuclear facilities.
CNSC performs compliance and auditing activities to ensure licensees' safeguards policies and procedures remain sufficient to meet the safeguards requirements of the agreement and Additional Protocol. CNSC maintains a national system that accounts for and controls nuclear materials in Canada, and supplies reports to the IAEA which serve as a basis for IAEA inspection and monitoring activities.
CNSC also cooperates with the IAEA in developing new safeguards approaches for Canadian facilities and contributes to efforts to strengthen safeguards internationally. As part of this effort, CNSC, through its Safeguards Support Program, assists the IAEA in developing advanced safeguards equipment or techniques aimed at strengthening the effectiveness and efficiency of safeguards implementation. The Program also supports domestic needs in resolving specific safeguards issues related to Canadian nuclear facilities and the use of nuclear material.