Examining the Future of IAEA Containment and Surveillance

Tom Gray - Pacific Northwest National Lab
Jake Benz - Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Kelly Jenkins - Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Matt MacDougall - Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Carolyn Matthews - Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Ty Otto - PNNL
Heidi Smartt - Sandia National Laboratory
Taissa Sobolev - Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Ben Wilson - Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is continuously strengthening and improving the safeguards measures it employs to incorporate the newest technological advances and meet the evolving challenges it faces. Historically, containment and surveillance (C/S) has been seen as an important “complementary measure” that the IAEA uses in conjunction with nuclear material accountancy (NMA) to maintain the Continuity of Knowledge of previously measured materials. In recent decades, technological improvements and changing IAEA verification needs have led to growing agreement that future IAEA safeguards approaches will have a greater reliance on information, like C/S, that goes beyond traditional NMA and verification techniques. Moreover, the development of State Level Approaches for individual Member States has acted as a catalyst for change in how IAEA safeguards measures are applied. However, in 2021, the global Covid-19 pandemic forced the world, and the IAEA, to fully realize the importance of C/S as a safeguards measure, as it shifted many of its operations virtual and used “compensatory measures such as remote monitoring to maintain continuity of knowledge and minimize the future impact of any delayed activities.” While its uncertain what lasting impacts the pandemic will have on IAEA safeguards implementation, it served to demonstrate how far the IAEA’s use of C/S has evolved and its future potential. This report will examine how the IAEA’s use of C/S has grown over the years, and how key changes in the nuclear landscape are likely to continue increasing the IAEA’s reliance on C/S measures to support and complement its verification activities in the future. From there, the report will consider future trends in the use of IAEA C/S with the objective of identifying research and development priorities for the IAEA and other safeguards practitioners interested in future C/S technologies.