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International Atomic Energy Agency: Personal Reflections


24 cm; 311 pp.)

The reflections are written by a group of distinguished scientists and diplomats who were involved in the establishment or subsequent work of the IAEA. It represents a collection of

‘essays’ which offer a complementary and personal view on some of the topics considered in the full history.

ISBN 92–0–102397–9











The First Forty Years by

David Fischer

A fortieth anniversary publication

IAEA_History.qxd 10.01.2003 11:01 Uhr Seite 2

The ‘temporary’ headquarters of the IAEA in the Grand Hotel, on the Ringstrasse in central Vienna.

The Agency remained there for some twenty years, until 1979.

In 1979, the Austrian

Government and the City of Vienna completed construction of the Vienna

International Centre

(VIC), next to the

Donaupark, which became the permanent home of the IAEA and other UN organizations.

Austria generously made the buildings and facilities at the VIC available at the ‘peppercorn’ rent of one Austrian Schilling a year.

IAEA_History.qxd 10.01.2003 11:01 Uhr Seite 2

The ‘temporary’ headquarters of the IAEA in the Grand Hotel, on the Ringstrasse in central Vienna.

The Agency remained there for some twenty years, until 1979.

In 1979, the Austrian

Government and the City of Vienna completed construction of the Vienna

International Centre

(VIC), next to the

Donaupark, which became the permanent home of the IAEA and other UN organizations.

Austria generously made the buildings and facilities at the VIC available at the ‘peppercorn’ rent of one Austrian Schilling a year.




T h e F i r s t F o r t y Y e a r s




T h e F i r s t F o r t y Y e a r s b y

D a v i d F i s c h e r

VIC Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

Fischer, David.

History of the International Atomic Energy Agency : the first forty years / by David Fischer. — Vienna : The Agency, 1997.

p. ; 24 cm.

“A Fortieth Anniversary Publication.”

ISBN 92–0–102397–9

Includes bibliographical references.

1. International Atomic Energy Agency—History. I. International

Atomic Energy Agency.

VICL 92-00172

© IAEA 1997

Permission to reproduce or translate the information contained in this publication may be obtained by writing to:

Division of Publications

International Atomic Energy Agency

Wagramerstrasse 5

P.O. Box 100

A-1400 Vienna



ISBN 92–0–102397–9

Printed by the IAEA in Austria

September 1997


P R E F A C E b y t h e D i r e c t o r G e n e r a l o f t h e I A E A

T here is a rich literature about the United Nations which includes analyses of the Charter and different phases and aspects of the organization’s work. There are also many personal recollections by individuals which add to the general store of knowledge on the UN. Less has been written about the specialized organizations in the UN family. Yet many innovations in international co-operation first emerged in such organizations and a close study of their statutes and records is often rewarding for the student of international affairs. However, official documents do not tell the whole story. Accounts by persons closely connected with such organizations help us to understand better how they function. Lawrence Scheinman’s The International Atomic

Energy Agency and World Nuclear Order has so far been the only systematic

study of the IAEA. It was therefore felt that it would be a valuable and interesting contribution to the celebration of the fortieth anniversary of the

Agency to publish a history of the organization as seen by someone who was

“present at the creation” and has been involved in much of its life. Professor

William Potter, the Director of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the

Monterey Institute of International Studies, kindly agreed that the Institute would join the IAEA in sponsoring the project and sharing its cost.

The Institute commissioned Mr. David Fischer, who has been associated with the IAEA for more than forty years, to write the history of the Agency.

David Fischer took part in the negotiation of the IAEA’s Statute in 1954–1956 and served on the IAEA’s Preparatory Commission. From 1957 until 1981 he was the Agency’s Director and subsequently Assistant Director General for

External Relations. In 1981 and 1982 he was Special Adviser to Director

General Eklund and to myself. Since then he has served as a consultant to the

IAEA on many occasions.

David Fischer was greatly helped by an Editorial Advisory Committee comprising Mr. Munir Ahmed Khan (formerly Chairman of the Pakistan

Atomic Energy Commission and Chairman of the IAEA Board of Governors in 1986–1987), Professor Lawrence Scheinman (of the Monterey Institute of

International Studies and formerly Deputy Director of the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency) and Dr. Tadeusz Wojcik (Chairman of the Polish

Nuclear Society and former chef de cabinet of the Director General of the

IAEA). All three are closely related professionally, in different fields, to the


IAEA and served on the Advisory Committee in their personal capacities.

Ambassador Roland Timerbaev, for a long time Resident Representative of the USSR to the IAEA, also read the draft manuscript of the History and provided many invaluable insights.

However, this book does not purport to express the views of the

Advisory Committee or of the IAEA or its Member States. The responsibility for all statements is that of the author alone.

The philosopher George Santayana once wrote that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. That risk is particularly high in an international organization with a rapid turnover of staff and of the representatives of the States that frame its policies. To understand the present character of the IAEA and its future potential, it is essential to know how and why the IAEA has become what it is today. The dry terms of the IAEA’s

Statute and its records are not enough; the Agency has also been formed by experience, practice, style and tradition. It is hoped therefore that this book together with its companion piece — the reflections of persons who played a prominent part in the creation and development of the IAEA — will help to provide the needed historical perspective.

I would like to thank most warmly all those who have contributed the time and effort put into commemorating the Agency’s fortieth birthday. I would particularly like to thank Mr. Munir Khan, who first suggested the idea of the

History and the collection of essays.

H a n s B l i x





Chapter 1: Eisenhower Proposes a New Agency

Chapter 2: 1939–1953: The Dual Challenge of Nuclear Energy

Chapter 3: 1954–1956: Negotiation of the IAEA’s Statute

Chapter 4: 1957 — The Preparatory Commission and the First General Conference


Chapter 5: A Changing Political and Technical Environment

Chapter 6: The IAEA and Nuclear Power

Chapter 7: Nuclear Safety and the Management of Nuclear Waste

Chapter 8: Nuclear Safeguards

Chapter 9: The Transfer of Nuclear Technology to the Developing World

Chapter 10: The IAEA and the Applications of

Nuclear Techniques

(Radioisotopes and Radiation)

Chapter 11: The Exchange of Nuclear Information


Chapter 12: Issues

Chapter 13: Conclusions

Annex 1 — Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency

Annex 2 — Atoms for Peace

Annex 3 — Selected Statistical Data, 1958–1995


























T he IAEA is unlike any other specialized organization of the United

Nations family. Most of those agencies set out to achieve a broad economic or social aim: better health, better education, more and better food, economic progress and stability, preservation and enhancement of our natural and cultural heritage, safer travel and transport by sea or air.



IAEA’s fortunes are uniquely geared to those of a single, relatively new and controversial technology that can be used either as a weapon or as a practical and useful tool, that has almost infinite capacity to inflict harm but that also has an almost infinite potential to generate the energy on which the world will increasingly depend in the coming centuries to improve the conditions of life of its growing population. The IAEA was created in response to the deep fears and great expectations resulting from the discovery of nuclear energy, fears and expectations that have changed profoundly since 1945 and continue to fluctuate. As a result, what the IAEA is asked to do about nuclear energy, and indeed, what it can do and does, are much affected by the vicissitudes of national moods, international politics and technological change.

The IAEA’s history illustrates these points. Its genesis was President

Eisenhower’s address to the General Assembly of the United Nations on

8 December 1953, though many of the ideas he presented had earlier roots.

Diplomats and lawyers, advised by scientists, and drawing on the precedents set by other organizations, developed these ideas into a charter of an international agency, the IAEA Statute, which 81 nations unanimously approved in

October 1956.

In the years following Eisenhower’s speech and the approval of the

IAEA’s Statute the political and technical climate had changed so much that by 1958 it had become politically impracticable for the IAEA to begin work on some of the main tasks foreseen in its Statute. But in the aftermath of the 1962

Cuban missile crisis, the USA and the USSR began seeking common ground in nuclear arms control.


As more countries mastered nuclear technology, concern deepened that they would sooner or later acquire nuclear weapons, particularly since two additional nations had recently ‘joined the club’, France in 1960 and China in 1964. The safeguards prescribed in the IAEA’s Statute, designed chiefly to cover individual nuclear plants or supplies of fuel, were clearly inadequate to deter proliferation. There was growing support for international, legally binding, commitments and comprehensive safeguards to stop the further spread of nuclear weapons and to work towards their


I N T R O D U C T I O N eventual elimination. This found regional expression in 1967 in the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America (the Tlatelolco Treaty) and global expression, in 1968, in the approval of the Treaty on the Non-

Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), a treaty that Ireland had been the first nation formally to propose some ten years earlier.


The 1970s showed that the NPT would be accepted by almost all of the key industrial countries and by the vast majority of developing countries. At the same time the prospects for nuclear power improved dramatically. The technology had matured and was commercially available, and the oil crisis of

1973 enhanced the attraction of the nuclear energy option. The IAEA’s functions became distinctly more important. But the pendulum was soon to swing back. The first surge of worldwide enthusiasm for nuclear power lasted barely two decades. By the early 1980s, the demand for new nuclear power plants had declined sharply in most Western countries, and it shrank nearly to zero in these countries after the 1986 Chernobyl accident.

Paradoxically, when all was well with nuclear energy, the governments of countries that had advanced nuclear industries tended to keep the IAEA at a distance; when matters went badly they were ready to agree to a more extensive role for the organization. This was true on the two occasions when it became clear that IAEA safeguards had been violated and also after the two major accidents that have taken place in nuclear power plants. In 1991, the discovery of

Iraq’s clandestine weapon programme sowed doubts about the adequacy of

IAEA safeguards, but also led to steps to strengthen them, some of which were put to the test when the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) became the second country that was discovered violating its NPT safeguards agreement.

The Three Mile Island accident and especially the Chernobyl disaster persuaded governments to strengthen the IAEA’s role in enhancing nuclear safety.

In the early 1990s, the end of the Cold War and the consequent improvement in international security virtually eliminated the danger of a global nuclear conflict. Broad adherence to regional treaties underscored the nuclear weapon free status of Latin America, Africa and South East Asia, as well as the South Pacific. The threat of proliferation in some successor States of the former Soviet Union was averted; in Iraq and the DPRK the threat was contained. In 1995, the NPT was made permanent and in 1996 the UN General

Assembly approved and opened for signature a comprehensive test ban treaty. While military nuclear activities were beyond the IAEA’s statutory scope, it was now accepted that the Agency might properly deal with some of the problems bequeathed by the nuclear arms race — verification of the


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A peaceful use or storage of nuclear material from dismantled weapons and surplus military stocks of fissile material, determining the risks posed by the nuclear wastes of nuclear warships dumped in the Arctic, and verifying the safety of former nuclear test sites in Central Asia and the Pacific.

The world now has the best opportunity since 1945 not only of halting the spread of nuclear weapons, but also of drawing down and eventually eliminating nuclear arsenals. In other words, it now has the best prospects since the Second World War of realizing what were to become the two main aims of the NPT and of achieving the chief objectives implicit in Eisenhower’s proposals.


A p p r o a c h a n d s t r u c t u r e

The focus of this book is on the history of the IAEA as an organization.

This is inevitably linked with the evolution of nuclear technology.

Accordingly, the book sketches the fortunes of nuclear power since 1957, the main events that have affected confidence in nuclear safety and the evolution of nuclear arms control, insofar as this has affected IAEA safeguards.

The development of three of the Agency’s main programmes, nuclear power, nuclear safety and safeguards, has been largely shaped by events beyond the IAEA’s control, but their impact on the Agency has been determined, to a considerable degree, by the ways in which the Board of Governors and the Director General of the Agency have responded to them. Hence the effectiveness of the Board and the personality of the Director General have had a significant impact on the authority and effectiveness of the organization.


Another major part of the IAEA’s work has been to help transfer the practical applications of nuclear science to the developing world. In a relatively few cases this has involved nuclear power technology; far more commonly it has consisted of the transfer of the numerous and varied uses of radioisotopes and radiation — a broad stream of diverse and relatively small technical assistance projects, an activity seldom affected by turns in international politics, swings in national moods, a major nuclear accident or technological developments or fashions. The volume of such assistance has, however, been influenced by the flow of funds and the absorptive capacity of the receiving countries.

The book concludes with a brief discussion of some questions that the

IAEA may have to answer before it turns fifty. The selection of these questions and the conclusions reached are the author’s own.



A n o t e o f t h a n k s

On a personal note the author would like to thank the many members of the IAEA Secretariat as well as the Editorial Advisory Committee who helped him to write this History. He is especially indebted to Paulo Barretto,

Murdoch Baxter, Alfredo Cuaron, Pier Danesi, James Dargie, Michael Davies,

Stein Deron, Alexandra Diesner-Küpfer, Steven Flitton, Nadine Flouret, Klaus

Fröhlich, William C. Gerken, Ingrid Holzberger, Rich Hooper, John Hyland,

Odette Jankowitsch, Gertrud Leitner, Gopinathan Nair, Gertrude Nemeth,

Robert Parr, Bruno Pellaud, Dimitri Perricos, Jihui Qian, John Rames,

Ghandikota V. Ramesh, Laura Rockwood, Ursula Schneider, Boris Semenov,

Kelly Stephens and Claudio Todeschini. Special mention must be made of the invaluable detailed comments on the various drafts by Mohamed ElBaradei,

Ray Kelleher, David Kyd, Muttusamy Sanmuganathan, John Tilemann and

Maurizio Zifferero. Finally, thanks to Hans Blix himself, who took a personal interest in the undertaking, and to Bill Potter, Tariq Rauf and Chris Fitz of the

Monterey Institute of International Studies who cast a benevolent eye on it from afar. The author is also greatly indebted to Paul Szasz, who reviewed the entire manuscript, to Allan Labowitz, who reviewed and edited most of it, to

Myron Kratzer for his trenchant comments on IAEA safeguards and to Astrid

Forland of the Bergen Center for the Study of the Sciences and Humanities for her knowledge of the early history of the IAEA. The errors and omissions are the author’s own.






The safety functions of ICAO (the International Civil Aviation Organization) and

IMO (the International Maritime Organization) are comparable to those of the IAEA but, unlike the latter, they are not confined to an activity based on a single form of energy.

They first found such common ground in the Limited Test Ban Treaty of 1963.

In a resolution submitted to the General Assembly on 17 October 1958.

The diminishing threat of nuclear weapons since the dark days of the Cold War has been well summed up by the American author Richard Rhodes: “The world will not soon be free of nuclear weapons, because they serve so many purposes. But as instruments of destruction, they have long been obsolete.” RHODES, R., Dark Sun: The

Making of the Hydrogen Bomb, Simon and Schuster, New York (1995) 588.




A more profound impact than that which is usually left by the chief administrative officer in a national ministry. This is equally true of other agencies of the United

Nations and, in particular, the United Nations itself, where the personality of the Secretary General has played a crucial role in promoting the organization’s successes and in causing its failures.







C h a p t e r 1


O n 8 December 1953, the President of the United States of America,

Dwight D. Eisenhower, proposed at the General Assembly of the

United Nations the creation of an organization to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy and to seek to ensure that nuclear energy would not serve any military purpose.


Eisenhower’s proposals led to the creation of the

IAEA and helped to shape international co-operation in the civilian use of nuclear energy up to 1978, when a far reaching change in American nuclear law signalled the end of Eisenhower’s programme of “Atoms for Peace”.

Eisenhower began with a bleak warning. Hydrogen weapons were several hundred times more powerful than the bombs that had destroyed

Hiroshima and Nagasaki “but the dread secret [of making the (atom) bomb] is not ours alone.” The secret was shared by the United Kingdom, Canada and the Soviet Union and would eventually be shared by others. He tried to reassure the Soviet Union: “We hope that this coming [four power] conference may initiate a relationship with the Soviet Union which will eventually bring about a free intermingling of the peoples of the East and of the West...”


And he went on to declare that “the peaceful power of atomic energy is no dream of the future”; its benefits were already at hand.

The centrepiece of Eisenhower’s proposal was the creation of an international atomic energy agency “to which the governments principally involved would make joint contributions” from their stockpiles of fissile material and natural uranium. The USA would seek more than the mere reduction or elimination of atomic materials for military purposes. “It is not enough to take this weapon out of the hands of the soldiers. It must be put into the hands of those who will know [...] how to adapt it to the arts of peace.” The proposed agency would be responsible for the impounding, storage and protection of this bank of fissile and other materials. It would devise methods whereby nuclear materials “could be allocated to serve the peaceful purposes of mankind.” Eisenhower made it clear that he wanted the new agency to avoid the fate of the ambitious Baruch Plan of 1946 that had foundered on the shoals of the Cold War. His proposal, he said, “had the great virtue that it can be undertaken without the irritations and mutual suspicions incident to any attempt to set up a completely acceptable system for worldwide


P A R T I — C H A P T E R 1 inspection and control.” Nonetheless his aim was nuclear disarmament, to banish the fear that “...the two atomic colossi... [would be] ...doomed malevolently to eye each other indefinitely across a trembling world...” He stressed that the nuclear disarmament his plan would bring about would be very gradual; in his bleaker moments he thought that the USA might have to retain its military might for forty years.


Eisenhower’s vision has been warmly praised and sharply criticized.

The central element of his plan came to nothing — the concept that the IAEA would serve as a bank of nuclear materials drawing down US and Soviet stocks below the level where either could launch a knock-out blow against the other. For nearly forty years after its birth in 1957 the IAEA remained essentially irrelevant to the nuclear arms race. But the end of the Cold War has revived the idea of placing military stocks of fissile materials, including material from dismantled nuclear weapons, under the IAEA’s surveillance, thus creating confidence that it will not revert to military use.


Eisenhower gave a powerful impetus to the change that was beginning to take place in American and global nuclear policies; the change from a policy of secrecy and denial to one of openness — transparency — and to international co-operation in developing and applying nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, i.e. “Atoms for Peace”.

It is precisely this concept that has attracted the most criticism. A well known British observer wrote in 1966 that “only a social psychologist could hope to explain why the possessors of the most terrible weapons in history should have sought to spread the necessary industry to produce them in the belief that this could make the world safer.”


The late Gerard Smith wrote that

Molotov’s first reactions were similarly sceptical.


And opponents of nuclear power have been even more critical of the underlying rationale of “Atoms for


But the failure of previous attempts to prevent the spread of nuclear technology — indeed the history of science and of military invention — had already shown that, while the spread of the new nuclear technology might be slowed down, it could not be stopped. The issue was whether the USA should try to plug the now leaky dyke that had been built hastily by the US Congress in the

McMahon Act of 1946, or whether it would take the lead in ensuring that the inevitable spread of nuclear technology would be subject to controls to ensure that it was used for peaceful purposes only, and as safely as possible. Apart from the USA, no other nation showed any interest in taking this lead, in fact for several years many nations in Europe and elsewhere resisted international


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A controls and some were more interested in getting hold of the bomb than in preventing its dissemination.

In the long run, neither US attempts to preserve the nuclear monopoly, nor the controls that the supplying nations placed (much later) on their nuclear exports, would be decisive in determining whether nations used nuclear energy for military in addition to peaceful ends. The determining factor would be the security needs and perceptions of the growing number of nations that became technically equipped to make that choice. For most, the eventual choice was confirmed in the 1995 decision to extend indefinitely, in other words to make permanent, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear

Weapons (NPT).

A more practical charge can be laid against the idea that nuclear disarmament could be achieved by siphoning off stocks of fissile material. The concept was essentially a ‘technical fix’. Until the USA and USSR had taken a conscious political decision to shrink their nuclear arsenals, no technical fix could compel them to do so. No inducement would persuade the Soviet Union to make a significant cut in its still scarce and precious stock of fissile material.

This was soon demonstrated by the wildly asymmetrical commitments that the three nuclear weapon States made to place fissile material at the disposal of the IAEA. The USA pledged 5000 kg of contained uranium-235 and whatever amount would be needed to match the other States’ contributions; the

United Kingdom pledged 20 kg of uranium-235 and the USSR 50 kg.


Moreover, within a decade, scarcity of high enriched uranium would cease to be a major factor in constraining the nuclear arms race.

The world would have to wait until the end of the Cold War for the first decision to shrink nuclear arsenals. In the meantime the reverse was happening.

Under Eisenhower’s Presidency the US nuclear arsenal grew from 1200 warheads in 1952 to 18 700 in 1960; the Soviet arsenal grew from 50 to 1700. And in 1953–1954, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles enunciated the policy of

“massive retaliation”, in other words the USA would use its growing nuclear arsenal to counter any attack on its allies as well as the USA itself, even an attack by ‘conventional’ weapons.


Eisenhower was also unduly optimistic about the imminent use of nuclear power and consequently about the civilian demand for fissile material.

He maintained that: “The United States knows that peaceful power from atomic energy is no dream of the future. That capability, already proved, is here-now-today.” In fact, the realization of “that capability” had to wait until the 1960s. Eisenhower was equally if not more sanguine about the prospects for


P A R T I — C H A P T E R 1 other applications of nuclear technology. At the Centennial Commencement of

Pennsylvania State University on 11 June 1955, he said: “Many engineers and scientists believe that radiation and radioactive isotopes may provide even greater peacetime benefits [than nuclear power].”


But in another way Eisenhower’s initiative led to one of his principal achievements.


In the early 1960s stopping the spread of nuclear weapons became a common cause of the USA and the USSR. The two leading powers forged bonds of mutual interest that remained undamaged by subsequent crises and that may have played a part in restoring relations between them as the Cold War neared its end. After 1963, US–Soviet co-operation succeeded in keeping the hostile rhetoric and sterile disputes of the Cold War out of the meeting rooms of the IAEA and enhanced the effectiveness of its Board of

Governors and Secretariat.








The text of Eisenhower’s address is given in Public Papers of the Presidents,

Eisenhower (1953) 813–822; and in Atoms for Peace: An Analysis After Thirty Years

(PILAT, J.F., PENDLEY, R.E., EBINGER, C.K., Eds), Westview Press, Boulder, CO

(1985) Appendix C, pp. 283–291.

The “coming conference” appears to be a reference to a forthcoming meeting between the USA, the United Kingdom, France and the USSR.

SOKOLSKI, H., “Eisenhower’s original Atoms for Peace plan: The arms control connection”, presented on 6 July 1983 at a seminar sponsored by the Woodrow

Wilson Center’s International Security Studies Program, Washington, DC, and published by the Center as Occasional Paper No. 52, p. 18.

The USA has begun to place some fissile material surplus to its military needs under IAEA supervision to verify that it does not revert to nuclear weapon use and

Russia has agreed eventually to do the same.

BEATON, L., Must the Bomb Spread?, Penguin Books, Baltimore (1966) 88–89.

FISCHER, D.A.V., Stopping the Spread of Nuclear Weapons, Routledge, London and

New York (1993) 41; and STOESSINGER, J.G., Atoms for Peace: The International

Atomic Energy Agency”, Organizing for Peace in the Nuclear Age, Report of the

Commission to Study the Organization of Peace, New York University Press, New

York (1959) 120.







The USA did not specify the level of enrichment of the uranium but it was assumed that most of it would be in low enriched form. However, in certain cases the USA was to supply high enriched uranium; for instance, the fuel it supplied to South

Africa for the SAFARI materials testing reactor was 90% enriched. The Soviet Union supplied its clients with only low enriched uranium.

HEWLETT, R.G., HOLL, J.M., Atoms for Peace and War: 1953–1961, Eisenhower and the

Atomic Energy Commission, University of California Press, Berkeley, CA (1989) 272.

EISENHOWER, D.D., Public Papers of the Presidents, 121, p. 594.

SCHLESINGER, J.R., “Atoms for peace revisited”, PILAT, J.F., et al., Eds, Atoms for

Peace: An Analysis After Thirty Years, p. 7.



C h a p t e r 2

1 9 3 9 – 1 9 5 3 : T H E D U A L C H A L L E N G E


T h e i n v e n t i o n a n d u s e o f t h e b o m b

F rom the very beginning, the development of nuclear energy in all its facets has been truly international, emerging from widely scattered research laboratories, as the ideas and work of scientists in one country stimulated and fertilized the minds of their colleagues in others.

In the 1920s and 1930s the leading physicists and chemists of Europe and the USA were gradually unravelling the structure of the elements and the dynamics of their nuclei and of subatomic particles. On 6 January 1939, the

German chemists Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassman reported in the journal

Naturwissenschaften that they had bombarded and split the uranium atom into two or more lighter elements. They had discovered a new type of nuclear reaction — fission.


Their Austrian colleague, the physicist Lise Meitner, had noted that fission of the uranium nucleus would release energy — the energy that binds the nucleus together — potentially on a vast scale and she and her nephew, Otto Frisch, soon confirmed this experimentally.


A few weeks later the Hungarian physicist Leo Szilard, working in New York, showed that in the uranium fission process “about two” neutrons were emitted whenever a neutron released by this process collided with the nucleus of another uranium

(uranium-235) atom. A self-sustaining fission reaction was possible.


In May

1939, Jean and Irène Joliot-Curie, the Austro-Hungarian scientist Hans Halban and the Polish scientist Leo Kowarski, refugees in France, repeated Szilard’s experiment and took out patents for the production of nuclear energy as well as nuclear explosives.


Both the potential applications of nuclear energy, military and civilian, were beginning to unfold at the same time.

Colleagues who heard the news of the splitting of the uranium atom and the energy it released were quick to grasp its implications for peace — and especially for war if Nazi Germany were able to master these processes and deploy a nuclear weapon. Like many other Jewish scientists, Albert Einstein had emigrated to the USA to escape Hitler’s clutches. On 2 August 1939, at the urging of Szilard and his fellow Hungarian Edward Teller, Einstein wrote to warn President Roosevelt that Germany was trying to produce enriched


P A R T I — C H A P T E R 2 uranium, and urged him to make sure that the USA could arm itself with nuclear weapons before Nazi Germany did so.


Roosevelt took heed. He set in motion what eventually became the Manhattan Project,

6 the vast US undertaking that led to the making of the atomic bomb. British scientists, helped by refugees from Hitler, had been ahead of the USA on the path to the bomb in

1940 and 1941, and they made a decisive contribution to an enterprise that changed the world.

Another element, plutonium, was to prove as vastly powerful as enriched uranium when used as a nuclear explosive or a source of energy (in fact more powerful, weight for weight). Except as a man-made element, plutonium essentially does not exist on earth. In late 1940, Glenn Seaborg and his colleagues at the University of California produced a trace of one of its isotopic forms. Seaborg named the new element after the sun’s outermost planet, Pluto, the ancient Greek God of the underworld, but also the Greek God of wealth.


On 2 December 1942, two years after Glenn Seaborg’s discovery, the

Italian physicist Enrico Fermi achieved criticality in the world’s first nuclear

‘pile’ or reactor which his team had built beneath the football stadium of the

University of Chicago. Fermi was a refugee from the other European Fascist dictator, Mussolini. Fermi’s success marked the first man-made self-sustaining fission reaction and the first artificial production of a significant amount of plutonium. After Fermi had finished his experiment his colleague, Arthur

Compton, telephoned James Conant, the President of Harvard University:

“Jim...the Italian navigator has just landed in the new world.”


The first glimpse that the Old World saw of this new world was in August 1945 when the bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

On 3 July 1944, Niels Bohr sent a memorandum to the ailing President

Roosevelt urging that the USA and the United Kingdom should take the

USSR into their confidence about the progress they were making towards the manufacture of a nuclear weapon. The idea was rejected, particularly sharply by Winston Churchill, who recommended that steps be taken to ensure that

Bohr passed no information on to Moscow.


In June 1945, with Germany defeated, a group of prominent physicists from the Manhattan Project appealed in vain for an international demonstration of the power of the bomb before it was used as a weapon (against Japan) and pressed for an international agreement or agency to prevent its further use. The alternative would be “an unlimited armaments race”. The group was chaired by James Franck, yet another refugee from Hitler, and it included

Szilard and Seaborg.




The United Nations Charter, signed in San Francisco on 26 June 1945, was the last great international treaty whose negotiators, except perhaps for a select few, were totally ignorant about the nuclear threat just below the horizon. Less than three weeks later, at Alamogordo, New Mexico, on 16 July 1945, Robert

Oppenheimer and his team looked on in awe at the first man-made nuclear explosion. The news from Alamogordo reached US President Truman during the Potsdam summit meeting with Stalin and British Prime Minister Clement

Attlee. Truman told Stalin that the USA now had a new weapon of unusual destructive force. Stalin appeared unimpressed. One report maintains that he made no comment, another that he said he was glad to hear the news and hoped the USA “would make good use of it against the Japanese.” However, when he heard about the destruction of Hiroshima he is reported to have been greatly shaken, and on 20 August 1945 appointed Lavrenti Beria (chief of the NKVD — the Soviet secret police) to take charge of the Soviet bomb programme and spurred his own team of nuclear scientists to catch up with the USA at all costs.


On 6 August 1945, six weeks after the Charter was signed, the world heard the news of the bombing of Hiroshima. In a violent flash ‘Little Boy’ released the equivalent of 10 000 tons (10 kilotons) of TNT and obliterated the city; 140 000 of its citizens died by year’s end and 200 000 within five years.

The bomb used high enriched uranium as its explosive charge and was of the gun-barrel or gun-assembly type. Its designers were so confident that it would work “first time” that it had not been tested before its use.


Three days later a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki; 70 000 of the inhabitants of what became known as the ‘city of the dead’ were killed in the blast or died before the year ended, and 70 000 more died in the next five years.


The bomb used plutonium as its charge, and its design was based on the device tested at Alamogordo.


More than three months earlier, on 25 April 1945, Secretary of War

Henry Stimson had briefed a still unwitting President Truman about the

Manhattan Project. Stimson wrote that the control of the atomic bomb “will undoubtedly be a matter of the greatest difficulty and would involve such thoroughgoing rights of inspection and internal controls as we have never heretofore contemplated” and that “the question of sharing it with other nations...becomes a primary question of our foreign relations.”


On 12 September 1945, Stimson recommended to President Truman that the USA directly approach the USSR to conclude a covenant “to control and limit the use of the atomic bomb as an instrument of war direct and encourage the development of atomic power for peaceful and humanitarian


P A R T I — C H A P T E R 2 purposes...” US relations with the Soviet Union “may be perhaps irretrievably embittered by the way in which we approach the solution of the bomb with Russia. For if we fail to approach them now and merely continue to negotiate with them, having this weapon rather ostentatiously on our hip, their suspicions and their distrust of our purposes and motives will increase.”

Such an approach to the Soviets might be backed by the United Kingdom, but it should be “peculiarly the proposal of the United States. Action by any international group of nations...would not, in my opinion, be taken seriously by the Soviets.” Unless such an approach was made there would “ effect be a secret armament race of a rather desperate character.”

Stimson’s advice, repeated on the day he left office (21 September 1945), was not taken.


For the third time what might have been an opportunity to avoid a post-war nuclear arms race was missed. But one may question whether the inveterately suspicious Stalin would have grasped the hand that

Bohr, Franck and Stimson wanted the USA to extend to him.

On 15 November 1945, President Truman and Prime Ministers Attlee of the United Kingdom and Mackenzie King of Canada, meeting in Washington, issued a “Three Nation Agreed Declaration on Atomic Energy” in which they said that they would be willing “to proceed with the exchange of fundamental scientific literature for peaceful ends with any nation that will fully reciprocate” but only when “it is possible to devise effective reciprocal and enforceable safeguards acceptable to all nations” against its use for destructive purposes.


They suggested that the new-born United Nations should promptly tackle the nuclear issue. Soon afterwards, on 27 December 1945, at a meeting in Moscow of the Council of Foreign Ministers, the USA and the United Kingdom proposed and the USSR agreed that a United Nations Atomic Energy Commission

(UNAEC) should be created “to consider problems arising from the discovery of atomic energy and related matters.”


The Soviets made it clear that the work of the UNAEC must be subject to the direction of the Security Council, with its veto rights, and the USA and the United Kingdom accepted this condition.


T h e s e a r c h f o r e f f e c t i v e c o n t r o l s

In January 1946, by the first resolution of the first session of the General

Assembly, the UNAEC was launched on its brief and barren career.



1945 until 1948, when the UNAEC concluded that its work had ceased to be meaningful,

21 the proclaimed aim of the USA and the USSR and their allies


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A was not to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons but to do away with them altogether.

At the turn of the year Secretary of State James Byrnes had appointed a committee under the chairmanship of Dean Acheson and David Lilienthal to draw up proposals for the abolition of nuclear weapons and for controlling the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.


The report, published in March 1946,

23 examined virtually every problem that would arise in applying such control.

One of its most radical conclusions — which was in conflict with what was later to be a fundamental premise of the NPT — was that “a system of inspection superimposed on an otherwise uncontrolled exploitation of atomic energy by

national governments will not be an adequate safeguard” (emphasis in original).

Hence an international authority should be created to own or “control and operate” all nuclear activities that lead to the production of fissile material, including all reactors except those that are “non-dangerous”.


The authority would license and inspect all other nuclear activities and foster beneficial nuclear uses and research. When the authority was operating effectively the

USA would stop making nuclear weapons, destroy those it had and give the authority full information about the production of nuclear energy.

On 13 June 1946, Bernard Baruch presented to the UNAEC the plan that bears his name.


It proposed the creation of an International Atomic

Development Authority (IADA) that would be entrusted with “managerial control or ownership of all atomic energy activities potentially dangerous to world security.” One of its first tasks would be “to obtain and maintain complete and accurate information on world sources of uranium and thorium and to bring them under its dominion.”

Baruch made an important addition to the conclusions of Acheson and

Lilienthal. He was particularly concerned about the problem of enforcing

IADA’s decisions, the problem of “penalization” as he put it, and he insisted that IADA should be able to impose sanctions or “condign punishments” and that its decisions should not be subject to the veto of any power.


The Baruch Plan would thus have entailed a massive transfer of power to an international body, a transfer that Stalin and, indeed, the rulers of many other countries would never have accepted. The proposed elimination of the veto right was particularly objectionable. In Soviet eyes great power consensus — agreement between the “four policemen”

27 who were henceforth supposed to keep order in the world — was imperative. But in any case the Soviet

Government was doing its utmost to get its own nuclear arsenal as quickly as possible.


A few days after the US bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,


P A R T I — C H A P T E R 2

Stalin formally decided to launch his own Manhattan Project. He had no intention of abandoning the field and allowing the USA to keep its weapons pending the effective operation of an agency that would be radically different in scope and authority from any international body yet dreamt of by the most visionary political thinkers and in which the West would probably have the leading role.

On the US side there were also some, including Robert Oppenheimer, who were deeply distrustful of Baruch and his proposals, which they considered unrealistic.


On 19 June 1946, Andrei Gromyko gave the Soviet reaction. Instead of the

Baruch approach of ‘control before disarmament’ the Soviets proposed the reverse sequence — first the conclusion of an international convention, binding on all nations, that would outlaw the use and manufacture of nuclear weapons and require that all those in existence be destroyed within three months of the convention’s entry into force. Only then should the UNAEC turn to the organization of controls to prevent the production of nuclear weapons.


On 11 June 1947, the Soviet Union proposed a system of reporting and inspection of national nuclear programmes not unlike that accepted 20 years later in the NPT — with the important exception that the Soviet proposal would have applied to the nuclear activities of the USA and the USSR.



USA and its allies found the proposed controls inadequate and rejected the proposal.

After 200 sessions and more than two years of sterile debate, UNAEC concluded its work at the end of 1949.

T h e a l t e r n a t i v e — p r e s e r v e t h e U S m o n o p o l y

Access to uranium would determine whether or not a nation could acquire nuclear weapons. Known uranium deposits were still few and limited, and the element was in extremely short supply. In October 1946, a US delegate at the UNAEC talks suggested to Secretary of State Byrnes that “the US and its allies form a group that will control atomic energy through the possession of such an overwhelming proportion of the raw materials that those nations left without the circle must pay the price of admission“


— i.e. they must renounce nuclear weapons. The group was formed — the Joint Development Agency comprising the USA, the United Kingdom and Canada — and it sought to corner the market by arranging to buy all the uranium that Belgium was


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A producing in the Congo and all that South Africa and Australia would later produce, as well as US and Canadian production.


For several years the agency succeeded in buying almost all the uranium mined outside the Soviet

Bloc, but in 1963 South Africa broke ranks and angered Washington by concluding a multi-year contract with France on the same conditions as its sales to the other two nuclear weapon States (i.e. without safeguards) for an amount of yellow cake equal to two thirds of France’s annual production at that time and at a third of the price quoted by Canada during an earlier negotiation — aborted because Canada insisted on safeguards.


At the end of July 1946, the US Congress adopted the McMahon Act

(AEA/46) after six months of spirited debate. A version had already been approved in early June before Baruch presented his plan to the UNAEC. The

Act was designed to maintain the US monopoly by stipulating, for instance, that until there were effective safeguards “there shall be no exchange of information with other nations with respect to the use of atomic energy for industrial [i.e. peaceful] purposes.”


It has been pointed out that by this action, even while the UNAEC was debating the Baruch Plan, the US Congress was thus making “...virtually impossible any early surrender of atomic weapons to international control without further legislation.”


In 1945 only one country had the massive industrial infrastructure, the wealth, the material and the concentration of scientific expertise from Europe as well as the USA that would be needed to make nuclear weapons. North

America was also beyond the reach of enemy bombers and safe from invasion. These unique advantages were bound to erode with time and other nations soon began to move into the nuclear era.

In September 1949, the Soviets carried out their first nuclear test.


The timing came as a shock to many US officials, including General Leslie R.

Groves, the driving force behind the Manhattan Project. They had assumed that it would take as much as 20 years for the Soviets to become the world’s second nuclear armed State.


The United Kingdom became the third in October 1952.

Once the main scientific and technical breakthrough to a nuclear device had been made and had become public property, replicating such a device would be largely a matter of engineering. Hence, technical fixes to prevent proliferation would not work in the long term. Today, the technical ability to make a simple nuclear device is within the reach of 40 to 50 nations and the number of technically capable nations is bound to grow. The considerations that persuade most of these States to forego nuclear weapons are political, not


P A R T I — C H A P T E R 2 technical; some of these States are, for instance, protected by alliances that extend nuclear umbrellas (though the need for these has diminished with the end of the Cold War) and for some of them it might be more dangerous to acquire than to renounce nuclear weapons.



The end of the US nuclear monopoly, the hardening deadlock at the and the growing tensions of the Cold War gradually extinguished all hope of a world free of nuclear weapons — if not forever, then at least for the remainder of this century.


The sign that marks the entrance to Dante’s

Inferno, “lasciate ogni speranza, voi che entrate“ seemed increasingly appropriate for an ingenious species of primate opening the gate to a nuclear arms race. Yet, Eisenhower was determined to offer a way out of this apparently hopeless situation.

In January 1953, Eisenhower had succeeded Truman and on 5 March 1953

Stalin died. By now the US monopoly in the civilian as well as the military use of nuclear technology was eroding and US corporations were beginning to fear the loss of markets to the British and the Canadians.


US policy makers and their allies had also concluded that it was idle to continue to talk about nuclear disarmament. They had come up against the wall of secrecy surrounding all Soviet military matters and, in particular, its nuclear activities (and had sought, though in the end unsuccessfully, to build an equally impenetrable wall of their own in the draconian McMahon Act of August 1946). It now seemed too late to verify with adequate assurance that neither the USA nor the Soviet Union had accumulated a secret stock of nuclear weapons or of fissile material. In short, it was clear that neither the visionary approach of the Acheson–Lilienthal plan nor the McMahon policy of denial was going to work. However, there were now new men at the helm in both nations, and Eisenhower wanted to find a way out of the nuclear deadlock. To the newly appointed Chairman of the US Atomic

Energy Commission, Lewis Strauss, he said: “My chief to find some new approach to the disarming of atomic energy... The world simply must not go on living in the fear of the terrible consequences of nuclear war.”


In April 1952, Secretary of State Acheson had appointed a ‘Panel of

Consultants on Disarmament’ under the chairmanship of Robert Oppenheimer to make recommendations about US nuclear policy; in particular, what the US Government should tell the country and the world at large about the incipient nuclear arms race and the dangers it would bring. The panel’s recommendations became known as the ‘Candor Report’ or ‘Operation

Candor’. The report dwelt at length on the fear that the USSR might soon have enough nuclear weapons and bombers to destroy 100 key urban industrial


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A targets — the US industrial base — and thus win World War III. These fears mounted after 12 August 1953 when the USSR detonated what the USA believed to be a hydrogen bomb.


All that the USA could do to fend off disaster would be to threaten retaliation.

The panel urged the President to take the American people fully into his confidence. He should disclose US fissile material production and assessments of Soviet strength so that neither side would misjudge the situation and be tempted to launch a preventive war. The two powers should agree to limit their arsenals and bomber fleets so that neither need “fear a sudden knockout blow from the other.”


Eisenhower charged his chief speech writer,

C.D. Jackson, to present the gist of the panel’s report but Jackson’s first drafts offered only a bleak picture of the Soviet nuclear threat and of atomic catastrophe. It seemed essential to hold out a more hopeful prospect.

It was not only growing fear of the Soviet nuclear arsenal and of nuclear war that changed US nuclear policy. Within the USA itself there was now a vigorous debate about the merits of private versus public ownership, of the need for freedom of research and communications between scientists, and also of ‘small’ versus ‘big’ government. The move towards privatization of the civilian uses of nuclear energy, eventually enshrined in the 1954 Atomic

Energy Act, was gaining momentum.

It appears that in September 1953 Eisenhower came upon the idea that was to become the kernel of the 8 December speech, that of drawing the fissile materials of the nuclear weapon States into a common pool to be used by all nations for peaceful purposes.


As the ‘pool’ (or ‘bank’) idea evolved during the next weeks it was seen as a new and evolutionary approach to nuclear arms control, as a means of building East–West confidence, and as the road to an international agency that would promote the civilian applications of nuclear energy.

At the beginning of December 1953, Eisenhower met Churchill in

Bermuda and showed him the draft of the speech, which Churchill warmly praised.


On 8 December Eisenhower presented the speech to the General

Assembly, which greeted his ideas with applause. A year later, on 4 December

1954, it unanimously endorsed the creation of the new agency.



P A R T I — C H A P T E R 2













RHODES, R., The Making of the Atomic Bomb, Simon and Schuster, New York (1986)

251–262; and HEWLETT, R.G., ANDERSON, O.E., The New World: A History of the

United States Atomic Energy Commission, Vol. 1, Pennsylvania State University Press,

University Park, PA (1962) 10.

RHODES, R., The Making of the Atomic Bomb, pp. 262–264 and HEWLETT, R.G,

ANDERSON, O.E., The New World: A History of the United States Atomic Energy

Commission, p. 11.

RHODES, R., The Making of the Atomic Bomb, p. 291.

GOLDSCHMIDT, B., Le Complexe Atomique, Fayard, Paris (1980) 39.

RHODES, R., The Making of the Atomic Bomb, pp. 303–314; ALLARDICE, C., TRAP-

NELL, E.R., The Atomic Energy Commission, Praeger, New York (1974) 3.

Introducing a speech by Dr. Teller at a Navy League dinner on 25 April 1996 in

Monterey, California, Dr. Paul M. Hoffman, President of the Monterey Peninsula

Council, outlined the preliminary steps taken towards the Manhattan Project. First came an “Advisory Committee on Uranium”. Then President Roosevelt urged scientists to “accept the challenge as their duty to find a way to separate U-235

(fissionable uranium) from U-238 (normal — i.e. natural uranium).” On

6 December 1941 (the day before Pearl Harbour), the Office of Scientific Research and Development launched the Manhattan Project. On the British team’s composition (the team included brilliant French and Hungarian refugees, amongst others), see LAURENCE, W., Men and Atoms, Simon and Schuster, New York (1959) 59.

Laurence, who was science editor of The New York Times in the late 1950s, insists that the British were “miles ahead” and that progress in the USA was painfully slow until M.L.E. Oliphant, arriving from the United Kingdom, told the US scientific community about the British programme and offered full British co-operation. (See also HEWLETT, R.G., ANDERSON, O.E., The New World: A History of the United

States Atomic Energy Commission, pp. 19, 42–44, 50–52.)

Hence, no doubt, Plutocrat!

RHODES, R., The Making of the Atomic Bomb, p. 442.

RHODES, R., The Making of the Atomic Bomb, p. 537.

An extract from the ‘Franck Report’ is given in PORRO, J. (Ed.), The Nuclear Age

Reader, Alfred A. Knopf, New York (1989) 11–13.

RHODES, R., Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb, Simon and Schuster, New

York (1995) 176–178. Ambassador Roland Timerbaev, long time Resident

Representative of the USSR to the IAEA, reports that there were many versions of

Stalin’s reactions.












In this design a subcritical mass is fired into another subcritical mass, e.g. a plug of high enriched uranium (HEU) is fired into a cylindrical channel or set of rings of

HEU. In the collision, a critical mass is formed and an uncontrolled fission reaction begins. In a later design two or more subcritical masses were fired at each other, presumably to reduce the size of the warhead (RHODES, R., The Making of the Atomic

Bomb, p. 702 and SPECTOR, L., The Undeclared Bomb, Ballinger, Cambridge, MA

(1988) 453–454). The gun assembly design is no longer used by the nuclear weapon

States, but South Africa used it for its six subsequently dismantled nuclear devices.

The Nagasaki bomb was a sphere of plutonium with a small neutron source at its centre, surrounded by a tamper of uranium. The sphere was imploded into a much smaller supercritical mass by simultaneously detonating shaped charges (‘lenses’) of high explosive at numerous points of the periphery of the tamper (RHODES, R.,

The Making of the Atomic Bomb, pp. 575–576).

The estimates of the dead of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are taken from RHODES, R.,

The Making of the Atomic Bomb, pp. 734 and 740–741. Rhodes writes that in both cities the death rate was about the same — 54%.

In assessing these appalling statistics one must not forget that conventional weapons had already caused comparable holocausts: 83 000 men, women and children were burnt to death in Tokyo in a single night. Similar or even greater numbers had perished as a result of the bombing of Dresden.

STIMSON, H.L., BUNDY, M., On Active Service in Peace and War, Harper and

Brothers, New York (1947) 635.

Ibid., pp. 643–645.

BECHHOEFER, B.G., Postwar Negotiations for Arms Control, The Brookings

Institution, Washington, DC (1961) 33.

BECHHOEFER, B.G., Postwar Negotiations for Arms Control, p. 34.

BECKMAN, R.L., Nuclear Nonproliferation, Congress and the Control of Peaceful

Nuclear Activities, Westview Press, Boulder, CO (1985) 30. Ambassador Timerbaev affirms that the USA and the United Kingdom at that time accepted the Soviet

Union’s insistence that the work of the UNAEC be subject to the direction of the

Security Council and the vetoes of its five permanent members.

The resolution creating UNAEC invited it to present proposals:

(a) For extending between all nations the exchange of basic scientific information for peaceful ends;

(b) For the control of atomic energy to the extent necessary to ensure its use only for peaceful purposes;

(c) For the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons and of all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction;


P A R T I — C H A P T E R 2














(d) For effective safeguards by way of inspection and other means to protect complying States against the hazards of violations and evasions.

BECHHOEFER, B.G., Postwar Negotiations for Arms Control, p. 34.

BECHHOEFER, B.G., ibid., p. 129.

Acheson was Assistant Secretary of State and later succeeded Byrnes as Secretary of

State. Amongst Lilienthal’s achievements was the launching of the Tennessee Valley

Authority, the most ambitious and spectacular civil engineering project of Roosevelt’s

New Deal.

The International Control of Atomic Energy, Publication 2498, US Govt Printing Office,

Washington, DC (16 March 1946). See also HEWLETT, R.G., ANDERSON, O.E., The

New World: A History of the United States Atomic Energy Commission, pp. 538–554.

CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES, Nuclear Proliferation Factbook, Congressional

Research Service, US Govt Printing Office, Washington, DC (1985) 21.

SIMPSON, J., HOWLETT, D., The Baruch Plan, PPNN Briefing Book, Volume II

(Treaties, Agreements and other Relevant Documents, 2nd edn), The Mountbatten

Centre for International Studies, Department of Politics, University of Southampton,

Southampton (1993) N-1 to N-5.

BECHHOEFER, B.G., Postwar Negotiations for Arms Control, pp. 55–60.

The ”four policemen” were the USA, the USSR, the United Kingdom and China.

France later became the fifth. (BECHHOEFER, B.G., Postwar Negotiations for Arms

Control, pp. 16–19.)

HOLLOWAY, D., Stalin and the Bomb: The Soviet Union and Atomic Energy, 1939–56,

Yale University Press, New Haven, CT (1994) 129. This outstanding work contains much more than its title suggests and is, in fact, a history of the international and not only of the Russian development of nuclear weapons until after Stalin’s death.

BECKMAN, R.L., Nuclear Nonproliferation, Congress and the Control of Peaceful Nuclear

Activities, p. 30; and RHODES, R., “The day Jimmy Byrnes appointed Bernard Baruch was the day I gave up hope”, Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb, p. 240.

BECHHOEFER, B.G., Postwar Negotiations for Arms Control, pp. 44–45.

GOLDSCHMIDT, B., “A forerunner of the NPT? The Soviet proposals of 1947”,

IAEA Bulletin 28 1 (1986) 58–64.

BECKMAN, R.L., Nuclear Nonproliferation, Congress and the Control of Peaceful

Nuclear Activities, p. 34, quoting a memorandum to Byrnes from Fred Scarles, Jr., in

US DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1946, Vol. 1, US

Govt Printing Office, Washington, DC (1972) 964, 966.

Sweden has large deposits of shale containing low grade uranium. In July 1945 the

USA asked Sweden to ban all exports of its uranium. Sweden refused, but it is doubtful whether Sweden ever exported uranium (Bo Aler’s article in Personal Reflections).















GOLDSCHMIDT, B., Le Complexe Atomique, pp. 302–303.

CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES, The Atomic Energy Act of 1946, Section 10(a)(1),

Atomic Energy Legislation through 88th Congress, 2nd Session, Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, US Govt Printing Office, Washington, DC (1984) 226.

BECKMAN, R.L., Nuclear Nonproliferation, Congress and the Control of Peaceful

Nuclear Activities, p. 35.

NOGEE, J.L., Soviet Policy Towards the International Control of Atomic Energy,

University of Notre Dame Press, South Bend, IN (1961) 150.

STIMSON, H.L., BUNDY, M., On Active Service in Peace and War, p. 643.

In autumn 1951, the General Assembly abolished the UNAEC and established in its place the United Nations Disarmament Commission: BECHHOEFER, B.G., Postwar

Negotiations for Arms Control, p. 136.

GOLDSCHMIDT, B., Le Complexe Atomique, p. 94.

By the end of 1952 there were already three declared nuclear weapon States and one or two others in the offing. The Soviet Union and the United Kingdom were starting work on their first nuclear power plants at Obninsk (5 MW(e)) and Calder

Hall (50 MW(e)): Nuclear Power Reactors in the World, April 1987 Edition, Reference

Data Series No. 2, IAEA, Vienna (1987), pp. 28 and 32. Canada was operating a large research reactor, while the Netherlands and Norway, neither of which had taken any part in the Manhattan Project, were jointly building a reactor and showing they could produce plutonium, the ‘Jeep’ reactor at Kjeller which came into operation in 1951. It used 7 tons of Norwegian heavy water as a moderator and coolant. (CONGRESS OF

THE UNITED STATES, Background Material for the Review of the International Atomic

Policies and Programs of the United States, Report to the Joint Committee on Atomic

Energy, Vol. 3, US Govt Printing Office, Washington, DC (1960) 620.)

BECKMAN, R.L., Nuclear Nonproliferation, Congress and the Control of Peaceful Nuclear

Activities, p. 61, quoting STRAUSS, L.L., Men and Decisions, Doubleday, New York

(1962) 336–337.

The object tested is now known to have been a boosted fission device. The first true

Soviet hydrogen bomb was tested only in November 1955 (HOLLOWAY, D., The

Soviet Union and the Arms Race, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT (1983) 24).

SOKOLSKI, H., “The arms control connection”, Atoms for Peace: An Analysis After

Thirty Years (PILAT, J.F., PENDLEY, R.E., EBINGER, C.K., Eds), Westview Press,

Boulder, CO (1985) 40.

BARLOW, A., The History of the International Atomic Energy Agency (unpublished thesis). The author of the book is an official in the Foreign and Commonwealth

Office of the United Kingdom. Quoting EISENHOWER, D.D., Mandate for Change,

1953–1963, Heinemann, London (1963). See also SOKOLSKI, H., in PILAT, J.F., et al.


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(Eds), Atoms for Peace: An Analysis After Thirty Years, p. 41, concerning the idea of an international pool of fissile material — the idea that was to become the kernel of the

8 December speech. BECKMAN, R.L., Nuclear Nonproliferation, Congress and the

Control of Peaceful Nuclear Activities, p. 62, quotes Eisenhower’s own words in

Mandate for Change. The USA [and the USSR] should make “actual physical donations of isotopes [sic] from our then unequaled stockpile to a common fund for peaceful purposes.”

BARLOW, A., The History of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The source he cites is DONOVAN, R.J., Eisenhower: The Inside Story, Harper, New York (1956) 185.

The full text of Eisenhower’s speech is reproduced in PILAT, J.F., et al. (Eds), Atoms for

Peace: An Analysis After Thirty Years, Annex C, pp. 283–291. A year later, on 4 December

1954, the General Assembly unanimously endorsed Eisenhower’s proposal for the creation of the new agency. First Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General

Conference Covering the Period from 23 October 1957 to 30 June 1958, GC(II)/39, IAEA,

Vienna (1958) 43.



C h a p t e r 3

1 9 5 4 – 1 9 5 6 : N E G O T I A T I O N O F

T H E I A E A ’ s S T A T U T E

T h e b i l a t e r a l p a t h

E ven before Eisenhower launched “Atoms for Peace” the US Government had negotiated agreements for nuclear assistance or sales to the United

Kingdom, Belgium and Canada. The agreement with the United

Kingdom was a natural continuation of wartime co-operation,

1 while Belgium and Canada had played a critical role in supplying uranium for US nuclear weapons.

In 1954, the US Congress provided the legal basis for “Atoms for Peace” by enacting the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 (AEA/54) which drastically amended the McMahon Act. The USA, its hands now free, and the Soviet

Union began to compete in offering nuclear research reactors to strengthen ties with friends and allies and to gain favour with the developing countries.

In May 1955, the USA and Turkey concluded the first agreement for co-operation in the peaceful uses of atomic energy under AEA/54. By the end of 1959, the USA had concluded agreements with 42 countries.


Senator John Pastore, an eloquent proponent of nuclear energy, summed up the purpose of this competition: “If the Soviet Union should seize the initiative in bringing to those power-starved nations [of Asia] the great benefits of atomic energy we shall have lost the battle.”


By 1968, the Soviet Union had narrowed the gap, having concluded nuclear co-operation agreements with 26 countries.


Most of these agreements foresaw that responsibility for the safeguards to be applied by the USA under the bilateral agreement would eventually be turned over to the IAEA. The Soviet Union did not require either bilateral safeguards or safeguards under the new agency, but recipients of Soviet aid had to pledge to use it for peaceful purposes only and to return used fuel to the USSR.

M u l t i l a t e r a l n e g o t i a t i o n s

The first Soviet reactions to Eisenhower’s proposals were dismissive.

On 19 March 1954, the US State Department handed Soviet Ambassador


P A R T I — C H A P T E R 3

Georgy Zaroubin an outline of the statute for the proposed agency based on

President Eisenhower’s proposal and during the following months five similar memoranda followed. They contained many of the features of the Statute approved two years later by 81 countries including the Soviet Union, but in

1954 the idea of an ’atoms for peace’ agency was still unacceptable to the



Moscow had doubts about the wisdom of the underlying concept and insisted that priority be given to the Soviet Union’s proposal for the total and immediate renunciation of nuclear weapons.


Gerard Smith, the leader of the

US delegation that negotiated the SALT I Treaty, and a participant in many other disarmament negotiations, wrote that: “when Molotov protested to a dubious John Foster Dulles that the atoms for peace proposal would result in the spread worldwide of stockpiles of weapon grade material, I had to explain to Dulles that Molotov had been better informed technically than he.

Subsequently, the Soviets asked how we proposed to stop this spread. The best we could reply was that ‘ways could be found’.”


The USA kept the United Kingdom, France and Canada informed about its unpromising discussions with the Soviet representatives. On 1 May 1954, the USA told the USSR that it would go ahead with the creation of the agency whether or not the Soviet Union took part. In September the USA informed the UN General Assembly of its plans to create the agency and to call an international scientific conference on all peaceful aspects of atomic energy.


Since the Soviet Union’s participation could not be counted on, the US concept of the agency was beginning to change. On 5 November 1954, Ambassador

Henry Cabot Lodge informed the Assembly that in view of the Soviet rejection of the US proposal “ might be preferable that the agency act as a clearinghouse for requests rather than take custody of fissile material.”


The concept of a ‘clearing house’ for nuclear transactions thus emerged as an alternative to that of an international pool or bank of nuclear material.

In December 1954, the United Kingdom presented the US State

Department with the first text of a draft statute for the new agency. The USA soon responded with a revised draft of its own.


In early 1955, the USA, together with the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Australia, South Africa,

Belgium and later Portugal, began negotiations in Washington on the basis of the US/UK draft. The last five members of the Eight-Nation Negotiating Group had been brought into the negotiations as producers of uranium; an indication of the political importance that the element still had in American eyes. The aim of the group was to reach agreement on the text of the statute, to go ahead and establish the agency and only then invite other States to join it.



The structure that the eight-nation group foresaw for the IAEA and several other provisions of the draft that emerged from its discussions were quite close to those of the final (1957) text of the IAEA’s Statute. Unlike most intergovernmental bodies created after the war, the IAEA would operate in some respects like a trading organization, buying and reselling nuclear plant and fuel — in a way an international reincarnation of the US Atomic Energy

Commission (USAEC). The IAEA’s chief executive would be a ‘General

Manager’ who would be responsible to a 16-nation board of directing States

— a relatively small body by present international standards. The sole legal obligation that a State would assume by joining the IAEA would be to pay its assessed share of the cost of the IAEA’s operations. Unless it received assistance from the IAEA, no Member State, nor any other nation, would be required to accept IAEA safeguards or safety standards,

11 nor to apply them to its exports and there would be no requirement to use the IAEA as a channel for nuclear supplies. In these respects the Statute is the same today, forty years later. But it was expected that the IAEA would flourish, that Member

States would eagerly compete for a seat on its Board and would turn to the

IAEA for the supply of scarce and precious uranium and for access to the latest products of nuclear technology. And “the functions of the Agency...[would] permit full assumption of responsibility [by the IAEA] for universal safeguards if and when the Great Powers agree.”


The “Great Powers” (no longer the same as they were in 1955) are still a long way from such a consensus.

Nonetheless, the Soviet Union’s agreement in July 1955 to join the IAEA negotiations and the eventual agreement between the USA and the Soviet Union to create a new international agency in a vital and sensitive field would have been inconceivable during the last years of Stalin.


Together with progress in other negotiations, the agreement on the IAEA marked the first major thaw in the post-war relations between Moscow and Washington.

The agreement was particularly significant at a time when so many benefits were expected from the ‘peaceful atom’. The prevailing euphoria was greatly boosted by the international conference on the peaceful uses of atomic energy that the USA had proposed in late 1954 and the General Assembly had agreed to hold. With worldwide encouragement, the United Nations now convened what became known as ‘The First Geneva Conference’ from 8 to

20 August 1955. It turned into the largest gathering of scientists and engineers the world had ever seen, with some 1500 delegates and more than 1000 scientific papers.


The Conference was indeed a landmark in the history of science, the first intergovernmental conference ever held to illuminate progress on a


P A R T I — C H A P T E R 3 new technology.


It confirmed to the world that countless uses of nuclear energy, in particular the generation of electricity, were now feasible. In so doing it persuaded many nations to launch nuclear research and development programmes and sharpened their interest in the proposed IAEA.

The Conference also lifted the blanket of secrecy that had descended on nuclear research in the dark days of 1939, and did much to restore the international character of science. For the first time since the war Soviet scientists were able to attend a scientific meeting outside the USSR and meet their Western colleagues. In a heady atmosphere of competitive declassification (and, doubtless, to put pressure on the USA) France went so far as to publish the technology of reprocessing spent nuclear fuel to recover plutonium, until then a closely guarded secret. The only nuclear technology, other than the construction of the bomb itself, that remained under wraps was that of enriching uranium.

The prevailing optimism was typified by Admiral Lewis Strauss, the

Chairman of the USAEC, who predicted that: “It is not too much to expect that our children will enjoy electrical energy too cheap to meter...will travel effortlessly over the seas and under them and through the air with a minimum of danger and at great speeds.”


Others foresaw that nuclear energy would propel trains and cars and that nuclear desalting of the oceans would turn the deserts green. The President of the Conference, the eminent Indian physicist

Homi Bhabha, predicted that “during the next two decades” scientists would have found a way of “liberating [thermonuclear] fusion energy in a controlled manner... When that happens the energy problems of the world will truly have been solved for ever...”


For Bhabha and his colleagues in the developing world, nuclear energy would provide a short cut to the prosperity that the industrialized countries were now beginning to enjoy. Churchill summed it up: atomic energy would be “a perennial fountain of world prosperity.”


It is hardly surprising that the services of the IAEA were expected to be in great demand.

T h e U S S R c o m e s o n b o a r d a n d t h e U S A c o n f r o n t s t h e r i s k s

A few weeks before the Geneva Conference, the Soviet Union had taken a step that was to transform the prospects for international nuclear co-operation and the nature and scope of the future IAEA. On 18 July 1955, it agreed to join the Statute negotiations in Washington and, as a token of its participation, to make available 50 kg of uranium-235 in low enriched form (i.e. below 20%


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A uranium-235) to the new agency and to join a study of the safeguards that the agency would need.


On 29 July 1955, the USA sent the Soviet Government the eight-nation draft of the statute and on 22 August circulated the draft to all the

States that were then members of the United Nations or of any specialized agency.


After the Geneva Conference experts from the USA, USSR, United

Kingdom, France, Canada and Czechoslovakia met to consider the technical questions that would arise in drawing up a system of safeguards. This was the first serious discussion of nuclear controls since the early days of the UNAEC.

Neither the USA nor the USSR was yet ready to put forward concrete proposals for the IAEA system, but the USSR was now prepared to commit itself to a strong system, at least in principle. Soviet support of rigorous safeguards was, however, much less evident 15 months later at the Conference on the Statute.


It was in preparation for this meeting that the US negotiators and their scientific colleagues for the first time seriously confronted the dilemma of

‘promotion versus control’.


The Suez crisis in October 1956 had spurred

European effort to develop nuclear energy as an alternative to oil, thus bolstering, in Western eyes, the need for the “Atoms for Peace” policy. The policy was also serving the aim of strengthening economic and technical bonds between Europe and the USA. But the spread of nuclear technology

“would increase the possibilities that the technology could be used for military purposes.” As the third volume of the official history of the USAEC put it, “the problem was that international promotion and control of atomic energy were contradictory; the success of the one tended to hurt the cause of the other.”


Moreover, there were grave doubts at that time whether it would be technically possible to develop effective safeguards; there was much discussion of ‘tagging’ or ‘spiking’ nuclear materials, for instance with gamma ray emitters that would make them easier to monitor, and astronomically high estimates were made of the number of inspectors that the IAEA would require to monitor a single nuclear plant.


And without effective safeguards it was doubtful whether the USA should join the IAEA or ” the construction of any nuclear power plants abroad on a bilateral basis.”


John Hall, then Director of the USAEC Division of International

Activities, put the question squarely: ”In these circumstances, should the US withdraw from its announced intention of furthering atoms for peace throughout the world?” The answer he gave was “No”.


Abandoning “Atoms for

Peace” would not only involve a serious loss of face for President Eisenhower and the US Government, it would not avert the risk of proliferation, but, as the


P A R T I — C H A P T E R 3

USA saw it, merely leave the field open to other suppliers that were less concerned about the dangers of diversion. The problem was not how to abandon the policy but how to achieve its goals in a way “that minimized the proliferation of nuclear weapons throughout the world.”


N u c l e a r b r o k e r o r c l e a r i n g h o u s e v e r s u s n u c l e a r ‘ p o o l ’ o r ‘ b a n k ’

The views of the USA about the fundamental role of the future agency depended to a great extent on whether or not the USSR would take part in the negotiations and contribute fissile material to the IAEA. If the USSR were to become an active member of the agency, then Eisenhower’s concept of the

IAEA serving as a pool or bank siphoning off nuclear materials from the stockpiles of the nuclear weapon States, and of thus slowly achieving nuclear disarmament, might become a reality. If, however, the USSR continued to remain aloof there would be no point in placing US and possibly some UK nuclear material under the physical control of the IAEA. This was clear from

Ambassador Lodge’s statement to the General Assembly referred to above.

Now that the USSR had agreed to join the negotiations and had pledged some fissile material, the USA swung back at least partly to the concept of the

IAEA as a pool or bank and, as will be seen, the Statute reflects this concept, especially in Articles IX and XII.B. However, as we shall also see, the IAEA was not to become a pool or bank or, to any significant extent, a clearing house. In the late 1950s, one of the chief reasons was that many members of

Congress preferred to supply direct to partners in bilateral agreements and thus bypass the IAEA and apply US safeguards to the transaction. Through such bilateral arrangements Congress could determine who would receive

US nuclear material and make sure that it did not end up in hands that many members of Congress distrusted, such as those of the Soviet Union and its allies.

T h e S t a t u t e t a k e s f i n a l s h a p e

At the General Assembly in the autumn of 1955 it was agreed that the eight-nation group would be expanded to twelve (as the Soviet Union had proposed), that a revised version of the draft Statute would be circulated to all members of the UN and its specialized agencies and that a conference would be held at UN Headquarters in late 1956 to review and give final approval to the Statute.



On 27 February 1956, the USSR, Czechoslovakia, Brazil and India joined the Washington group — two ‘Socialist’ and two developing countries. For the first time developing countries could now exert some influence on the contents of the Statute. They sought to link the Agency more closely to the

United Nations, to make the IAEA more like a UN specialized agency

(symbolically, the ‘General Manager’ of the Agency became the ‘Director

General’, a title customarily used in the specialized agencies) and India, with some support from the Soviet Union, sought to blunt the edge of safeguards.

The USA had reviewed its position on the IAEA and had concluded that since the Soviet Union was now participating, the question of the IAEA’s custody of nuclear material would once again be a central issue. The other main issues that arose during the meetings of the twelve-nation group were the safeguards to be incorporated in the Statute

28 and the composition of the future Board of Governors.

During eight weeks — from 27 February until 18 April 1956 — the twelve-nation group elaborated the Statute in much the same form and content that it has today.


The group can therefore be regarded as the main collective architect of the IAEA, but in most cases it built upon the foundations laid by the eight-nation draft. It made no structural changes to that draft and maintained the IAEA’s central function as a receiver, distributor, broker and safeguarder of nuclear materials.

In the following summary of the results of the twelve-nation group’s work, the references given are to the articles of the Statute as they were numbered when the Statute was finally approved in October 1956 and as they are still numbered today.

T h e I A E A ’ s o b j e c t i v e s a n d f u n c t i o n s

The twelve-nation group reaffirmed the dual aim of the IAEA set by the eight-nation group; the IAEA’s purpose would be to promote the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and seek to ensure that it was not used “to further any military purpose” (Article II).

The IAEA’s authorized functions were to be extremely broad. In summary the IAEA was empowered to:

— Take any action needed to promote research on, development of, and practical applications of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes

(Article III.A.1);


P A R T I — C H A P T E R 3

— Provide materials, services, equipment and facilities for such research and development, and for practical applications of atomic energy “with due consideration for the needs of the under-developed areas of the world” (Article III.A.2);

— Foster the exchange of scientific and technical information (Article III.A.3);

— Establish and apply safeguards to ensure that any nuclear assistance or supplies with which the IAEA was associated should not be used to further any military purposes — and apply such safeguards, if so requested, to any bilateral or multilateral arrangement

(Article III.A.5);

— Establish or adopt nuclear safety standards (Article III.A.6).

The Statute does not explicitly mention what was to become one of the main functions of the IAEA, namely the provision of ‘technical assistance’

(now ‘technical co-operation’). However, the Statute underlined the special importance of helping the developing countries to make use of nuclear energy. This was implicit in Article II, which enjoined the IAEA to seek “to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity throughout the world” and explicit in Article III.A.2, which requires the Agency to give “due consideration for the needs of the under-developed areas of the world.” It was also explicit in the clause that the Conference on the Statute added to Article III on the proposal of Poland, which authorized the IAEA “to encourage the exchange and training of scientists and experts in the field of the peaceful uses of atomic energy” (Article III.A.4).


The first

General Conference in 1957 called for priority to be given to the Agency’s work of benefit to the developing countries and in 1959 the IAEA launched a fully fledged technical assistance programme under which it organized training courses and provided the services of experts and specialized equipment as well as fellowships. By the mid-1990s, the programme was valued at some

$60 million a year.

Another significant clause required the IAEA to “conduct its activities in accordance with the purposes and principles of the United Nations to promote peace and international co-operation and in conformity with the policies of the United Nations furthering the establishment of safeguarded world-wide disarmament and...any international agreements entered into pursuant to such policies” (Article III.B.1).

Since it was foreseen that the IAEA’s work would have a political as well as economic character, the twelve-nation group prescribed that the IAEA’s


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A main reporting link would be to the General Assembly of the United Nations rather than to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to which the

United Nations specialized agencies report (Article III.B.4). Moreover, it was conceivable that the application of safeguards might raise issues of international security. Accordingly, on the proposal of the Soviet Union, the

Statute also required the IAEA to submit reports to the Security Council if, in connection with the IAEA’s work, “there should arise questions that are within the competence of the Security the organ bearing the main responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security”

(Article III.B.4). This provision would also enable the Soviet Union to exercise its veto in the Council if its interests so required (precisely what the Baruch plan had sought to avoid).

T h e r e l a t i v e p o w e r s o f t h e G e n e r a l C o n f e r e n c e , t h e B o a r d o f G o v e r n o r s a n d t h e D i r e c t o r G e n e r a l

The twelve-nation group also maintained the earlier draft’s remarkable concentration of executive power in the Board of Governors rather than in the annual General Conference in which all Member States have the right to take part. The Board was to “have authority to carry out the functions of the Agency in accordance with this Statute” and subject to its responsibilities to the General Conference (Article VI). In practice this meant, inter alia, that the Board would exercise exclusive power in most safeguards matters: it would draw up and approve safeguards systems, appoint inspectors, approve safeguards agreements and, if doubts arose about the nuclear activities of a State in the context of IAEA safeguards, the Board would judge whether the State was complying with its safeguards obligations. If the Board found against the State it would report the non-compliance directly to the Security Council and the General Assembly (Article XII.C

and, as noted, Article III.B.4).

The Board would also prepare the IAEA’s programme and budget and submit the budget to the General Conference for approval; if the General

Conference did not like the Board’s proposals it could not change them, but could only return them with its recommendations to the Board, for eventual resubmission to the Conference (Articles V.E.5 and XIV.A).


P A R T I — C H A P T E R 3

In certain cases, however, the General Conference was to have the last word. Its concurrence would be needed for:

— The approval of new Member States of the IAEA (Articles V.E.1 and IV);

— The suspension of a Member that had persistently violated the Statute or any agreement made with that Member pursuant to the Statute

(Articles V.E.2 and XIX);

— The approval of reports required by the IAEA’s relationship agreement with the United Nations (except reports on the violation of safeguards agreements which, as noted, were to go directly from the Board to the

Security Council and General Assembly) (Articles V.E.6 and XII.C);

— The approval of agreements between the IAEA and other organizations

(Articles V.E.7 and XVI);

— The approval of the appointment of the Director General (Article VII.A).

Even in these cases the General Conference could only act upon a recommendation by the Board. It could not alter a proposed agreement with another organization; as in the case of the budget it could only return the text of the draft agreement, together with its own recommendations to the Board, for resubmission to it. In practice the General Conference has never returned a proposed budget nor a proposed agreement to the Board and it does not formally approve the IAEA’s annual reports to the United Nations.


The authority of the Director General (the ‘General Manager’ in the eight-nation draft) was also to be circumscribed, at least on paper. He was to be the “chief administrative officer of the Agency”, to be appointed by the

Board with the approval of the General Conference (Article VII.A), and he was to “...perform his duties in accordance with regulations adopted by the

Board” (Article VII.B).

In prescribing this unique division of power amongst the two Governing

Bodies and the chief executive, the eight-nation and twelve-nation groups differentiated the IAEA from most of the specialized agencies of the United



In these organizations ultimate authority is usually vested in the periodical conference of all Member States. The chief executive officer submits the proposed budget direct to that conference (with the observations of the executive body) and the conference may make whatever changes it wishes.

When the Conference on the Statute reviewed the twelve-nation draft in

October 1995, it left largely untouched the unprecedented concentration of power in the hands of the Board of Governors.



T h e c o m p o s i t i o n o f t h e B o a r d o f G o v e r n o r s

It seemed likely that the Board’s decisions could vitally affect the expanding nuclear programmes of many Member States. Hence it became important for them to secure a permanent seat on the Board.

The eight-nation version of the Statute assigned ‘quasi-permanent’ seats

(that is, permanent as long as they retained their leading status) to the five leading contributors of technical assistance and fissile materials. The eight chief producers and contributors of source materials (chiefly natural uranium) would have shared five seats.


Since some uranium production statistics were still secret and since some States had to be included to achieve an acceptable political balance it was necessary to name the eight States concerned. Six further members of the Board were to be elected by the General Conference.

In the twelve-nation group the Indian delegation came up with a complex but ingenious formula that has stood the test of time. In the form in which it was eventually approved the Indian formula divided the world into eight regions: North America, Latin America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe,

Africa and the Middle East, South Asia, South East Asia and the Pacific, and the Far East.

Without naming the countries concerned, the Indian formula provided that the five Member States “most advanced in the technology of atomic energy including the production of source materials” would hold quasipermanent seats on the Board. The five were understood to be the USA,

USSR, France, the United Kingdom and Canada.


Similarly, quasi-permanent seats were to be held by the Member States considered to be the “most advanced in the technology of atomic energy including the production of source materials” but not located in the same areas as the top five. In 1956, five of the specified regions were not covered by the top five members: Latin

America, Africa and the Middle East, South Asia, South East Asia and the

Pacific, and the Far East.

It was understood that Brazil would hold the seat in Latin America, India in South Asia, South Africa in Africa and the Middle East, Japan in the Far East and Australia in South East Asia and the Pacific. The formula also assigned an alternating seat to the pair Belgium and Portugal and another to the pair

Czechoslovakia and Poland (as producers of source material, i.e. natural uranium) and one other seat to a member to be selected by the Board as a supplier of technical assistance (it was tacitly understood that this seat would


P A R T I — C H A P T E R 3 rotate amongst four Scandinavian countries — Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden).


The twelve-nation group thus sought to ensure that nine of its members would have quasi-permanent seats on the Board and three would serve every other year. One nation not participating in meetings of the group,

Japan, would have a quasi-permanent seat

36 and one other, Poland, would have an alternating seat.


A further ten members were to be elected for two-year terms by the

General Conference “with due regard to equitable representation on the

Board as a whole, of the members in the [eight] areas,” one each from seven of the specified areas (North America being excluded since it was expected that the two members in this region, Canada and the USA, would be among the top five and hold designated seats). The remaining three elected members could come from any of the specified areas.


Although the membership of the Board has since grown to 35 States, the top five have become the top ten and include China, and the Middle

East has been joined with the South Asian region, the original Indian formula is still the organizing principle of the Board (Articles VI.A to VI.C of the Statute). Moreover, with one exception, all those States that in 1956 were assured permanent or, at least, continuous seats on the Board have retained them. The exception was South Africa, which lost its seat in 1977 and regained it in 1995.

N u c l e a r m a t e r i a l s

Reflecting Eisenhower’s idea that the principal aim of the IAEA would be to reduce the stockpiles of fissile materials in the hands of the nuclear weapon States, the Agency would have no right to refuse any such material made available to it. The IAEA would merely be empowered to specify the place and method of delivery of nuclear material “which it has requested a member to deliver from the amounts which that member has notified the

Agency it is prepared to make available.” The IAEA would also be required to accept responsibility for storing and protecting the materials in its possession and “as soon as practicable [to] establish or acquire the plant, equipment and facilities for the receipt, storage and issue of materials.”


On the other hand the Board would determine how much source material the IAEA would accept.




‘ A g e n c y p r o j e c t s ’

It was foreseen that the normal arrangement by which the IAEA would provide or would arrange for a Member State to provide nuclear materials, equipment or services would be an ‘Agency project’ as defined in Article XI of the Statute. On the proposal of Brazil, the IAEA was authorized to help its members to secure finances “from outside sources” to carry out such projects.

But the IAEA would not assume any financial responsibility for the project

(Article XI.B).

Before approving an ‘Agency project’ the Board would examine the project’s usefulness and feasibility, the adequacy of the resources available for its effective execution, the adequacy of health and safety standards and other relevant aspects including “the special needs of the under-developed areas of the world” (Article XI.E). A formal agreement would be concluded between the Agency (in effect, the Board) and the requesting State. This would specify the items to be transferred, the conditions for ensuring the safety of the shipment and the charges to be made. It would include undertakings by the

State that the assistance provided would not be used in such a way as to further any military purpose and would specify the safeguards to be applied

(Article XI.F).

In the years since 1957, the IAEA has approved many ‘Agency projects’, but few of them involved significant nuclear plants or quantities of nuclear materials. Consequently, contrary to the original expectations, these projects did not become the normal means of giving assistance to a developing country nor of triggering safeguards. In the 1960s, IAEA safeguards were usually brought into action by a request from the parties to a bilateral agreement, asking the Agency to apply the safeguards prescribed in that agreement.



1970 onwards the most common initiator of safeguards took the form of an agreement concluded between a non-nuclear-weapon State party to the NPT and the IAEA.

The most frequently used channel for providing the services of experts, training and equipment became the IAEA’s technical assistance programme, later renamed the technical co-operation programme. The agreements under which such technical assistance was provided were soon deemed not to be

‘Agency projects’ within the statutory meaning of the term and thus not to require formal case-by-case evaluation and approval by the Board or the application of safeguards. The Secretariat also granted (and continues to grant) fellowships, arranges training courses and sends out scientific and technical


P A R T I — C H A P T E R 3 experts from its staff without individual authorizations by the Board. In 1968, the Board also authorized the Director General to supply small quantities of nuclear materials for research purposes without explicit Board approval.


As time passed ‘Agency projects’ were limited to formal — and increasingly infrequent — undertakings for the supply of a research reactor or reactor fuel, and in two cases, Mexico and Yugoslavia, for the supply of a power reactor and its fuel.


In both these cases the recipient government wished to distance itself on paper, for political reasons, from the actual supplier. In practice the research and power reactors and the reactor fuel went directly from the manufacturer or fabricator (nearly always a US company) and the IAEA’s involvement was purely pro forma. As noted elsewhere, except in cases where, for political reasons, the purchasing nation wished to distance itself from the real supplier, importing countries generally found it simpler and no more expensive to enter into a commercial agreement with the manufacturer of the nuclear power plant.

S a f e g u a r d s

The text of the draft Statute prepared by the eight-nation group had stipulated in Article II that the IAEA should ensure that the materials it supplied should be used only for peaceful purposes. The group drafted provisions, couched in general terms, for inspections and other verification measures.


When the twelve-nation group met, the USA put forward much more detailed proposals. The safeguards procedures it proposed were modelled on the safeguards prescribed in the numerous nuclear co-operation agreements that the USA was now concluding.


These safeguards were to become the substance of Article XII of the Statute as it was finally approved.

With US encouragement, similar inspection provisions were later included in the Treaty of Rome which established EURATOM, and in the 1957

Convention of the OECD under which the OECD’s European Nuclear Energy

Agency applied safeguards to its own joint enterprises.


As a result, the

IAEA Statute, the Rome Treaty and the OECD systems use identical or very similar language to describe their safeguards, inspection rights and regimes.

For instance, IAEA, EURATOM and OECD inspectors “...shall at all times have access to all places and data and to any person[s] who by reason of his

[their] occupation deal[s] with materials, equipment, or facilities” subject to safeguards.




On the basis of the US proposals the twelve-nation group decided that the IAEA would be authorized to:

— Examine and approve the design of nuclear plants (but solely in order to verify that they would not further any military purpose, would comply with safety standards and would permit the application of safeguards)

(Article XII.A.1).

— Require the keeping of operating records (Article XII.A.3).


— Call for and receive reports (Article XII.A.4).


— Approve the means used for reprocessing spent fuel — but solely to ensure that reprocessing did not lend itself to diversion and complied with applicable safety standards — and require the deposit with the IAEA of “special fissionable material” (i.e. plutonium) surplus to that which the

State concerned needed for reactors it was operating or constructing

(Article XII.A.5).

— Send inspectors to the “recipient” State or States, designated by the

IAEA in consultation with the State(s). As noted, the inspectors “shall have access at all times to all places and data and to any person” dealing with nuclear items required to be safeguarded. The inspectors’ tasks would be to account for all nuclear material covered by the IAEA’s agreement with the State, and verify compliance with the State’s undertaking against “furtherance of any military purpose” and with any other conditions prescribed in the agreement with the State (Article XII.A 6).

The IAEA would also have authority to require the observance of nuclear safety measures (Article XII.A.2). Its inspectors were also to verify that in the IAEA’s own operations it was complying with it own safeguards and safety measures (Article XII.B).

The inspectors would be required to report to the Director General any non-compliance (by a State) that their work might disclose. The Director

General was required, in turn, to report the matter to the Board. If the Board confirmed that the State was not complying with its safeguards agreement it could call upon the State to comply forthwith. The Board would also be required to report the non-compliance to all Member States of the IAEA and to the Security Council and General Assembly of the United Nations. The

IAEA would also have the right to impose specified sanctions (Article XII.C).

The Indian delegation soon made clear that it was firmly opposed to extensive safeguards. It sought to defer discussion of safeguards until the IAEA


P A R T I — C H A P T E R 3 was in operation and was about to conclude agreements with individual governments, at which stage the matter should be treated on a case-by-case basis. India also opposed the application of safeguards to source material, in particular to natural uranium (which it planned to use in its CIRUS reactor).


India had some support from France, which likewise opposed safeguards on source materials. French lack of enthusiasm for safeguards reflected their resentment of US efforts during the late 1940s and 1950s to prevent France from getting the bomb.

The USSR also generally sought to limit the IAEA’s responsibilities and the size of the IAEA’s budget and to assert the rights of States over those of the IAEA.

The USA, supported by the majority of members of the group and, in particular, by the United Kingdom and Canada, successfully resisted most of the attempts to weaken IAEA safeguards, but India was able to introduce a phrase limiting the IAEA’s safeguards rights and responsibilities solely to those “relevant to the project or arrangement”.

F i n a n c e s

The twelve-nation group agreed to divide the Agency’s expenses into two categories:

— “Administrative expenses” to be met by assessed (i.e. compulsory) contributions by all members (Articles XIV.B.I and XIV.D). These expenses were to include the salaries of the Secretariat and the costs of meetings, preparing ‘Agency projects’, distributing scientific and technical information, and safeguards (less any amounts that might be recoverable under the agreement with the State concerned).

— ‘Other expenses’, i.e. the cost of materials, facilities, plant and equipment acquired by the IAEA or provided by it under agreements with

Member States. The cost of items provided by the IAEA to Member

States were to be covered by a scale of charges to be set by the Board

(Articles XIV.B.2 and XIV.F). Any profits made by the IAEA as a result of its nuclear purchases and sales and any voluntary contributions it received were to be placed in a General Fund which the Board could use as it saw fit, subject to the approval of the General Conference

(Article XIV.F).



As will be seen later, much of this complex machinery was never activated, but voluntary contributions to the General Fund became the main source of finance for the IAEA’s technical assistance programme.

R e l a t i o n s w i t h t h e U n i t e d N a t i o n s

Reflecting their national interests, the West, the Soviet Union and the developing countries had widely different views on the desirable relationship between the United Nations and the IAEA. Generally, the West and especially the United Kingdom, USA, France, Belgium, Portugal and the

‘Old Commonwealth’ countries (Australia, South Africa, and to a lesser extent Canada) wanted as much autonomy as possible for the IAEA so as to insulate it from the political issues — the drive against the colonial powers and against the racist policies of South Africa — that then figured so prominently on the agenda of the General Assembly. This group also wished to prevent the developing countries from using their voting power in the

General Conference to expand unduly the IAEA’s technical aid. The Soviet

Union would have preferred an agency directly responsible to the Security

Council, thus enabling it to use its veto power if the West tried to use its predominance in the IAEA for anti-Soviet actions. The developing countries preferred an agency closely tied to the UN and responsible to the General

Assembly. This was also the preference of senior UN officials including

Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld, who was thought to regard atomic energy, and even its peaceful use, as too important to be left to an autonomous body. In October 1955, Hammarskjöld established a special atomic energy subcommittee of the inter-agency Administrative Committee on

Co-ordination to keep under review the future activities of the IAEA as well as those of several specialized agencies already interested in specific applications of nuclear science and nuclear energy.


The compromise reflected in Article XVI of the Statute and subsequently in the relationship agreement between the IAEA and the UN was to require the IAEA to report annually to the General Assembly, to the Security Council whenever the IAEA activities involved questions of international peace and security (including infractions of safeguards agreements) and optionally to

ECOSOC and other UN organs on matters within their competence. The

Statute also requires the IAEA to consider any resolution addressed to it by


P A R T I — C H A P T E R 3 any council of the UN and to report, if so requested, on the action that the

IAEA or its members had taken “in accordance with this Statute as a result of such consideration.”



In 1954, seeking to deflect an Indian proposal calling for an immediate end to all nuclear explosions, the USA proposed and the General Assembly unanimously approved a resolution asking the United Nations to establish a committee to study the effects of radiation on human health.


In March 1956, while the 12-nations were meeting in Washington,

Secretary General Hammarskjöld took the step called for by the General

Assembly resolution and set up the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, or UNSCEAR.


This would ensure that the

United Nations — and not the IAEA — would play the role of watchdog in regard to an important matter of nuclear safety. The decision to create

UNSCEAR was a reaction to fallout from military activities and thus, in the view of the West at the time, not a subject to be dealt with by the IAEA. But in time UNSCEAR was also to become the official international authority on the effects of radiation produced by peaceful as well as military activities and on the effects of natural as well as man-made radiation.

When most atmospheric testing ceased after 1963, natural and civilian emissions became the main and in time almost the sole sources of radiation affecting humans and their environment. And since the end of the Cold War,

Western nations appear to have become less reluctant to see the IAEA involved in monitoring the effects of radiation arising from military activities, for instance at Semipalatinsk (now in Kazakstan), in the Kara Sea, from sunken submarines in the North Atlantic or from nuclear testing in the South

Pacific (the Marshall Islands and Mururoa Atoll).

T h e C o n f e r e n c e o n t h e S t a t u t e

In April 1956, the USA circulated the revised version of the Statute on behalf of the twelve-nation group to all the States that at that time were members of the UN or any of its specialized agencies and invited them to send delegations to New York in September to finalize and approve the Statute.



The USA also circulated the draft rules of procedure of the conference agreed upon by the twelve-nation group. These were unsurprisingly weighted in favour of the twelve-nation draft; any amendment would require the approval of two thirds of the participating States

55 and the time allowed for proposing amendments was kept short.


One question left open was the representation of China. The USSR, supported by Czechoslovakia and India, vigorously but unsuccessfully maintained that only the People’s Republic of China had the right to represent the

Chinese nation. This issue was to be a source of considerable friction in the

IAEA’s Governing Bodies for the next 15 years. The Soviet Union and its allies pressed their argument for the admission of the People’s Republic and the ejection of the ‘Republic of China’ on every occasion when the question of

Chinese credentials arose, in other words at every session of the General

Conference and at every occasion when the Republic of China was elected to the Board. On every such occasion the USA was able to muster sufficient votes to block the Soviet proposal. This went on until 1971 when the Board, following the lead given by the UN General Assembly, accepted that only the

People’s Republic could legitimately represent that nation. But it was not until 1983 that China decided to join the IAEA.

On 20 September 1956, the Conference on the Statute opened at the

United Nations Headquarters in New York. Eighty-two States took part.

While the United Nations provided services and the venue, the Conference was an ad hoc meeting of the States concerned and not of the United Nations itself.

The Conference elected Ambassador J.C. Muniz of Brazil as its

President. The 12 nations of the Washington Group generally rallied to the defence of their draft and warned against attempts to upset the ‘delicate’ balance that had been achieved in, for instance, the allocation of seats on the future Board of Governors and the division of power between the Board and the General Conference. While the Conference approved many clarifying amendments to the Statute, the final version of the Statute was essentially the same as the twelve-nation draft, with a slight shift in the balance of power towards the General Conference and a provision for a review of the Statute at the sixth General Conference in 1962 if a majority of the Member States so desired (in the event, they did not). The USSR made an unsuccessful attempt to require that the IAEA’s budget be approved by at least three quarters instead of two thirds of the delegations attending the Board and the General




P A R T I — C H A P T E R 3

Apart from the issue of Chinese representation, the only major disagreements related to the proposals in the twelve-nation draft for the IAEA’s safeguards, which several developing countries likened to neo-colonialism. A special bone of contention was a clause in the draft Statute authorizing the

IAEA to require the deposit with it of fissile material (i.e. plutonium) recovered as a result of reprocessing that exceeded the amount needed for reactors in operation or under construction in the country concerned. The Indian delegate (Homi Bhabha) argued that this would enable the IAEA Board of

Governors (“23 gentlemen in Vienna”) to dominate the States that received

IAEA assistance. The French and Swiss delegations eventually devised an acceptable compromise.

India also opposed safeguards on natural uranium on the grounds that this would unfairly favour countries that had their own uranium reserves — and also opposed the principle implicit in the twelve-nation draft that safeguards should apply to succeeding generations of nuclear material, arguing that if a country like India turned to the IAEA for help in starting its nuclear programme this principle would ensure that it would never be free of safeguards.


With one notable addition the safeguards provisions in the Statute remained very much as they had been drafted in Washington. The addition related to the Washington version of Article III.A.5. This authorized the IAEA to apply safeguards to its own projects and, “at the request of the parties, to any bilateral or multilateral arrangement.” Thailand, obviously inspired by the USA, proposed adding the words: “or at the request of a State to any of that State’s activities in the field of atomic energy.” The more cynical delegations dismissed the proposal as naive — what government in its senses would inflict safeguards on itself? But the Conference accepted the proposal. One of the tasks of the Conference’s co-ordinating committee was to ensure consistency between revised articles of the draft and the remainder of the Statute.

In a late night session the committee decided not to bother about devising an additional clause in Article XIV (“Finance”) that would provide a mechanism for recovering the cost of applying such implausible safeguards.

History was to prove the cynics wrong. The clause proposed by

Thailand was to become a legal basis for the IAEA to apply safeguards in the non-nuclear-weapon States party to the NPT, in the five nuclear weapon

States after they had offered to place at least some civilian nuclear activities under safeguards, in the parties to the Tlatelolco Treaty and to fissile material released from military stocks in nuclear weapon States.




At the end of the Conference the USA announced that it was prepared to provide the IAEA with the equivalent of 5000 kg of contained uranium-235 and to match all contributions made by other countries before 1 July 1960.

T h e c h o i c e o f t h e I A E A ’ s h e a d q u a r t e r s

There were already four candidates for the permanent headquarters of the IAEA: Vienna, Geneva, Copenhagen and Rio de Janeiro. The Austrian

Government had especially strong grounds for pressing its case. Choosing

Vienna as the IAEA’s seat would underline Austria’s neutral status and mark its re-entry into the international community after the ignominious years of

‘Anschluss’ and after the end of the four-power occupation. Vienna, on the frontier between Western and Soviet spheres of influence, was acceptable to both Washington and Moscow. The fact that the IAEA was expected to handle and store large amounts of fissile material also pointed to a neutral site on the

East/West frontier. The Austrian delegation carried the day. While the

Conference formally left it to the Prepcom to make a final recommendation to the first meetings of the General Conference and Board of Governors, it prejudged the issue by adopting a resolution in favour of Vienna.


R a t i f i c a t i o n o f t h e S t a t u t e

On 23 October 1956, after a little more than five weeks, the Conference approved the complete text of the revised Statute. During the following three months, the 81 nations that had taken part in the Conference signed the

Statute. The ratification process began as soon as the Conference had come to an end. The Statute entered into force nine months later on 29 July 1957, when

26 States (including those whose ratification was specifically required) had deposited their instruments of ratification.

T h e S u e z c r i s i s a n d i t s n u c l e a r c o n s e q u e n c e s

Soon after the conclusion of the Conference, and without warning, two major international crises erupted. On 29 October 1956, Israel, and subsequently


P A R T I — C H A P T E R 3 the United Kingdom and France, invaded Egypt in an attempt (ending after a week in ignominious failure) to regain control of the Suez Canal. At the same time the Soviet Union intervened in Hungary to topple the Government of Imre Nagy and suppress the uprising of the Hungarian people. Neither event had a direct bearing on the negotiation of the IAEA’s Statute. However, after France’s withdrawal from Egypt, the French Prime Minister, Guy Mollet, who had hitherto firmly opposed a French nuclear weapon, decided to press ahead with the French nuclear weapon programme.


A French observer maintains that on the night of 5–6 November 1956 Mollet and the French Chief of the

General Staff agreed that France must provide Israel with the means to acquire the bomb.


France’s decision to provide Israel with the Dimona reactor and reprocessing technology dates from that time, and in this way the Suez debacle precipitated the emergence of two new nuclear weapon States.









US officials had put a stop to this co-operation at least once during the war and it had been broken off after Roosevelt’s death but was subsequently restored (GOLD-

SCHMIDT, B., Les Rivalités Atomiques, Fayard, Paris (1967) 70–84 and 124–125).

CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES, Background Material for the Review of the

International Atomic Policies and Programs of the United States, Report to the Joint

Committee on Atomic Energy, Vol. 3, US Govt Printing Office, Washington, DC

(1960) 897.

BECKMANN, R.L., Nuclear Non-Proliferation, Congress and the Control of Peaceful

Nuclear Activities, Westview Press, Boulder, CO (1985) 70, quoting the legislative history of AEA/54, p. 850.

TIMERBAEV, R.M., Peaceful Atom on the International Arena, International Relations

Publishers, Moscow (1969) 129 (in Russian).

Stoessinger quotes another sceptical statement by Molotov: “The level of science and technique which has been reached at the present time makes it possible for the very application of atomic energy for peaceful purposes to be utilized for increasing the production of atomic weapons.” STOESSINGER, J.G., “Atoms for Peace:

The International Atomic Energy Agency”, Organizing for Peace in the Nuclear Age,

Report of the Commission to Study the Organization of Peace, New York University

Press, New York (1959) 120.

CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES, Review of the International Atomic Policies and

Programs of the United States, pp. 723–725.














SMITH, G., “Nuclear commerce and non-proliferation in the 1980s — Some thoughts”, address to the US Atomic Industrial Forum, 29 April 1982. See also

HEWLETT, R.G., HOLL, J.M., Atoms for Peace and War: 1953–1961, Eisenhower and

the Atomic Energy Commission, University of California Press, Berkeley, CA (1989)

221–222; PILAT, J.R., PENDLEY, R.E., EBINGER, C.K. (Eds), Atoms for Peace: An

Analysis After Thirty Years, Westview Press, Boulder, CO (1985) 29; and SZASZ, P.C.,

The Law and Practices of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Legal Series No. 7,

IAEA, Vienna (1970) 24. Szasz quotes the Soviet Union’s note to the USA dated

30 January 1954 charging that “...since even peaceful nuclear activities could lead to the production of materials usable for bombs, the proposed stimulation of such activities throughout the world could actually lead to an intensification of the arms race.”

CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES, Review of the International Atomic Policies and

Programs of the United States, p. 726.


SZASZ, P.C., The Law and Practices of the International Atomic Energy Agency, p. 28.

BECHHOEFER, B.G., STEIN, E., “Atoms for Peace, The New International Atomic

Energy Agency”, Michigan Law Review (April 1957) 761.

BECHHOEFER, B.G., STEIN, E., ibid., p. 774.

BECHHOEFER, B.G., “Negotiating the Statute of the International Atomic Energy

Agency”, International Organization (1959) 38.

GOLDSCHMIDT, B., Le Complexe Atomique, Fayard, Paris (1980) 271.

In fact, nuclear energy is the only technology whose progress has been marked by a series of intergovernmental conferences.

US Atomic Energy Commission press release, remarks prepared for Founders’ Day

Dinner, National Association of Science Writers, 16 September 1954, p. 9, quoted in:

HILGARTNER, S., BELL, R.C., O’CONNOR, R., Nukespeak, Penguin Books, New

York (1982) 44. General David Sarnoff, head of the Radio Corporation of America, went even further, unwisely predicting that “it can be taken for granted that before

1980, ships, aircrafts, locomotives and even automobiles will be atomically fuelled” and “I do not hesitate to forecast that atomic batteries will be commonplace before

1980” (SCHLESINGER, J.R., “Atoms for Peace revisited”, in PILAT, J.F., et al. (Eds),

Atoms for Peace: An Analysis After Thirty Years, pp. 10–11).

UNITED NATIONS, Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy (Proc. Int. Conf. Geneva, 1955),

Vol. 16, UN, New York (1956) 35. Today, 41 years later, scientists are still several years away from being able to “liberate fusion energy” in a usable manner, and at least several decades away from the generation of electricity at a competitive price by fusion energy.


P A R T I — C H A P T E R 3















BECKMANN, R.L., Nuclear Non-Proliferation, Congress and the Control of Peaceful

Nuclear Activities, p. 70.

CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES, Review of the International Atomic Policies

and Programs of the United States, pp. 729 and 844.

This formula was commonly used by the USA to exclude the People’s Republic of

China and the German Democratic Republic.

CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES, Review of the International Atomic Policies and

Programs of the United States, pp. 844–845.

HEWLETT, R.G., HOLL, J.M., Atoms for Peace and War, pp. 306–320.

HEWLETT, R.G., HOLL, J.M., ibid, p. 307.

‘Spiking’ proved to be impracticable. A task force concluded that to monitor a moderate sized chemical plant [presumably a reprocessing plant] a full-time force of 40 inspectors would be needed. HEWLETT, R.G., HOLL, J.M., ibid., pp. 316–317.

HEWLETT, R.G., HOLL, J.M., ibid, p. 315.

HEWLETT, R.G., HOLL, J.M., ibid, p. 317.

HEWLETT, R.G., HOLL, J.M., ibid, p. 318.

CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES, Review of the International Atomic Policies and

Programs of the United States, p. 731.

Some of the outstanding personalities of the eight- and twelve-nation groups were

Ambassador Gerry Wadsworth and Ronald Spiers of the US delegation (Spiers, subsequently US Ambassador in Egypt, did most of the drafting), Georgy

Zaroubin, Soviet Ambassador in Washington, Homi Bhabha and Arthur Lall of the

Indian delegation, Maurice Couve de Murville, later French Foreign Minister, and

Bertrand Goldschmidt of France, ‘Mike’ Michaels of the United Kingdom, Bill

Barton of Canada, Sir Percy Spender of Australia and Donald Sole of South Africa.

BECHHOEFER, B.G., STEIN, E., “Atoms for Peace, The New International Atomic

Energy Agency”, p. 757.

Article VI of the IAEA Statute requires the Board to make an annual report to the

General Conference “concerning the affairs of the Agency and any projects approved by the Agency [i.e. by the Board].” This report is drafted by the

Secretariat and normally submitted to the Board in June each year for its approval.

In the early years this report was brought up to date after the autumn session of the

General Conference and then submitted as the IAEA’s Annual Report to the

General Assembly, as required by Article III.B.4 of the Statute. A separate report was also prepared for ECOSOC. Since 1975, the annual report approved by the

Board has become the sole official annual report of the IAEA and serves as the report to the General Conference and the General Assembly.







Under Articles 57 and 63 of the United Nations Charter, the specialized agencies are intergovernmental organizations “having wide international economic, social, cultural, educational, health and related fields” that are brought into relationship with the United Nations by agreements concluded with ECOSOC. They report on their activities annually to ECOSOC. The IAEA, however, was brought into relationship with the UN by means of an agreement approved by the General

Assembly and its main links are with that body, to which it reports annually, and with the Security Council, to which it reports on issues within the Council’s competence

(essentially compliance or non-compliance with safeguards agreements). This reflects the fact that, unlike the specialized agencies, whose work is almost entirely in economic and social fields, the IAEA is required by its Statute to deal with issues of security. Until the late 1960s, when the IAEA’s safeguards began to cover more nuclear plants and the entire nuclear fuel cycle of certain countries, there was little to differentiate the IAEA from a specialized agency of the United Nations. As the IAEA’s safeguards operations expanded, and especially after the entry into force of the NPT, the

IAEA’s relations with the UN began to change. The First (Political) Committee of the

General Assembly began to make a detailed examination of the IAEA’s annual report.

And in 1981 the IAEA made its first report to the Security Council.

BECHHOEFER, B.G., STEIN, E., “Atoms for Peace, The New International Atomic

Energy Agency”, p. 754, footnote 35, and SZASZ, P.C., The Law and Practices of the

International Atomic Energy Agency, pp. 139–140, para.

Japan and the Federal Republic of Germany were still far behind the United

Kingdom, France and Canada in the use of nuclear energy. So was the People’s

Republic of China (which joined the IAEA only in 1984).

SZASZ, P.C., The Law and Practices of the International Atomic Energy Agency, pp. 150–151, para.

It is noteworthy that the uranium producing countries were able to ensure that ‘the production of source material’ rather than, for instance, the number of reactors in a particular State, would be explicitly mentioned as a factor to be taken into account in designating States for permanent seats on the Board, an aspect of relevance today to

Australia, which has consistently been designated as the State most advanced in the technology of atomic energy including the production of source materials in the region of South East Asia and the Pacific. This is in spite of the fact that it has no nuclear power plants, only one nuclear research reactor and no other significant nuclear facilities but remains an important producer of uranium. In the relatively near future, Australia’s right to the seat may nevertheless be challenged by Indonesia, which has three research reactors and is debating a programme for the construction of several large power reactors.


P A R T I — C H A P T E R 3












It is also noteworthy that the formula refers to States “advanced in the technology of atomic energy” rather than States advanced in the technology of the peaceful

uses of atomic energy. In theory, at least, a State that had no civilian but did have a significant military nuclear programme could qualify for a permanent seat.

Unless it were displaced by the People’s Republic of China, but this was a distant prospect and was later solved by including both nations in the top category.

SZASZ, P.C., The Law and Practices of the International Atomic Energy Agency, pp. 140–141, para.

SZASZ, PC.., ibid., p.151, para.

IAEA Statute, Articles IX.G, H and I.

Ibid., Articles IX.A and B and BECHHOEFER, B.G., “Negotiating the Statute of the

International Atomic Energy Agency”, p. 51.

The agreement might require that safeguards be applied to a particular plant or supply of fuel — or to all nuclear shipments between the two countries concerned.

Or the recipient country might wish to maintain the fiction that the request for safeguards flowed from its own entirely voluntary and ‘unilateral’ decision. In practice it was a condition set by the supplying country.

RAINER, R.H, SZASZ, P.C., The Law and Practices of the International Atomic Energy

Agency: 1970–1980, Supplement to the 1970 Edition of Legal Series No. 7, Legal Series

No. 7-S1, IAEA, Vienna (1973) 198.

In a third case the IAEA supplied enriched uranium for ‘booster rods’ for a power reactor, the Kanupp reactor in Pakistan. The USA was the source of the enriched uranium (see INFCIRC/116 of 6 September 1968). A simultaneously concluded project agreement relating to this transaction had the effect of bringing the enriched uranium and the reactor under safeguards. The IAEA was not originally involved in the supply of the reactor itself or its initial natural uranium fuel, but some

15 months later Pakistan formally placed the reactor, its fuel and its heavy water under IAEA safeguards (see INFCIRC/135 of 13 November 1969).

CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES, Review of the International Atomic Policies and

Programs of the United States, p. 730.

BECHHOEFER, B.G., STEIN, E., “Atoms for Peace”, p. 764.

Treaty Establishing the European Atomic Energy Community, Articles 77–81 and

Convention on the Establishment of a Security Control in the Field of Nuclear

Energy, Articles 3–5. MARKS, S.H. (Ed.), Progress in Nuclear Energy, Series X, Law and Administration, Pergamon Press, London (1959), 852–853 and 910. Also

CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES, Review of the International Atomic Policies and

Programs of the United States, p. 793. The “European Nuclear Energy Agency” of the

Organization for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC) came into existence on
















1 January 1958. The name of the OEEC was changed to ‘Organisation for Economic

Co-operation and Development’ (OECD) and as the ENEA expanded to include, as noted above, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the USA and Canada, it became the

‘Nuclear Energy Agency’ (NEA) of the OECD. Since the NEA’s joint enterprise in

Belgium (EUROCHEMIC) would automatically be under EURATOM safeguards, the two organizations concluded an agreement under which the NEA suspended the application of its safeguards on the plant in question.

IAEA Statute, Article XII.A.6 and Rome Treaty, Article 81. Similarly, both organizations have the right to call for the deposit with them of fissile material surplus to the immediate needs of the operator (IAEA Statute, Article XII.A.5, and Rome Treaty, Article 80).

For instance, in the case of a power reactor, the plant manager would keep records of the fuel loading and refuelling of the plant, its electrical output and changes in nuclear material and all untoward events at the plant. The manager would have to keep many of these records for safety purposes and for the economic operation of the plant.

These reports would cover all movements of and changes in nuclear material at the plant in question and any unusual event.

CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES, Review of the International Atomic Policies and

Programs of the United States, p. 733.

Ibid., p. 763.

IAEA Statute, Articles III.B.4-5 and XVI.B.2. See also STOESSINGER, J.G., “The

International Atomic Energy Agency: The first phase”, International Organization 13 3

(1959) 402.

HEWLETT, R.G., HOLL, J.M., Atoms for Peace and War, p. 303.

CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES, Review of the International Atomic Policies and

Programs of the United States, p. 768.

Rule 24 of the Rules of Procedure of the Conference.

All proposals for amendment had to be submitted by the end of the eighth working day, i.e. by midnight on 2 October 1956.

Article XIV.H of the Statute provides that the decisions of the General Conference on all financial matters will require approval by two thirds of those present and voting. The same majority is required for the decisions of the Board on the Agency’s budget.

BARLOW, A., The History of the International Atomic Energy Agency (unpublished thesis), citing GOLDSCHMIDT, B., “The origins of the IAEA”, IAEA Bulletin 19 4

(1977) 12–19.

It may be argued that the preceding clause (“to apply safeguards, at the request of the parties, to any bilateral or multilateral arrangement...”) would give sufficient


P A R T I — C H A P T E R 3




63 authority for the IAEA to apply safeguards to non-nuclear-weapon States party to the NPT. But the clause was designed rather to apply safeguards to bilateral or multilateral supply agreements such as those between the USA and Japan or the

USA and EURATOM. It would not provide authority for the IAEA to apply safeguards pursuant to the unilateral voluntary offers of the nuclear weapon States.

Much later, at a private luncheon in Vienna, Dr. Heinz Haymerle, then head of the political department in the Austrian Foreign Ministry, gave his reasons why Austria had been so intent on having the IAEA in Vienna. In 1937, he said, Austria had disappeared from the map and no one except Mexico (which refused to recognize the

‘Anschluss’) had noticed its disappearance. This time, by having an international organization in Vienna, the Austrian Government wanted to ensure that any repetition of its disappearance would be noticed!

GOLDSCHMIDT, B., “La France...abandonnée par l’Angleterre, freinée par l’O.T.A.N., contrecarrée par les Etats-Unis et menacée par l’Union

retrouvait terriblement seule...[et] le gouvernement Mollet...son hostilité à l’armement transforma du jour au lendemain en un intêret certain”, Les

Rivalités Atomiques, pp. 221–222.

Pierre Pean quotes Mollet as saying twice “Je leur dois la bombe” and the Chief of the General Staff, Ely, as agreeing “Il faut leur donner cette contrepartie pour assurer leur sécurite. C’est vital” (PEAN, P., Les Deux Bombes, Fayard, Paris (1982) 84). In an interview with the London Sunday Times on 12 October 1986, Francis Perrin, High

Commissioner of the French Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique from 1951 to 1970, is quoted as saying “We wanted to help Israel... We knew the plutonium could be used for a bomb, but we considered also that it could be used for peaceful purposes.”

The Sunday Times report was summarized in Nucleonics Week, 16 October 1986.

For Guy Mollet’s decision to go ahead with the French nuclear weapon programme see Goldschmidt, B., Les Rivalités Atomiques, pp. 215–222.

Le Monde writes that the Suez crisis not only accelerated the French programme, but that it also led to a secret agreement with Franz Josef Strauss of the Federal

Republic of Germany and subsequently with Italy — for Germany and Italy as well as France to become nuclear weapon powers. Strauss was the second most important figure at that time in Chancellor Konrad Adenauer’s cabinet and subsequently

Premier of Bavaria and a vigorous opponent of the NPT. (“En Automne 1956, vers l’Europe nucléaire, échaudée par la crise de Suez, la France envisagea très sérieusement, il y a quarante ans, de se doter avec l’Allemagne et l’Italie d’une ‘arme nouvelle’ ”, Le Monde, 27–28 October 1996.)



C h a p t e r 4

1 9 5 7 — T H E P R E P A R A T O R Y C O M M I S S I O N



A n Annex to the Statute provided that a Preparatory Commission

(Prepcom) would come into existence on the day the Statute was opened for signature and it laid down the Prepcom’s composition and terms of reference. The Prepcom consisted of the representatives of 18 nations: the 12 nations that had met in the Washington group and 6 other States elected by the Statute Conference, a notable addition amongst the latter being Japan.


The Prepcom remained in existence until the convening of the first session of the IAEA’s General Conference and the selection (by designation and election) of the first Board of Governors.


The Executive Director of the Prepcom was an exceptionally able and energetic Swiss diplomat, Paul Jolles, who later rose to one of the highest posts in his country’s government.

The Prepcom’s main tasks were to:


— Prepare for the first session of the General Conference, propose its draft agenda and rules of procedure;

— Designate the non-elected members of the first Board (13 States at that time);


— Recommend

• the IAEA’s ‘Initial Programme’ and budget (specifically for 1958) and the structure of its permanent establishment,

• the location of the IAEA’s permanent headquarters,

• the draft of the agreement establishing the IAEA’s legal relationship with its host government,

• the financing of the IAEA.

— Negotiate a relationship agreement between the IAEA and the United


— Recommend the contents of the IAEA’s relationship agreements with the specialized agencies of the United Nations and other international organizations that had programmes relating to nuclear energy.

The Prepcom’s tasks were thus formidable, its staff worked until the small hours seven days a week. For many of its recommendations the staff


P A R T I — C H A P T E R 4 could draw upon precedents set by the UN and its specialized agencies, such as the scale of contributions by Member States to be used to finance the

IAEA’s operations, the provisions of the Headquarters Agreement with the

Government of Austria, the rules of procedure for the Board and General

Conference, the IAEA’s relationship with the UN and other international organizations, and its staff and financial regulations. For the Prepcom’s most difficult task, drawing up the Initial Programme, what little guidance there was lay in the broadly worded authority given in the Statute itself.

Formally, the Initial Programme was limited to the first full year of the

IAEA’s work, i.e. 1958, but in practice it provided guidance for several years ahead.


The programme document opened with an eloquent and far-sighted introduction by Brian Urquhart, later to become one of the most influential and highly regarded officials of the United Nations.


In broad terms the

Programme recommended that the IAEA should begin by helping its

Member States to determine their needs for nuclear research and for using nuclear techniques and technologies.


It laid stress on the need to train personnel of the developing countries in the use of nuclear techniques.

More specifically, the IAEA should:

— (As noted) encourage a special programme of reactor construction to help Member States train staff, begin research and gain experience in reactor development.


However, the Initial Programme was fairly realistic about the prospects for nuclear power and assumed that the applications of nuclear science in agriculture, medicine, etc., would at first be the mainstay of the IAEA’s technical work.


— Establish internationally accepted standards of nuclear “health and safety”, in particular for the safe transport of nuclear materials.


— Promote the exchange of scientific and technical information by a series of scientific conferences, the publication of a bulletin and the creation of a technical library.


— Arrange with Member States for the supply of nuclear materials and prepare for the receipt, storage and distribution of such materials and make similar preparations in regard to services, equipment and facilities made available to the Agency.


— Advise Member States about their training programmes, survey available training facilities, determine the needs of developing countries for trained personnel and help them meet those needs (for instance by providing fellowships), consider taking part in the United Nations



Expanded Programme of Technical Assistance and study the need for regional centres and help to establish such centres.


— Prepare to carry out its statutory responsibilities for nuclear safeguards, and acquire staff, including inspectors, for this purpose.


— Set a 1958 target of $250 000 in voluntary contributions for launching a modest fellowship programme.


— Set a “regular”, i.e. assessed budget, of $3 465 000 for 1958.


— Study the needs for a laboratory;

17 this was the only specific reference to the possibility of the IAEA acquiring physical assets.

The FAO and WHO had already established units dealing with the use of nuclear techniques in food and agriculture and medicine, WHO and ILO were concerned about nuclear safety and from 9 to 20 September 1957, just before the first General Conference of the IAEA, UNESCO held the first international conference on the use of radioisotopes.


Hence, the Initial

Programme’s stress on non-power applications of nuclear science and on various aspects of nuclear safety was bound to lead to disputes with some of the specialized agencies.

It had been the understanding of many delegations that the first Director

General of the IAEA would be a scientist from a neutral country and the name of Harry Brynielsson, Managing Director of the Swedish Atomic Energy

Company (Aktiebolaget Atomenergi), had been widely mentioned.


In August

1957, however, an article appeared in The New York Times announcing that the

USA would propose the appointment of Sterling Cole, Republican

Congressman from Painted Post, upper New York State, and influential

Chairman of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy of the US Congress (which had to approve US participation in the IAEA).


In July and August 1957, the Prepcom’s staff and national representatives moved to Vienna. The former were given temporary offices in the

Musikakademie and worked to the sound of music as students and members of the orchestra practised their notes in adjoining rooms.

T h e f i r s t G e n e r a l C o n f e r e n c e

The first session of the IAEA’s General Conference took place in the halls of the Konzerthaus from 1 to 23 October 1957. The prevailing mood was a good deal more sombre than four years previously when Eisenhower had


P A R T I — C H A P T E R 4 launched the idea of an agency. The Hungarian and Suez crises still cast their shadows. There was less assurance about the early use of nuclear energy.


US insistence on an American Director General presaged East/West strains and conflicts. Soon after the Conference opened, the Soviet delegate, Professor

Vassily Emelyanov, startled the delegates and disconcerted NATO members by announcing the first flight in outer space around the earth — on 4 October

1957 — of a satellite, Sputnik-I or the ‘travelling companion’. Sputnik-II followed a month later with a live dog, Laika, on board.


As a gesture to the host country, the Conference invited Austrian

President Adolf Schärf to address its opening session and former Austrian

Foreign Minister Karl Gruber to preside over it.


After sorting out an unforeseen procedural problem,

24 the Conference proceeded to approve all the documents that had been prepared by the Prepcom and endorsed by the

Board and to approve Finland’s application for membership. The Conference recommended that the Board give priority to nuclear activities of benefit to the developing countries. The Conference also approved the selection of

Vienna as the seat of the IAEA, the Agency’s relationship agreement with the

United Nations

25 and the appointment of Sterling Cole, the Soviets placing on record their preference for a neutral Director General but not insisting on a vote. It appears that in return for expected Soviet concurrence in Cole’s appointment, Ambassador Pavel Winkler of Czechoslovakia had been elected as the first Chairman of the Board.

When the Conference opened the IAEA had 54 Member States, of which

52 sent delegations to Vienna. By the Conference’s close membership had grown to 59.

T h e e m e r g e n c e o f r e g i o n a l n u c l e a r b o d i e s i n

W e s t e r n E u r o p e

T h e E u r o p e a n A t o m i c E n e r g y C o m m u n i t y

( E U R A T O M )

While the IAEA Statute was gathering the ratifications needed to bring it into force, two new regional nuclear agencies, EURATOM and the European

Nuclear Energy Agency (ENEA), were emerging in Western Europe. In some crucial respects they were likely to compete with the IAEA and with each other.



In July 1952, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy and the three

Benelux countries — often referred to as ‘the six’ — established the European

Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). On 16 November 1956, at the height of the

Suez crisis, the Foreign Ministers of ‘the six’ decided to appoint ‘three wise men’ under the chairmanship of Louis Armand (who was later to serve as first

President of the EURATOM Commission) to set a target for the ECSC’s production of nuclear electricity. Their report, published in May 1957, recommended a target for ‘the six’ of 15 000 MW(e) of installed nuclear power by 1967.

On 25 March 1957, ‘the six‘ signed the ‘Rome treaties’ establishing

EURATOM and the European Economic Community or ‘Common Market’.

The treaties entered into force on 1 January 1958. In August 1958, the US

Congress approved an ambitious US/EURATOM programme for building nuclear power plants in ‘the six’ under which the USA would supply enriched fuel, guarantee fuel fabrication and ‘fuel life’ and provide a market for plutonium.


During this period ‘the six ‘and EURATOM also negotiated an agreement for nuclear co-operation with the USA under which EURATOM would apply its safeguards to nuclear material and equipment supplied by the USA. Amongst its other consequences the US/EURATOM agreement would have the effect of severely limiting the potential scope of IAEA safeguards.


T h e E u r o p e a n N u c l e a r E n e r g y A g e n c y

The Organization for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC) was established on 16 April 1948. Its chief purpose was to channel US aid under the Marshall Plan to the 16 Western European nations that had indicated their willingness to take part in a programme of common action to bring about economic recovery.


The OEEC was a much looser and larger association of

Western European nations than the Common Market, which it predated by some eight years.

In 1955, the OEEC agreed to establish a Commission for Energy and to explore the possibilities of co-operation in nuclear energy. On 18 July 1956, the Council of Ministers of the OEEC decided to set up a Steering Committee for Nuclear Energy to study the possibility of launching joint undertakings for the production and use of nuclear energy and to draw up an international security control (i.e. safeguards) system, chiefly to ensure that such joint undertakings “shall not further any military purpose”.



P A R T I — C H A P T E R 4

On 20 December 1956, and on the recommendation of the Steering

Committee, the Ministerial Council approved the creation of a:

— European Nuclear Energy Agency (ENEA),


— Security control system,

— European reprocessing plant (EUROCHEMIC) as a joint undertaking.

The Council also approved preliminary ENEA activities in third party liability and, in particular, nuclear safety.

In June 1950, the USA and Canada had accepted an invitation “to associate themselves informally with the OEEC” and to attend its meetings.


In the years that followed, the USA gave its full support to the initiatives taken by the OEEC including those in the field of nuclear energy and subsequently the USA and Canada became full members of the organization. As its membership thus expanded to include non-European nations the OEEC changed its name to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development


Construction of EUROCHEMIC was completed (at Mol in Belgium) in

1960 and the EUROCHEMIC company operated until 1990.


The USA provided much help in the design and construction of the plant, including technical reports, long term secondment of US experts and visits of European scientists to US reprocessing plants.


In 1958 and 1959, ENEA launched two further joint undertakings, a boiling heavy water research reactor at Halden in Norway (which reached criticality in June 1959) and the Dragon high temperature gas cooled reactor at Winfrith Heath in the United Kingdom.


Despite considerable effort to reach agreement on projects to build a nuclear powered merchant ship and a high flux reactor, ENEA was unable to launch any further joint undertakings. It was more successful in preparing a

‘Convention on Third Party Liability’, on which it began work in 1958.

Programmes of work were also begun on nuclear safety, radiation protection and the economic aspects of nuclear power. In 1960, it moved into a new field by establishing a study group on food irradiation. The question of the IAEA’s relationship with the ENEA was raised in the Board almost immediately after the ENEA came legally into being on 1 January 1957, but the Board gave precedence to addressing relations with those specialized agencies that were already at work on the applications of nuclear energy that they considered to be within their terms of reference.



Soviet suspicion of EURATOM ensured that the relationship between the IAEA and EURATOM would for many years be cool and distant, and it remained so until after the entry into force of the NPT and the start of negotiations of a safeguards agreement between the two organizations and

EURATOM’s non-nuclear-weapon States. It was clear, on the other hand, that many of the programmes of the ENEA would overlap with those of the IAEA in Europe unless the two agencies could quickly agree on close co-operation and a sensible division of labour. The IAEA and ENEA soon developed good working relations, jointly sponsoring activities where their work overlapped. A formal agreement for mutual co-operation was negotiated and entered into force on 30 September 1960.


The membership of the ENEA, like that of its parent the OEEC, eventually expanded to include nations outside Europe and similarly required it to drop ‘European’ from its name and become simply the ‘Nuclear Energy

Agency (NEA) of the OECD’.


A g r e e m e n t s w i t h o t h e r i n t e r g o v e r n m e n t a l o r g a n i z a t i o n s

Optimism about the future of nuclear energy, the need to ensure nuclear safety as well as various political influences led to a proliferation of other regional nuclear energy bodies in the 1950s and 1960s. In Eastern Europe, the

Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, better known in the West as

COMECON, set up a nuclear unit chiefly in order to ensure uniformity in nuclear safety standards in its member countries.

The Organization of American States similarly established an Inter-

American Nuclear Energy Commission (IANEC) with which the IAEA concluded a relationship agreement in 1960.


The two agencies occasionally held a joint scientific meeting but IANEC was perennially short of funds and the opportunities for co-operation were few and far between.

In 1964, at a conference in Tokyo, the Chairman of the Pakistan Atomic

Energy Commission launched the idea of creating ASIATOM. The only concrete result at that time was that in 1964 the Director General of the IAEA appointed, on an experimental basis, a regional officer based at the headquarters of the UN Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, in



The IAEA also concluded co-operation agreements with the Organization for African Unity and the League of Arab States.



P A R T I — C H A P T E R 4




















The IAEA Statute, Annex I, para. A, names the 12 States (Australia, Belgium, Brazil,

Canada, Czechoslovakia, France, India, Portugal, Union of South Africa, the USSR, the United Kingdom and the USA). The Prepcom came into existence on the day that the Statute was opened for signature, i.e. 26 October 1956, and remained in existence until 3 October 1957.

IAEA Statute.

IAEA Statute, Annex I, para. C.

The Prepcom designated as members of the first Board the ‘top five’ (Canada,

France, the USSR, the United Kingdom and the USA), five States from other regions leading in nuclear technology (Australia, Brazil, India, Japan and South Africa), two producers of uranium (Czechoslovakia and Portugal) and one purveyor of technical assistance (Sweden). (First Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the

General Conference Covering the Period from 23 October 1957 to 30 June 1958, GC(II)/39,

IAEA, Vienna (1958), p. 9, para. 38.)

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference Covering the Period

from 1 July 1958 to 30 June 1959, GC(III)/73, IAEA, Vienna (1959), p. 1, para. 2.

Report of the Preparatory Commission of the International Atomic Energy Agency, New

York, 1957, document GC/1/1, pp. 3–6.

Ibid., pp. 9–10, paras 26–30.

Ibid., p. 14, para. 51.

Ibid., pp. 11–12, paras 37–41.

Ibid., pp. 22–25, paras 95–100.

Ibid., pp. 18–19, paras 66–68.

Ibid., p. 15, paras 55–56.

Ibid., pp. 20–21, paras 75–79.

Ibid., p. 22, paras 84–85.

Ibid., p. 54.

Ibid., p. 51, and CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES, Background Material for the

Review of the International Atomic Policies and Programs of the United States, Report to the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, Vol. 3, US Govt Printing Office, Washington,

DC (1960) 739–740.

Report of the Preparatory Commission of the International Atomic Energy Agency, p. 26, para. 104.

CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES, Review of the International Atomic Policies

and Programs of the United States, p. 776.











ALLARDICE, C., TRAPNELL, E.R., The Atomic Energy Commission, Praeger, New

York (1974) 204.

The USA had formally raised the issue of Cole’s appointment with Emelyanov in June 1957, but there had been some haggling with the USSR about the posts that it would get in the IAEA in return for agreeing to a US Director General

(HEWLETT, R.G., HOLL, J.M., Atoms for Peace and War: 1953–1961, Eisenhower and the

Atomic Energy Commission, University of California Press, Berkeley, CA (1989) 437).

HEWLETT, R.G., HOLL, J.M., ibid., p. 435.

HEWLETT, R.G., HOLL, J.M., ibid., p. 464.

The delegations and the Secretariat were overwhelmed by the generous hospitality of the Austrian Government and the City of Vienna. This included a ball at the

Schönbrunn Palace and a special performance of the ‘Marriage of Figaro’ at the

Redoutensaal (with a cast that included Elizabeth Schwartzkopf and Lisa della Casa) offered by the Government and a ball at the Rathaus offered by the City of Vienna.

In preparing for the Conference, the Secretariat had faced an unforeseen procedural problem. As noted, the Statute prescribes that the Board of Governors must draw up and submit the IAEA’s budget to the General Conference for its approval and that similar procedures must be followed in regard to the relationship agreement with the United Nations, the appointment of the Director General and applications for membership. But according to the Statute there could be no Board of Governors until the General Conference, meeting in a regular annual session, had chosen the

Board’s elected members (under the Annex to the Statute the designated members of the first Board had been appointed by the Prepcom). The only procedure consistent with the Statute was, therefore, to hold a brief ‘regular session’ of the General

Conference to elect the missing members of the Board, convene the Board itself to endorse the budget, approve the relationship agreement with the United Nations and other documents prepared by the Prepcom, recommend Finland for membership and then reconvene the General Conference in ‘special session’ to take action on the recommendations of the Board. The IAEA/United Nations relationship agreement entered into force on 17 November 1957.

For these and other actions of the Conference, see First Annual Report of the Board of

Governors to the General Conference Covering the Period from 23 October 1957 to 30 June

1958, pp. 2 and 43. On the initiative of the USA the second General Conference approved a resolution calling upon the IAEA to submit an annual report to

ECOSOC as well as to the General Assembly (Annual Report of the Board of Governors to

the General Conference Covering the Period from 1 July 1958 to 30 June 1959, p. 9, para. 41).

CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES, Review of the International Atomic Policies

and Programs of the United States, p. 809.


P A R T I — C H A P T E R 4













As will be seen in Chapter 8, the safeguards of EURATOM embodied in the “Treaty

Establishing the European Atomic Energy Community”, Articles 77–81, closely resembled those in the IAEA Statute and in the OEEC Security Control Convention.

This was chiefly for the simple reason that to obtain nuclear supplies from the USA,

European safeguards had to be compatible with and closely resemble those that the

USA was applying under its bilateral agreements for co-operation in the peaceful uses of atomic energy.

CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES, Review of the International Atomic Policies

and Programs of the United States, pp. 788–793.

ENEA’s safeguards are set forth in Articles 3–5 of the ‘Convention on the

Establishment of a Security Control in the Field of Nuclear Energy’. For the full text of the Convention, see MARKS, H.S. (Ed.), Progress in Nuclear Energy, Series X, Law and Administration, Pergamon Press, London (1959) 909–914. See also CONGRESS

OF THE UNITED STATES, Review of the International Atomic Policies and Programs of

the United States, p. 793.

The “European Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organization for European

Economic Cooperation” (OEEC) came into existence on 1 January 1958;

CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES, Review of the International Atomic Policies

and Programs of the United States, p. 788.

Ibid., p. 788.


Company 1956–1990, OECD, Paris (1996), reviewed in Enerpresse No. 6729 (24

December 1996).

CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES, Review of the International Atomic Policies

and Programs of the United States, p. 794.

Ibid., p. 795.

Agreements Registered with the International Atomic Energy Agency, 11th edn, Legal

Series No. 3, IAEA, Vienna (1994) 11.

The USA and Canada became associate and subsequently full members of the

ENEA. Japan, Australia, the Republic of Korea and Mexico eventually joined the

NEA. In 1996, the first countries from the former Warsaw Pact, the Czech Republic and Hungary, were approved for membership. (See NEA Communiqués of 26 May

1994 and NEA/COM (96)12 of 27 June 1996.)

Agreements Registered with the International Atomic Energy Agency, p. 12.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1963–30 June

1964, GC(VIII)/270, IAEA, Vienna (1964), p. 34, para. 158. As Tadeusz Wojcik mentions in his essay in Personal Reflections, the experiment was not a success and the appointment was terminated in 1971. However, in 1996 the Philippines raised



39 the idea again at conferences in Tokyo and at the Third ASEAN Regional Forum in

Jakarta (letter of 2 August 1996 from Ambassador Zaide of the Philippines in

Vienna to Director General Hans Blix).

The agreement with the League of Arab States came into force on 15 December 1971

(Agreements Registered with the International Atomic Energy Agency, p. 111).




1 9 5 7 – 1 9 9 7 :



C h a p t e r 5



1 9 5 7 – 1 9 6 1 : A d i f f i c u l t s t a r t

A fter the first General Conference had closed its doors, the Agency began to tackle the task of establishing a new international organization in a city that still bore the scars of war and of its ten year occupation by the four Allied powers (France, the USSR, the United Kingdom and the USA). It was said that in 1945 Hitler had ordered a last stand in Vienna against the advancing Red Army. Many buildings along the Danube Canal, the last barrier before the heart of the city, were in ruins. Allied air raids had brought down the roofs of St. Stephan’s Cathedral and of the Opera, but one of the first acts of the Austrian Government after the war was to restore both buildings to their pre-war splendour. Elsewhere, vacant lots showed where heavily damaged buildings had been demolished. Rubble still blocked parts of the city’s main street (Kärntnerstrasse). Unlike New York and Geneva, untouched by the war, where all municipal facilities were fully functional,

Vienna was just emerging from its tribulations. Except for its extensive but slow and noisy tram car network, communications were poor. Most buildings were badly heated and dimly lit. Many Viennese were still poor and shabby, motorcars were few and far between, electric goods and other ‘luxuries’ even scarcer. Austria, and particularly its eastern parts, had been isolated by war and occupation, few Viennese had travelled abroad for business or pleasure since 1939 and there was a sense of intellectual isolation. There was also some resentment against the new colony of rich foreigners, enjoying their duty-free commissary and extensive diplomatic privileges, relatively few of whom could speak German; a colony that was seen by some Viennese as a successor to the Allied occupation.

In ‘The Third Man’, Orson Welles had depicted the more seamy aspects of Vienna at the end of the 1940s. By the time the Prepcom arrived the black market of the early post-war years had largely disappeared — gone with the occupation — but Vienna remained a useful base for espionage for both

NATO and the Warsaw Pact, and the IAEA Secretariat and delegations to the

Agency were believed to harbour several secret service agents.


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 5

The IAEA‘s first tasks were to recruit qualified staff for the posts foreseen in the 1958 programme, and find a building to house the Secretariat and provide a meeting room for the Board of Governors. The Austrian

Government offered several choices as temporary headquarters for the

Secretariat until such time as the IAEA would build its permanent home. The temporary offers included a former hospital (Spital der Kaufmannschaft), a half-ruined castle (Schloss Kobenzl or Kobenzlhof) in the Vienna Woods above Grinzing, various government and private buildings,

1 and the empty

Grand Hotel, a splendid example of ‘Ring style’ (‘Gründer’ style) late

Victorian architecture which had been used by the Red Army until the end of the four power occupation in 1955. All except the Grand Hotel were too small or too remote from the centre of Vienna. On behalf of the IAEA, Paul Jolles chose the hotel, conveniently situated on the Ring and providing ample accommodation, including an area that could later be converted into the meeting room for the Board.


United Nations rates of pay were very attractive and there was no difficulty in recruiting local staff. Dr. Karl Gruber, the President of the first session of the General Conference, was attached to the Director General’s office with the task of helping the IAEA to fit into Austria, or, as the wits had it, helping

Austria to fit into the IAEA.

Many Member States maintained continuity with the past by appointing as Governors on the Board or Resident Representatives the persons who had represented them at the Washington talks and the Statute Conference and on the Prepcom. Their familiarity with the evolution of the IAEA and the issues before it enabled them to play a leading role during the early years of the Agency and in some cases even for a decade or two later. By far the most influential, until he retired in the late 1970s, was the Governor from France,

Bertrand Goldschmidt, Director of External Relations at the Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique. Goldschmidt had worked with the Curies before the war and with the British team in Canada on the fringes of the Manhattan Project, and on his return to France he helped to launch and direct the French nuclear energy programme. At the end of Sterling Cole’s term, Goldschmidt worked hard to secure the appointment of Sigvard Eklund of Sweden as the second

Director General, and during his 20 years in office Eklund frequently turned to

Goldschmidt for advice. When Goldschmidt’s retirement was in sight at the end of the 1970s the Board of Governors waived its informal rule that no representative of a nuclear weapon State could serve as its chairman and unanimously elected him to that post.




Others who played a prominent role included Vassily Emelyanov of the

USSR, who skilfully defended many difficult briefs, Pavel Winkler,

Czechoslovak representative at the Washington talks, the Statute Conference and the Prepcom and the formidably skilful first Chairman of the Board,

Michael Michaels of the United Kingdom, hard headed and caustic spokesman for the main Western policies, the forceful and gifted Homi Bhabha of India, Donald Sole of South Africa, whose good sense and intellectual acuity led to his election as third Chairman of the Board despite his nationality,

Ismael Fahmy of the United Arab Republic — now Egypt — whose determination persuaded reluctant Western Governors to agree to establish the first

IAEA sponsored regional centre in Cairo, and ‘Biggy’ Keenan, the Resident

Representative of Israel who, though not a Governor, seemed to know better than anyone else what was going on in the IAEA and skilfully defended

Israel’s interests.

Nearly all the Governors had taken part in the Washington talks and the

New York Conference on the Statute. The USA broke ranks by appointing as

Governor Robert McKinney, a publisher from New Mexico who had had no prior association with the IAEA but who was known as a strong supporter of nuclear power and who had served as chairman of a Congressional panel on the impact of the peaceful uses of atomic energy.


McKinney’s successor in

1959 was Paul F. Foster, former General Manager of the US Atomic Energy

Commission (USAEC) and before that a distinguished Admiral, twice winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest American award for bravery, who seemed more accustomed, as Jolles once said, to giving commands than to negotiating compromises.

The news media usually ignored the existence of the IAEA. However, one appointment to the Agency caught their attention for a brief period, namely that of Vyacheslav Molotov as Soviet Ambassador and Resident

Representative to the Agency. Molotov had been Stalin’s Foreign Minister who subsequently appointed him Prime Minister of the Soviet Union.

Molotov arrived in Vienna in 1960 and returned to Moscow some

18 months later. He had served for three years as Ambassador to Outer

Mongolia and had asked Khrushchev for a transfer to a European capital.

Khrushchev, who did not want Molotov back in Moscow, readily agreed. The

Soviet Foreign Ministry had informally proposed to the Netherlands that

Molotov be appointed Ambassador in The Hague, but the Netherlands

Government had refused to give their agrément; hence the posting to the

IAEA, where no agrément had to be sought.



P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 5

T h e B o a r d a n d t h e D i r e c t o r G e n e r a l a t o d d s

From February 1955 until October 1957 there had been noteworthy co-operation between leading governments in creating the Agency and drawing up its Initial Programme — in the eight- and then in the twelve-nation negotiating group, in the Statute Conference and in the Prepcom. Wide differences of perception of the Agency’s mandate now began to emerge, and they were exacerbated by renewed and growing East/West tensions. It was soon obvious that the path of the Board would not be smooth. Ralph Bunche, the well known and highly regarded Under Secretary General of the United

Nations, who represented the UN at the IAEA on a number of occasions, remarked that the Cold War raged more violently in the IAEA Board than in the UN itself.

One reason was the US decision to impose an American Director

General on the IAEA despite Soviet objections, and Soviet concern that the

IAEA would be run as an instrument of US policy. Cole’s own idiosyncrasies did not make his task any easier. Given the authority he had possessed as

Chairman of the Joint Committee of the US Congress on Atomic Energy, it was perhaps natural that he should regard himself as a leader rather than a servant of the IAEA’s Member States. He had little direct experience in administration or diplomacy, he was impatient of protocol and diplomatic conventions, a trait that did not always endear him to the ambassadors with whom he had to deal, and he sometimes had difficulty in selecting the right issues on which to make a stand. He was not popular with economy minded

Western European delegations, who were annoyed by US insistence that he should receive a salary and perquisites second only to those of the Secretary

General of the United Nations and were alarmed by his penchant for launching, or trying to launch, what they regarded as costly projects that had little to do with the mandate of the IAEA.


The heads or representatives of European nuclear energy agencies also held against him his ignorance of nuclear science.

Nonetheless, Cole’s many years in Congress as Chairman of the powerful

Joint Committee had given him considerable insight into the international politics of nuclear energy. Moreover, no other appointment “could provide so much assurance of Congressional support during the first critical years of the agency.”


And he was not in the least a tool of Washington. For instance, he was highly critical of the numerous agreements that the USA concluded in the late 1950s for providing bilateral nuclear aid to friendly countries and thereby undercutting what was supposed to be one of the IAEA’s chief functions,


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A and he demanded a change in US policy.


His nickname, ‘Stub’ (believed to stand for stubborn), suggested a determined and aggressive character and he showed his indifference to the policies of his own Republican Administration by inviting Robert Oppenheimer to visit the IAEA, despite the fact that the

USAEC, influenced by Senator McCarthy and the prevailing virulent anticommunism, had suspended Oppenheimer’s security clearance. To Cole’s credit he also succeeded in building up the IAEA’s establishment, surmounting resistance by Western and Eastern European members of the Board. He tried hard to bring IAEA safeguards into operation and he fought with the US

Administration (and lost) on the issue of IAEA versus EURATOM safeguards described in Chapter 8.


Cole was unlucky in his timing. The unanimous agreement on the

IAEA’s Statute on 23 October 1956 was one of the many products of the relative international calm that had followed the death of Stalin and the armistice in Korea. A few days later, the invasions of Suez and Hungary shattered this calm. In late 1957, the launching of Sputnik led many in the USA to fear that the Soviet Union was winning the battle of advanced technology (in fact the

USSR remained essentially defenceless against a US air attack until the end of the 1950s


). In 1958–1959, the Berlin crisis erupted and in May 1960 the

Soviet Union shot down the U-2 ‘spy plane’. In April 1961, the USA suffered a humiliating fiasco at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba, and in August 1961 another crisis erupted when East Germany began building the Berlin Wall. These events reflected deteriorating East/West relations and cast their shadow on the proceedings of the IAEA’s Governing Bodies.

It was also becoming abundantly clear that the idea of the IAEA serving as a nuclear material ‘bank’ or ‘pool’ for the supply of such materials would not work.


Under Articles IX.C and F of the Statute, each Member State was to notify the IAEA in a timely manner of the nuclear materials it was prepared to make available. At the request of the IAEA the State would, without delay, deliver specified material to another member or to the IAEA. As soon as it could do so the Secretariat diligently asked all Member States known to be producers of fissile or source material about the amount and composition of the materials they would put at the IAEA’s disposal. As noted above, the USA had already declared that it would make available 5000 kg of contained uranium-235 and would match the amounts that other States made available before 1 July 1960, the USSR had pledged up to 50 kg and the United

Kingdom 20 kg. Some other States (Canada, India, Portugal, South Africa and

Sri Lanka) responded with offers of source material.


But with some minute


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 5 exceptions none of this material was physically transferred to Vienna, the

IAEA never felt the need to acquire facilities for storing nuclear material, and no guards were recruited.


When, from time to time, a Member State would ask the IAEA to arrange for the supply of a research reactor and its fuel, or several years later, when, as we have noted, Mexico and Yugoslavia asked the IAEA for the same service in procuring power reactors, the IAEA played the role of broker between governments rather than that of the primary supplier foreseen in the

Statute. But even the IAEA’s brokering role came to little. In part, this was because nuclear power took off much more slowly than expected,

14 but also because it was simpler, quicker and no more costly for the importer to deal directly with the supplier. In the Mexican and Yugoslav cases the States preferred, probably for political reasons, not to buy direct from a superpower, but rather to resort to the legal fiction of obtaining US made plants from the


Under Article XIV.F, any profits (“excess of revenues”) the IAEA made from its role of nuclear supplier or broker and any voluntary contributions it received were to be placed in a “General Fund”. This was to be used as the

Board and General Conference decided (Articles XIV.E and F). There was, however, no occasion for the IAEA to levy charges for nuclear services, and the IAEA failed to earn any excess revenues from this source. Hence the IAEA made no attempt to prepare the scale of charges that it was enjoined to draw up. But the General Fund was established and voluntary contributions were sought, firstly to meet the cost of the fellowships that the Prepcom had included in the 1958 budget. Such voluntary contributions were to become the main continuing source of cash for the IAEA’s technical assistance programme.

However, in the late 1950s and early 1960s it was not the failure of the

IAEA’s functions as a ‘pool’ or ‘bank’ or supplier of nuclear material that inflicted the most serious blow on the organization, on its safeguards operation and eventually on Cole himself. For a variety of reasons, the Agency’s chief patron, the USA, chose to arrange nuclear supplies bilaterally rather than through the IAEA. One reason was that the IAEA had been unable to develop an effective safeguards system. Another was that in a bilateral arrangement it was the US Administration, under the watchful eyes of

Congress, that chose the bilateral partner rather than leaving the choice to an international organization that would have to respond to the needs of any

Member State whatever its political system, persuasion or alliance. But the most serious setback came in 1958 when, for overriding political reasons, the



USA chose the bilateral route in accepting the safeguards of EURATOM as equivalent to — in other words as an acceptable substitute for — those of the

IAEA. The far-reaching implications of this decision will be explored later.

When Cole arrived in Vienna on 4 December 1956 to take up his four year appointment, Paul Jolles still controlled virtually all the Secretariat. He continued to be in charge of all non-technical operations until his departure in 1961

15 and he also kept his hand firmly on the most rapidly growing programme of the Agency, namely, technical assistance.


It was probably inevitable that relations between the former master of the IAEA, still on the bridge, and the new captain would not be easy, but the strain in their relations was sharpened by differences in temperament. Jolles was a cool-headed, experienced and polyglot diplomat, enjoying the respect and confidence of his colleagues, while Cole was a blunt, no-nonsense, monolingual politician.

Sensing the strain, Brian Urquhart, who had been Jolles’ second in command in the Prepcom secretariat, decided to return to New York.

It was also soon obvious that certain members of the Board of Governors and, indeed, the Chairman himself wanted to keep the American Director

General on a very short leash and to remind him that he was “under the authority of and subject to the control of the Board of Governors” (Article

VII.B of the IAEA Statute). For instance, in June 1958 the Board decided that the Director General should submit a written report every two months “on all major developments in the Agency’s work” (in effect, in the Secretariat’s work), an uncongenial task since there was still very little to report.


The delegations of Czechoslovakia, India, Egypt and some other members of the

Board, referring to another phrase in Article VII.B of the Statute requiring the

Director General to “perform his duties in accordance with regulations adopted by the Board,” proposed that the Board should set about drafting a compendium of such regulations. After prolonged discussions the majority of

Governors concluded that what the Statute had in mind were the staff regulations, financial and other standing regulations of the Agency and not a set of rules uniquely designed to govern the conduct of Mr. Cole!

During the first few years hardly any matter could be discussed without provoking lengthy, ideologically tinged, arguments. On the proposal of several

Western delegations, but against the spirited opposition of India and the

Soviet Union and its allies, it was decided that the Board should normally meet in private and that its records should be classified. The minority argued that this lack of what would now be called transparency, was undemocratic and contrary to the practice of the United Nations and most of its agencies.


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 5

On the second point they were certainly correct. On the other hand, meeting behind closed doors eventually helped the Board to shorten its sessions and to develop into an effective executive body in which decisions were taken reasonably promptly without too many ‘grandstanding’ statements designed to win public support rather than to contribute to a serious debate.

Another apparently innocuous issue was the granting of ‘consultative status’ to non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Such status would give these organizations the right to be represented at certain meetings of the

Agency and bring their views to the IAEA’s attention. The United Nations

Economic and Social Council had drawn up complex rules to govern the grant of such status to NGOs interested in its work. In response to a US proposal at the first General Conference, the Secretariat drew up a simpler scheme to enable it to tap the expertise of bodies such as the International

Commission on Radiological Protection, the first body to set internationally accepted limits to radiation exposure, while keeping out organizations with only a politically partisan axe to grind. The Board approved the rules and granted consultative status to 19 organizations, including the International

Confederation of Free Trade Unions and the International Federation of

Christian Trade Unions, both of which proclaimed an interest in protecting workers against radiation exposure.

Trouble began in early 1959 when the Board received an application by another international labour organization, the World Federation of Scientific

Workers (WFSW), a body that the USA and some other Western countries regarded as a mouthpiece of the extreme Left. It was said that the WFSW had accused the USA of dropping poisoned flies on North Korea during the

Korean War (a charge first levelled by Yakov Malik, Soviet delegate at the

United Nations Disarmament Commission in March 1952).


After the majority of Governors had rejected the application by the WFSW, the Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact countries successfully blocked all further grants of consultative status. After nearly two years of argument the impasse was eventually solved by a tacit agreement to abandon the entire procedure for granting such status.


A heated discussion also flared up on the issue of whether to invite

EURATOM to send an observer to the second General Conference, the Soviet

Union contending that “ argument could cancel the military character of

EURATOM...” By a vote of 15 to 3 the Board decided to issue the invitation.


And although the creation of the Division of Safeguards had been approved by the General Conference when it adopted the Agency’s ‘Initial Programme’,


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A the Board held no less than 25 meetings on the issue of whether to recruit the first staff for the Division. When one reads the records of the first Board,

Cole’s impatience with the way in which it sought to micromanage the IAEA becomes more understandable. The continuing and often barren polemics in the Board caused it to hold 84 meetings between October 1957 and the end of

June 1958 and 72 during the next 12 months.


Nonetheless, a good deal was achieved. By early summer 1958, the

IAEA had appointed all its key staff. To help the Agency get down to work the USA offered the services of 20–30 consultants, $125 000 towards a fellowship fund, a radioisotope laboratory as well as two mobile laboratories and a small reactor (the latter offer was not taken up).


In 1958, 13 Member States offered a total of 140 subsidized or fully paid fellowships.


By September

1958, when the second session of the General Conference opened, almost all technical programmes were at least nominally under way and co-operation agreements were in force or awaiting formal approval with the FAO, WHO,

UNESCO, WMO and ILO and the UN Expanded Programme of Technical

Assistance (EPTA).


From 1 to 13 September 1958 the United Nations convened a second and much larger ‘Geneva Conference’. As noted in Chapter 6, Sigvard Eklund, the future Director General of the IAEA, served as its Secretary General. The

IAEA’s contribution was very modest: two technical papers and some scientific staff.


The ice had been broken in 1955 and by the time of the second

Geneva Conference there was less to disclose and not much left to declassify; the USA and the United Kingdom published for the first time all the results of their research on thermonuclear fusion, a field that had first been brought to the public’s attention by the eminent Soviet physicist Igor Kurchatov in a lecture at Harwell two years earlier. In general, the Conference showed that the optimism of the early 1950s about the prospects for cheap nuclear power was beginning to flag.

At the end of 1958, the IAEA established a standing Scientific Advisory

Committee (SAC) identical in composition with that appointed by Dag

Hammarskjöld to oversee the scientific organization of the 1955 and 1958

Geneva Conferences. SAC was destined to play a large role in running the

IAEA’s technical programmes until 1988, when it made way for more focused guidance on specific programmes by small specialist advisory groups.

Amongst the leading scientists who were members of SAC and thus exercised a powerful influence on the IAEA’s earlier programmes were its long-time chairman, W.B. Lewis of Canada, well known for his part in developing the


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 5

CANDU reactor, Sir John Cockcroft of the United Kingdom, Isidor Rabi of the

USA (Nobel Prize winner in physics and one of the architects of the Manhattan

Project), as well as three Governors whose names have already been mentioned

— Homi Bhabha of India, Bertrand Goldschmidt of France and Vassily

Emelyanov of the Soviet Union, and the energetic and creative Secretary, Henry

Seligman (the IAEA’s Deputy Director General for Research and Isotopes).

In September 1958, the General Conference decided, despite the hesitations of some Western Europeans and the strong opposition of the USSR, that the IAEA should construct a ‘functional’ laboratory in Austria. The Board approved the plans for the laboratory in April 1959. It was to be located at

Seibersdorf, 33 km southeast of Vienna, and adjacent to the Austrian national nuclear research centre operated by the Studiengesellschaft für

Atomenergie which put the laboratory site at the IAEA’s disposal for a nominal fee. The USA donated $600 000, thus matching the amounts set aside in the IAEA’s 1959 and 1960 budgets to build and equip the laboratory.


The headquarters laboratory and its successor at Seibersdorf also received numerous gifts of equipment from other Member States.

The tasks that the laboratory undertook in its early years included:

— Analyses of samples contaminated by radioactive fallout from the testing of nuclear weapons,

— Preparation of international radioactive standards,

— Calibration of equipment for measuring radioactivity,

— Quality control of special materials used in nuclear technology,

— Measurements and analyses in support of the IAEA’s health and safety and safeguards work,

— Services to Member States using the facilities installed to carry out the foregoing tasks.


The Seibersdorf laboratory came into operation in 1961 and in January

1962 it distributed its first set of radioactive samples to other laboratories and to hospitals and clinics in Member States to enable them to calibrate their radiation measuring instruments.


T h e I A E A a n d t h e b a n n i n g o f n u c l e a r t e s t s

During the late 1950s there was mounting pressure by the general public and by many scientists for a total stop to nuclear testing. Concern focused


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A especially on the bone seeking radioisotope strontium-90, which nuclear tests injected into the atmosphere and which eventually found its way into the food chain. Since strontium-90 partially replaces calcium in milk, it was seen as a potential cause of childhood cancers.


The tragic fate of the crew of the

Japanese fishing boat Lucky Dragon, victims of fallout from the ‘Bravo’ test of a hydrogen bomb on 1 March 1954 on Bikini Atoll, was perceived as a dramatic demonstration of the dangers of continued testing.


Later that year, at the tenth session of the United Nations General Assembly, India called for an immediate suspension of all nuclear tests.


Throughout the mid-1950s, testing remained a subject of sharp international debate and a political issue in the

USA itself which, after much internal discussion, declared an unlimited moratorium on nuclear tests on 31 October 1958 (the Soviet Union had already announced a moratorium more than half a year earlier, in March 1958).

In July 1958, in one of the most important developments in post-war arms control, the Soviet Union and the West undertook the task of drawing up a treaty banning all tests. From 1 July 1958 to 21 August 1958, a conference of experts from eight nations met in Geneva to discuss the feasibility of detecting underground tests.


In a precursor of discussions that were to take place nearly forty years later they proposed an extensive land and ship based monitoring system and the use of weather reconnaissance aircraft to sample the air for radioactivity. They also proposed the creation of an ‘international control organ’ as one of the steps needed to launch and support the system.

It appeared that the IAEA was the logical organization to verify a commitment to stop testing — “to assume the inspection function. It was the only global atomic authority in existence.” Its Statute endorsed the principle of international inspection. It had safeguards personnel ready to go into action.

The developing countries would “welcome an opportunity to subject the nuclear powers to a form of reciprocal control” and “the cost of setting up an entirely new organ would involve a great deal of wasteful duplication.”

However, it was not to be. In the 1960s, the Western nations and particularly the USA were insistent that the IAEA should concern itself only with peaceful nuclear activities and verification of a ban on testing was not, in their view, a peaceful activity.


For reasons that have not been very well articulated but are obviously not the same as those put forward by the West in 1958, the negotiators of the

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) approved by the United Nations

General Assembly in 1996 decided not to entrust the IAEA with the task of verifying the Treaty.


However, the Treaty does enjoin close co-operation


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 5 between the organization to be set up to oversee the execution of the Treaty

(the CTBTO) and thus holds out the possibility of a close IAEA/CTBTO working relationship.


T h e f i r s t s a f e g u a r d s

Despite the resistance of the Soviet Union and several developing countries, led by India, the Western members of the Board were able in 1959 to get the IAEA’s safeguards operation under way on a small and hesitant scale — the application of safeguards to the three tons of natural uranium that Canada had supplied to Japan. In 1961, after much debate, the Board approved the first rudimentary safeguards system for research reactors, i.e. reactors not larger than 100 MW(th). The evolution of the system is discussed in greater detail in

Chapter 8.

P o l i c y f o r m a t i o n

We have seen that under the IAEA’s Statute, most major political and administrative decisions are to be taken by the Board or jointly by the Board and the General Conference. In 1959, the Board established standing committees on the budget and programme and on technical assistance, and short lived ad hoc committees on subjects such as nuclear supplies, negotiations with the specialized agencies, permanent headquarters and non-governmental organizations. Since 1959, the Board has not established any new standing committees to provide it with expert advice.


Member States, especially the major powers, exert a decisive influence over the IAEA’s policies and actions, especially where politics are concerned.

They do this collectively at the meetings of the Board and the General

Conference and their committees and even more effectively in daily individual contacts with the Director General and his staff. Ironically, there is no area in which this was done more persistently than in the one that the Statute explicitly stipulates as the exclusive preserve of the Director General, namely the appointment of staff. Almost from his first day in office Cole was put under pressure by Member States to appoint their own citizens and by developing

Member States to increase the proportion of staff, especially senior staff, from their own group of countries. For all senior appointments (Deputy and

Assistant Directors General and Directors of Divisions) the Board required the Director General to consult it before making a formal appointment.



As the Statute requires, the Board submits the IAEA’s budget and annual report to the General Conference, but in practice it does so on the basis of drafts prepared by the Secretariat, normally in informal consultations with the members of the Board, who indicate what scope of activities and expenditures the Board will accept (almost invariably less than those originally proposed by the Secretariat).

The ‘Initial Report’ of the Prepcom formed the basis of the IAEA’s first technical programmes, but a pattern soon emerged for their further development. The Secretariat would prepare proposals for a particular technical activity or project, such as a set of international safety codes. The

Director General, on the advice of the technical Department or Division concerned, would appoint a group of experts, usually after consulting the

Member States from which the experts were to be drawn, to study and discuss the Secretariat’s proposals. The results of this process would be incorporated in the programme and budget that the Director General would submit to the Board. SAC would also review annually the scientific programme of each Department and, in particular, proposals for scientific meetings and for the support of research. In due course the Director

General appointed standing technical committees to monitor particular aspects of the programme (e.g. safety standards, guides and manuals, nuclear waste management, safeguards and technical co-operation).

Eventually, as we have noted, these specialist groups and ad hoc meetings of senior experts replaced SAC itself when the appointments of its members expired in September 1988.

In this way the Secretariat came to take the initiative for most of the

IAEA’s technical work. But Member States frequently came forward with their own proposals, during the meetings of the Board or the General

Conference, in technical committees or in discussions with the Secretariat.

Although most committees are nominally advisory to the Director General, the reality is that they were chosen by him with the object of securing recommendations that were likely to influence the views of governments rather than his own views. The Board also established special committees of representatives of Member States to draw up major policy documents such as the safeguards systems of the 1960s and of 1970–1971 (for the NPT).

While, according to the Statute, the Director General is “under the authority of and subject to the control of the Board” he has become not only the IAEA’s “chief administrative officer” as the Statute puts it, but in effect the

IAEA’s chief executive.


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 5

An able Director General has great power to influence the course steered by an international body like the IAEA. His ability to guide policy decisions usually increases with length of service; delegates come and go, he usually stays. The Director General can be most effective when determining the organization’s response to an emergency and least influential where a group of leading countries decides on a hard and inflexible line, for instance when the leading donor countries collectively decide that there will be no growth in the organization’s budget.

T h e e l e c t i o n o f a n e w D i r e c t o r G e n e r a l

By the time Cole’s term of office neared its end the IAEA was helping several developing countries to use isotope and radiation techniques and was doing useful work on nuclear safety and in promoting the exchange of nuclear information. But, partly because of the USA’s own actions, none of the three main functions (nuclear supplier, guardian of the peaceful use of nuclear energy, nuclear power promoter) that Eisenhower had foreseen for the IAEA had borne fruit. By vigorously promoting numerous bilateral co-operation agreements, the USA had bypassed the organization that it had done so much to create, and by accepting EURATOM safeguards it had excluded the IAEA from the region of the world where, other than in the USA itself, nuclear power seemed most likely to flourish. Even the IAEA’s role as the international clearing house for nuclear information was partly pre-empted by the

United Nations when, on the proposal of the USA, it convened the first and second Geneva Conferences.

To some observers the IAEA seemed to have become little more than a means of meeting certain rather low priority needs of the more technically sophisticated developing countries, and even here it faced competition from established United Nations agencies. It was asked whether it had really been sensible to set up an elaborate new international body chiefly to provide services that existing agencies were capable of offering and, in some cases, had already begun to provide. The only faint sign that better days might be in store was that the IAEA now had a rudimentary safeguards and inspection system, that one State, Japan, had brought IAEA safeguards into operation, and that one or two others might soon follow suit.

In June 1961, the main item on the Board’s agenda was the appointment of the Director General. As an American, Cole could hardly expect Soviet support, as a former Republican congressman he could not expect political support


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A from the Kennedy Administration, nor was he popular with the Western

Europeans. Jolles, highly regarded by all political groups, might have been a non-contentious choice as Cole’s successor, but he had accepted a senior position in the Swiss Government.

The USA decided that this time it would be best to follow the plan that had been informally agreed and then abandoned in 1957 and select a neutral scientist as Director General. With strong support from the West the USA pressed for the appointment of Sigvard Eklund, who was highly regarded by the European nuclear establishment and who had served with distinction as

Secretary General of the Second Geneva Conference.

But having acquiesced to an American in 1957, the Soviet Union considered that it was now time for a Socialist Director General. At first, it pressed the idea of a ‘Troika’ (under a Bulgarian Director General), much like the troika it was proposing to the United Nations in the search for a successor to Dag Hammarskjöld. When that failed the Soviet Union joined a group of African and Asian States in support of the candidacy of the

Indonesian Ambassador (Indonesia, under Sukarno, having close ties with

Socialist governments). The matter eventually came to a vote in the

General Conference, which confirmed the Board’s choice of Eklund by a vote of 46 to 16 with 5 abstentions. Emelyanov then walked out of the conference hall, announced that the Soviet Union would have no contact with Eklund, and that he personally would neither speak to him nor answer his letters.

What was the key to this behaviour? By now the Soviets were describing safeguards, the IAEA programme of prime importance to the West, as a spider’s web designed by the capitalists to throttle the nuclear progress of the developing countries. It seemed as though the Soviet Union had concluded that the IAEA was of little use to it, except as a political stage on which it could side with the more radical developing countries. Soviet relations with the USA were also reaching their nadir, the worst storm of the Cold War was brewing in the Caribbean, and in this charged atmosphere there was no incentive for the Soviets to support a candidate who enjoyed the favour of the USA.

Whatever the reason for Emelyanov’s attack on Eklund, Soviet hostility quickly vanished and in due course the Soviet Union came to value Eklund highly. He had full Soviet support when he was reappointed in 1965 and again in 1969, 1973 and 1977, and the Soviet Union might have backed him for a further term if he had made his services available in 1981 when he retired to become Director General Emeritus of the IAEA.


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 5

1 9 6 1 – 1 9 8 1 : T h e I A E A c o m e s o f a g e

During the years 1961 to 1981, all the main programmes of the IAEA reached maturity. At the same time orders for nuclear power plants rose rapidly and then, in the West, began to level off; the nuclear non-proliferation regime was firmly established and began to play an important role in international politics and the flow of assistance to enable developing countries to use nuclear techniques grew from $2 286 000 in 1961 to $24 449 000 in 1981.


The same period saw a substantial growth in the IAEA’s work relating to nuclear safety.

The appointment of Eklund marked the beginning of a climate change in the affairs and fortunes of the IAEA, but the definitive alteration of course had to wait until 1963, when the Soviet Union spectacularly revised its attitude to IAEA safeguards, a development examined in greater detail in

Chapter 8. From the start, safeguards had been one of the main, if not the principal, tasks of the IAEA in the eyes of the USA and of some other Western

States. The signal in 1963 that the other superpower, the Soviet Union, had now come to share this perception foreshadowed a major realignment in the policies of the industrialized world as a whole and in the way in which the affairs of the IAEA would be conducted. This led to changes in the pattern of co-operation in other activities of the Agency and helped it to evolve into one of the most effective international organizations. Moreover, for most of the next two decades the lead would be given by Washington and Moscow acting in concert.

In the 1960s, concern grew that nuclear weapons would spread around the world. There were several grounds for apprehension: the Cuban missile crisis; the addition in 1960 and 1964 of two States to the nuclear weapon club; the proposals in NATO for a multilateral nuclear armed force; the half-secret discussions between French, German and Italian politicians suggesting that

Germany and Italy might also acquire the bomb,

38 and rumours that Israel was about to do so. President Kennedy spoke of the possibility of 15–25 nuclear weapon States by the mid-1970s, and think-tanks and serious authors, concerned about the fate of mankind, painted similar or even darker pictures.

The reaction was a growing determination to halt the spread of nuclear weapons and some confidence that it could be done. It became clear that

IAEA safeguards could be a significant part of this effort.

The 1970s also saw a sudden upturn in the prospects for nuclear power characterized by a stream of orders for nuclear power plants, first in North



America, then in Europe and then, more tentatively, in the developing world.

In 1964, construction of the first nuclear power reactors in a developing country began at Tarapur and in Rajasthan in India. The improvement in the prospects for nuclear power also brought new opportunities and more work for those units in the IAEA dealing with the major uses of nuclear energy and safety, but it also deepened concern in certain countries about the likelihood of nuclear proliferation.

The 1970s confirmed the role of the IAEA as the chief international instrument for verifying non-proliferation. But several issues had first to be resolved. Would the USA and the USSR and other members of the Eighteen-

Nation Disarmament Committee (ENDC) be able to bridge their differences on the need for and the content of a non-proliferation treaty? If so, would the treaty gain enough international support to bring it into force? Would the

IAEA be able to agree on a standard safeguards agreement and could it do so in time to enable the parties to comply with the strict timetable set by the treaty? And if so, would the leading industrial non-nuclear-weapon States ratify the treaty and accept these safeguards? Eventually, the answer to all these questions was ‘yes’.


But in the meantime there had been some severe shocks to the non-proliferation regime.

E k l u n d c h a n g e s t h e I A E A ’ s c o u r s e

In May 1996, Sigvard Eklund was the keynote speaker at a symposium celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.


Alvin Weinberg, for many years the Director of the Laboratory, summed up

Eklund’s contribution to the IAEA: He was the man who took over the

Agency when it was still an experiment of uncertain outcome and turned it into a major force for international security.

Eklund began his long stewardship by changing the Agency’s course.

Reflecting his personal and professional inclinations, he sought to stress the scientific and technical character of the IAEA’s work. He was soon helped in this by U Thant, the new United Nations Secretary General, who did not share his predecessor’s interest in nuclear energy and who agreed that the

IAEA should have responsibility for the scientific aspects of the 1964 (third)

Geneva Conference. In 1964, the Board of Governors also accepted Eklund’s proposal to establish a centre for theoretical physics in Trieste

41 and to set up a joint Division with the FAO to promote the use of nuclear techniques in food and agriculture. Other scientific landmarks of Eklund’s early years


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 5 at the IAEA were an agreement with Monaco to extend the duration and scope of the IAEA’s laboratory in the Principality, which was studying the effects of radioactivity on life in the sea,

42 and the expansion of the IAEA’s laboratory at Seibersdorf. Several able IAEA scientists helped to persuade a hesitant Board to approve these novel international projects, but their success owed much to Eklund’s reputation as a prudent and effective manager.


When the occasional political storm blew up or when wide differences emerged about the IAEA’s policies and practices, Eklund was often content, at least at first, to leave the issue to be settled by the USA and the USSR, and the political structure of the IAEA in the later 1960s was likened to a superpower condominium. With time and increasing political experience, Eklund’s understanding of international politics deepened, his sense of confidence and his command of the IAEA became stronger and the leading members of the

Board increasingly sought his advice or mediation.

Eklund also put an end to some wasteful practices that had crept into the IAEA’s working habits. He eliminated unnecessary paper, cut down staff travel and attendance at conferences outside Vienna and persuaded the Board to dispense with three of the four annual reports that the Secretariat had been required to prepare and the Board to approve, including the burdensome bimonthly report to the Board and the special annual reports to ECOSOC and the General Assembly.

By 1962–1963 the atmosphere in the Board of Governors had begun to improve. Debates became markedly less confrontational and within a few years the heads of national nuclear energy commissions, instead of diplomats accredited to the Austrian Government, formed the majority of Governors.

The annual number of the Board’s meetings shrank to two, of two or three days each, and half-day sessions before and after the General Conference. The

Board had become a reasonably effective executive body, wasting little time on speeches. Eklund deliberately sought to avoid controversy and established the tradition of extensive consultations with missions before each Board meeting so as to secure compromises that would avoid the need for votes and tiresome explanations of votes.

In 1974, the General Conference accepted the Secretariat’s proposal that it should abolish one of its two main committees and fit all its work into one week, usually from Monday to Friday, instead of the best part of two weeks. This was an almost unprecedented self-denying ordinance in the UN family.




T h e s p i r i t o f V i e n n a

In the mid-1960s, it became customary to refer to a ‘spirit of Vienna’ — a benevolent genie that presided invisibly over the Board, the delegations to the IAEA and the Secretariat.

There is little doubt that the atmosphere in the IAEA was unique, at least in those years. Personal relations between delegations and the

Secretariat were as a rule very warm and informal. Russians and Americans,

Arabs and Israelis, Indians and South Africans built up friendships the likes of which were hard to find in New York, Geneva or other cities that were home to UN agencies. One of the reasons was that many of those involved had known each other for many years, in some cases since the Washington negotiations, and had come to have confidence in and to respect one another.

The heads of national nuclear authorities understood each other well as fellow scientists grappling with similar problems. They met regularly but informally in groups like the European Nuclear Society. The IAEA was also the only intergovernmental organization in the city and was still quite small.

The Austrian Government, the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and

Vienna itself, emerging from its post-war shadows, contributed their share of goodwill and ‘Gemütlichkeit’. The spirit of Vienna began to fade a little after the 1976 General Conference in Brazil, which tended to deepen the dividing line between the G-77 and the industrialized countries, and it faded a little more after the IAEA ceased to be ‘the only show in town’ and then moved out of the old city and into the modern and more impersonal surroundings of the

Vienna International Centre (VIC) — a move that was vainly resisted by some senior members of the Secretariat. But the spirit of Vienna lingered on into the

1980s, as Ambassadors Keblúˇsek and Kirk point out in their essays in the companion book to this history, Personal Reflections, and at least some traces of it were left in the early 1990s.

In 1965, the General Conference was held abroad for the first time — in

Tokyo. Japan had once again become a major international power and had done the IAEA an invaluable service by setting in motion the IAEA’s safeguards. Japan’s invitation to the IAEA also marked, more grimly, the twentieth anniversary of the bomb on Hiroshima.

By the end of the 1970s, the Austrian Government and the City of

Vienna had completed the construction of the VIC, which they had offered as the permanent home for the IAEA and other United Nations agencies in

Vienna. In 1979, the IAEA moved out of the ‘temporary’ headquarters in the


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 5

Grand Hotel where it had been housed for some twenty years. Austria generously made the buildings and facilities at the VIC available at the

‘peppercorn’ rent of one Austrian Schilling a year.

A c h a n g i n g B o a r d o f G o v e r n o r s

By 1960 the number and proportion of African and Middle Eastern members of the IAEA had grown considerably but the 1957 Statute allotted

Africa and the Middle East only one elective seat on the Board. To show solidarity with other Africans and to preserve its designation on the Board as the African member “most advanced in the technology of atomic energy including the production of source materials,” South Africa proposed increasing by two the number of seats assigned to the region. In 1961, the Board and the General Conference approved an amendment to the Statute adding two more elective seats to the region and also confirming an informal understanding that Latin America would have three elective seats.


By the late 1960s, the proportion of developing Member States in the total membership had much increased and the Conference of Non-Nuclear-

Weapon States held in Geneva in 1968 was highly critical of the ‘unrepresentative composition’ of the Board. In 1968, the General Conference asked the

Board to review the relevant article of the Statute (Article VI) and early in

1969 the Board set up a committee to do so.

Since it was also clear that the NPT would soon come into force, the

Federal Republic of Germany and Italy foresaw that they might soon be pressed to place their entire nuclear industries under IAEA safeguards. They would thus become two of the four States that would bear the brunt of NPT inspection, the others being Japan and Canada. The Federal Republic of

Germany and Italy each contended that this should justify their having a permanent seat on the Board instead of serving only intermittently as in the past (Japan and Canada had enjoyed what were, in effect, permanent seats since the days of the Prepcom).

Ambassador Roberto Ducci of Italy spearheaded the campaign, proposing a Statute amendment under which the seats allotted to the States “most advanced [in the world] in the technology of atomic energy including the production of source materials” (the criterion for designation) would be increased from five to nine so as to make room for two more ‘permanent’

Western Europeans.


The amendment eventually approved accepted Italy’s proposal to increase the top category from five to nine, reduced the regional


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A leaders from five to three and increased the elective seats from 12 to 22 — a total of 34. The areas covered by two of the eight regions — into which the world was divided for the purpose of constituting the Board — would be changed: the Middle East would be detached from Africa and attached to South Asia

(‘Africa and the Middle East’ would become ‘Africa’, and ‘South Asia’ would become ‘the Middle East and South Asia’).

The Committee, the Board and subsequently the General Conference considered several other proposals but could not reach a consensus. Finally, in 1970 after much hard discussion, the General Conference approved by a majority vote the gist of the Italian proposal.


The only significant opposition to the Italian proposal came from the

Soviet Union and its allies and from South Africa. The Soviet Union was not yet ready to accept the Federal Republic of Germany as a permanent member of the Board, at least not until the Federal Republic had ratified the NPT and accepted IAEA safeguards. Ambassador Georgy Arkadiev, who had now become the Resident Representative of the Soviet Union to the IAEA and whose jovial sense of humour endeared him even to his ideological adversaries, argued stoutly but in vain against the Italian proposal. For its part,

South Africa saw the Italian proposal as the writing on the wall for its permanent seat. As long as the Middle East and Africa formed a single region, the only credible alternative to designating South Africa as the regional

Member State “most advanced in the technology of atomic energy...” was to designate Israel. This would be unacceptable to the Arab members of the

IAEA and to their supporters. However, once the Middle East was detached from the African region, the way would be open to designate another African as an alternative to South Africa, which is what happened in 1977 when the

Board designated Egypt to the African seat.

Italy’s success was relatively short lived. The amendment to the Statute entered into force in 1973. In the early 1980s, the Western Europeans that were not in the top category reached a gentleman’s agreement that the designated seat ‘permanently’ occupied by Italy would henceforth rotate amongst

Belgium, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. In 1983, Italy was replaced by

Belgium as a designated member of the Board.

Deciding which State was the most advanced nuclear nation in a particular region was not always an easy matter. When, for the third time, Argentina challenged the designation of Brazil as the most advanced Member State in

Latin America in 1962, the Board set up a panel of three experts to weigh the evidence and the committee called on both governments to substantiate their


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 5 claims with factual information. The committee came to the Solomonic conclusion that there was “not sufficient basis for stating that either Argentina or

Brazil is the country ‘most advanced’...” In the meantime the two nations had agreed to take turns on the Latin American designated seat on the understanding that when either of the two was not occupying the designated seat, it would hold one of the elective seats assigned to the region. This compromise would commit other Latin Americans to carry out the elective part of the bargain and apparently most of them had concurred in it.


Despite some objections from Mexico this arrangement has been maintained ever since.

When Egypt challenged the designation of South Africa in 1977 the

Board indulged in no such quasi-judicial procedures to determine which of the two nations was “the most advanced in the technology of atomic energy” but took a patently political decision in favour of Egypt — and continued to do so each year until the apartheid government disappeared.

After Chernobyl, Italy abandoned nuclear power and decommissioned its nuclear power plants. The Western Europeans that were most vigorous in contesting the Italian seat in the early 1980s have since either stopped work on the nuclear plants that they were constructing (Spain), or have a de facto or de jure moratorium on any further construction (Belgium, Switzerland) or have decided to phase out those plants they now operate (Sweden). It might be thought that, having turned against nuclear power, the nations concerned would find it embarrassing to be designated to a seat on the IAEA’s Board of

Governors as a leading nuclear State. They show few signs of embarrassment.

But it may be argued that the moratoria and the Swedish ‘phasing out’ reflect the political conclusions of the moment rather than final decisions to abandon nuclear power — in reality, they are decisions to ‘wait and see’.

C h i n a

As already noted, the issue of the representation of China had arisen at every session of the IAEA’s General Conference; the Soviet Union and its allies as well as many non-aligned countries pressing vigorously for the rejection of the credentials of ‘Nationalist’ China and admission of the People’s

Republic. This issue was becoming increasingly divisive as a growing number of Western countries as well as all Socialist countries recognized the

People’s Republic as the legitimate government of China.

The USSR also consistently pressed for admission to the IAEA of the

German Democratic Republic, the People’s Republic of Viet Nam, the



Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, North Korea) and Mongolia, but for several reasons the issue of representation of these countries was less divisive than that of China.

On 25 October 1971, the United Nations General Assembly decided that the Government of the People’s Republic was the only authority entitled to represent China at the United Nations and expelled “ ...the representatives of

Chiang Kai-shek from the place they unlawfully occupy in the United

Nations and in all the organizations related to it.” The Assembly had the legal right to expel the unwanted representatives only from the United Nations itself and not from other United Nations agencies, but the Assembly’s decision was considered to be a recommendation to those agencies.


On 9 December 1971, the Board of Governors took the recommended action in regard to the representation of China at the IAEA. The People’s

Republic itself did not formally react to the Board’s decision until 1983, when it applied and was promptly approved for membership of the IAEA.



1972, the IAEA discontinued all technical co-operation projects and support of research in Taiwan, but with the tacit assent of Beijing continued to apply safeguards to all nuclear material and plant on the island.


T h e G r o u p o f 7 7 f l e x e s i t s m u s c l e s

On 1 June 1973, the second amendment of the IAEA’s Statute came into force. The Board membership rose from 25 to 34, developing Member States now having a slim majority.

In September 1976, the General Conference met in Rio de Janeiro for its third session away from IAEA Headquarters.


For the first time the Group of 77 (G-77) made its weight felt in the IAEA, asking the Board of Governors to review its customary designation of South Africa as the member of the

Board from Africa and, despite strenuous US opposition, deciding to grant observer status to the Palestine Liberation Organization. In June 1977, the

Board decided by a vote of 19 to 13, with one abstention, to uphold the

Chairman’s nomination of Egypt as the Member State in Africa “most advanced in nuclear technology including the production of source materials.”


Egypt’s nuclear programme was very modest and it produced no source materials (i.e. uranium) but worldwide revulsion against apartheid made it politically inevitable that the South African Government would sooner or later lose its seat on the Board. This revulsion also led to the rejection of the credentials of the South African delegation when the General Conference


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 5 met in New Delhi in September 1979. After a democratic government had taken power in Pretoria, South Africa, with Egypt’s concurrence, regained its seat on the Board in 1995.

T h e N P T

After Kennedy became President in 1961, the US Government set up an advisory committee under the chairmanship of Henry D. Smyth to recommend ways of strengthening the IAEA and the policies the USA should follow towards it.


The main conclusion was that the USA should play a more active and positive role in the IAEA and should persuade States receiving US nuclear assistance to accept IAEA instead of US safeguards. The new policy was underlined by the appointment of Smyth as US Governor.


By 1963 the international environment had improved. After narrowly avoiding nuclear war over Cuba in October (or so it seemed at the time) the

USA and the USSR drew back into détente. An early product of their less hostile relationship was agreement to connect a ‘hot line’ between Moscow and Washington. More important by far was the conclusion in 1963 of the

Limited Test Ban Treaty, co-sponsored by the USA, the USSR and the United


Since October 1958, Ireland had been eloquently recommending to the

United Nations General Assembly the early conclusion of a treaty to prevent the “wider dissemination of nuclear weapons”. In January 1964, the USA and the USSR each proposed an agenda for the ENDC in Geneva. Their proposals had four subjects in common, one of them being a nuclear non-proliferation treaty. By 1965, the USA and the USSR agreed that attention in Geneva should first be focused on this issue and both presented widely different drafts of such a treaty. The US draft included a reference to “International Atomic

Energy Agency or equivalent international safeguards.” By “equivalent international safeguards” the USA clearly meant the safeguards of EURATOM.

This was unacceptable to the Soviet Union, which maintained that EURATOM safeguards amounted to self-inspection by a small group of NATO powers.

Eventually, and after many consultations between the USA and the

EURATOM nations, the USA and the Soviet Union agreed that the treaty should place an obligation on all non-nuclear-weapon States to accept the safeguards of the IAEA, but that the EURATOM non-nuclear-weapon States should have the right jointly to conclude the relevant agreement with the





In the ENDC itself the non-nuclear-weapon States also insisted that the treaty should impose obligations on the nuclear weapon States to end the nuclear arms race and to reduce, and eventually eliminate, their nuclear arsenals and should explicitly recall the commitment of the nuclear weapon

States to seek to ban all nuclear tests.


The leading industrial non-nuclear-weapon States, in particular the

Federal Republic of Germany, Japan and Italy, pressed for formal undertakings that the treaty would not impede economic development, international nuclear co-operation or nuclear trade, nor block their access to advanced nuclear technologies such as enrichment and reprocessing. The developing countries sought assurances that their needs for nuclear technology would be addressed and that they would be able to enjoy whatever benefits might be derived from the peaceful uses of nuclear explosions.


There were clear indications, as the treaty began to take shape, that the

IAEA would at last begin to play a role in strengthening international security.

In September 1967, the President of the 11th General Conference and head of the

Czechoslovak nuclear energy authority, Dr. Jan Neumann, formally affirmed, on behalf of the members of the IAEA, the Agency’s readiness to accept the safeguards responsibilities that the NPT assigned to it — responsibility for verifying that non-nuclear-weapon States party to the treaty were complying with their undertakings not to divert nuclear material to nuclear weapons.


By mid-1968, the demands of the non-nuclear-weapon States had been largely accepted by modifications to and expansion of the draft proposed by the USSR and the USA. After approval by the ENDC and commendation by the General Assembly, the treaty was opened for signature on 1 July of that year.

On 5 March 1970, the requisite number of nations had ratified the treaty and it entered into force. In the words of a keen and sympathetic observer of the IAEA, Professor Lawrence Scheinman, Deputy Director of the US Arms

Control and Disarmament Agency in the mid-1990s, this event “gave the

IAEA a tremendous boost, making it the keystone of the non-proliferation regime, and catapulting it from the periphery to the centre of the international political system...”


The IAEA’s subsequent success in drawing up a radically new safeguards system and model agreement by consensus and in a remarkably short time (April 1970 to March 1971) ensured that the Agency would promptly be able to conclude the agreement with each non-nuclear-weapon State required by the treaty.


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 5

To soften the discriminatory aspect of a treaty that imposed very different obligations on the nuclear and on the non-nuclear-weapon States, and to encourage widespread adherence, the USA and the United Kingdom offered to place all their civilian nuclear plants under safeguards when such safeguards were put into effect in the non-nuclear-weapon States.


Since there was no prospect that the IAEA would have the staff or money needed to safeguard the entire large and still growing civilian fuel cycle of the USA or the substantial fuel cycle of the United Kingdom, it was necessary to devise some criteria by which the IAEA would select particular plants in each country from the long list of those that would become ‘eligible’ for safeguards. This was done on the margins of the meetings of the safeguards committee. The rules for selection were proposed by the Australian Governor, Maurice Timbs.

The Federal Republic of Germany and the other leading industrialized nonnuclear-weapon States let it be known that they endorsed the Timbs criteria under which the IAEA would choose those US and British plants that embodied the most advanced technology or were particularly important for international nuclear trade. The selection should change from time to time so as not to discriminate between competing plants. It was expected that a significant proportion of the plants offered would be selected for full safeguards. In practice the IAEA’s resources never permitted it to select more than a few plants in each nuclear weapon State.

On 14 February 1967, even before the conclusion of the NPT, the Latin

American nations opened for signature the Treaty of Tlatelolco designed to create a nuclear weapon free zone in that region.


As the decade drew to a close an unusual event — the 1968 Conference of Non-Nuclear-Weapon States — showed the growing interest amongst the developing nations in the imminent entry into force of the NPT and their understandable wish to have credible assurances about their immunity from nuclear threat if they were to forego the right to possess nuclear weapons. The chief sponsors of the conference were Pakistan and Yugoslavia and their decision to hold it in Geneva reflected their wish to keep a distance from the

IAEA, which was thought to be too much influenced by the two superpowers.

The first shock to the newly created ‘nuclear non-proliferation regime’ came on 18 May 1974, when India carried out an underground nuclear explosion at Pokharan in Rajasthan. India declared that the aim of the explosion was “with a view to the possible uses of nuclear explosives in mining and earth moving operations.”


A large research reactor supplied by Canada (known as the CIRUS reactor) had been the source of plutonium for the explosion. This


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A was the first (and so far the only) nuclear test that had used fissile material produced by a reactor designed and supplied for use only in ‘peaceful’ research. The Canadians were not mollified by the Indian explanation that the plutonium had been used for a “peaceful nuclear explosion.”


Pakistan raised the matter at the Board’s meetings in June 1974, suggesting that the explosion might have an impact on the IAEA’s technical assistance programme.


All the Governors who spoke, with the exception of the Governor from India, expressed concern about the explosion, but there was no suggestion that the Board should condemn it. The Governor from

India emphasized that his country had not violated any treaty or agreement, but Canada demurred; in its view the test was a breach of the agreement under which Ottawa had supplied the reactor. The Governor from India also maintained that the explosion was an integral part of the Indian Government’s policy of applying nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. India, he said, was opposed to nuclear weapons and nuclear proliferation and the Indian

Government had categorically declared that it did not intend to manufacture nuclear weapons.

At first other reactions abroad were restrained, except in Canada, but eventually the explosion had widespread repercussions. Although India was not a party to the NPT and the CIRUS reactor was not operating under IAEA safeguards, the explosion was seen by some as a challenge to the Treaty and a demonstration that IAEA safeguards were ineffective. It also cast doubt, especially in the USA, on the efficacy of the export controls required by

Article III.2 of the NPT, and it was an important factor in the US decision largely to abandon Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” policy and replace it with the 1978 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act and to launch the exercise known as the ‘International Nuclear Fuel Cycle Evaluation’. The Pokharan explosion also strengthened the growing opposition to nuclear power in several Western countries, where anti-nuclear circles argued that it had shown that the military and civilian uses of nuclear energy were inseparable. These developments eventually affected the work of the IAEA, leading some industrialized nations such as the USA and a few Western Europeans to place greater emphasis on safeguards and less on the promotion of nuclear power.

Two other events sharpened doubts, especially in the USA, about the efficacy of the regime and especially about existing nuclear export controls.

After the Yom Kippur war, the Arab oil boycott and the steep increase in the price of oil persuaded influential American policy makers that nuclear power, now seen by many developing nations as a reliable and cheaper substitute for


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 5 oil, would spread rapidly around the world. This, it was thought, would inevitably lead to a proliferation of reprocessing and enrichment plants and a worldwide plutonium economy. Reports that France and the Federal

Republic of Germany were about to sell reprocessing and enrichment technology to non-nuclear-weapon States not party to the NPT seemed to confirm these fears.

In consequence, the USA and the Soviet Union agreed in Moscow in late

1974 to establish a Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) of governments that were, or were expected to become, exporters of nuclear materials or equipment.

Some fifteen governments first met in London in 1975 and soon became known as ‘the London Club’.


The NSG published its first set of recommendations for more stringent export controls on 21 September 1977 (INFCIRC/254). France, though not a party to the NPT, had agreed to take part in its meetings, provided that they were held behind closed doors, a procedure that deepened the suspicions of several importing countries about the work of the group.

Two of the main NSG Guidelines of 1977 were that exporters should require the application of IAEA safeguards to plants built in non-nuclearweapon States on the basis of transferred technology, and that exporters should exercise restraint in transferring reprocessing and enrichment technology and sensitive materials. In practice, at least until recently, the latter

Guideline has resulted in a complete halt to the authorized export of these technologies (but it did not prevent smuggling abroad of enrichment plant components, as the disclosures about the Iraqi nuclear programme in 1991 and earlier reports on the Pakistani programme were to show). The Guidelines also enjoined exporters to insist on adequate measures for the physical protection of nuclear materials in the importing country and to require that re-exports be made only with the consent of the original exporter.

The NSG Guidelines did not differentiate between non-nuclear-weapon

States party to the NPT and non-parties. Some of the former held that the

Guidelines were incompatible with “the right [of all parties] to participate in the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials, and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy” embodied in Article IV.2 of the NPT. This led to many complaints at the second NPT

Review Conference in 1980.

In 1991 it became clear that Iraq’s clandestine nuclear weapon programme had relied heavily on imports of components for enrichment plants and of equipment that could be used to make such components. It was also clear that most of these imports came from members of the NSG. The NSG


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A agreed that the Guidelines should be made much more watertight. In particular, they agreed that nuclear exports should be made only to non-nuclear-weapon

States that had accepted comprehensive safeguards and that export controls should also be imposed on items of equipment that could have nuclear as well as non-nuclear uses — the so-called ‘dual-use’ items.

But this was much later. In 1977, Jimmy Carter took office as President of the USA. Although he had once served as an engineer in a US nuclear submarine, he had not become enamoured of nuclear power and once referred to it as the energy source of the last resort. He was particularly opposed to the use of plutonium for civilian purposes which, he feared, would lead to a worldwide plutonium economy and rampant proliferation of nuclear weapons. The majority in the US Congress shared the President’s concerns, and Congress enacted the Non-Proliferation Act of 1978 (P.L. 242) that reflected those concerns and went even further along the path of denial, as its critics called it. In effect, the law sought to use the influence of the USA, as the world’s major supplier of nuclear plant and enriched fuel, to limit and eventually put an end to the separation of plutonium and production of high enriched uranium (HEU) for civilian purposes. The policy could hardly avoid being discriminatory since the nuclear weapon States would still need and separate plutonium for their warheads and HEU for their submarines.

Nearly all US nuclear co-operation agreements then in force included a clause requiring the recipient to obtain the prior consent of Washington before reprocessing any spent fuel of US origin or enriching uranium (above a certain level of enrichment), or re-exporting any nuclear item that the USA had supplied. The 1978 Act added new export conditions; for instance:

— As a general rule, there would be no US nuclear exports to a nonnuclear-weapon State unless it accepted IAEA safeguards on all its nuclear material — as non-nuclear-weapon States party to the Treaty were already required to do;


— In the case of new US supplies, IAEA safeguards must be permanent;

— No nuclear material, equipment or sensitive nuclear technology could be exported to any non-nuclear-weapon State that had terminated IAEA safeguards.

Prior consent of the USA must also be sought before the reprocessing, enrichment or re-export of any nuclear material produced by the use of US equipment.


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 5

In effect, the Act called for the renegotiation of almost all existing US nuclear co-operation agreements.

The Act was taken to mean that applications for prior US consent to reprocessing would be examined on a stringent case-by-case basis and that the USA would no longer give any other country a general or automatic authorization to reprocess fuel of US origin.


On 19 October 1977, President Carter convened an international conference in Washington to launch the ‘International Nuclear Fuel Cycle Evaluation’

(INFCE). The heads of national nuclear energy agencies and other senior officials from some forty nations took part. The President hoped to temper the strong opposition that the new US policy had aroused in other countries that had advanced nuclear power programmes; INFCE would demonstrate, he hoped, that the ‘once-through’ fuel cycle (in which spent fuel is not reprocessed to extract the uranium remaining in the fuel and the plutonium that has been produced in it, but is disposed of as nuclear waste) was the cycle less likely to lead to proliferation, and they would therefore be persuaded to accept the US approach and follow similar policies. The US case was somewhat weakened by the revelation that a Pakistani scientist working in a Dutch firm subcontracted to the gas centrifuge enrichment plant at

Almelo had returned to his country with the plans of the plant and a list of possible suppliers of crucial components. The implication, confirmed later in

Iraq and by the disclosure of the South African programme, was that enrichment rather than reprocessing might be the preferred path to nuclear weapons.

INFCE took place in Vienna from November 1978 and ended in a final plenary meeting on 25–27 February 1980. It was a massive operation. Sixtysix countries took part in at least some of INFCE’s 133 meetings and the

Agency provided a great deal of administrative and technical support, but

INFCE was a US and not an IAEA operation. It was chaired by Professor Abe

Chayes of Harvard University who, despite his strong support for the policy of the Carter Administration, was impeccably impartial and also a very able chairman. INFCE produced a vast amount of documentation but many of its conclusions or assumptions were soon overtaken by events. For instance,

INFCE’s expectations of a rapid expansion of nuclear power, a shortage of uranium and a rise in its price, and the likely early use of the breeder reactor all turned out to be false.

Despite President Carter’s expectations (and, one may add, despite the obvious fact that reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel can directly lead to the acquisition of weapon usable material, while the ‘once-through’ fuel cycle


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A cannot), INFCE conspicuously refrained from identifying any particular fuel cycle as being more ‘proliferation-prone’ than another. INFCE’s fundamental and sensible conclusion was that a national decision to acquire nuclear weapons is essentially political and not dependent on the choice of a particular fuel cycle. But to a considerable extent the US Congress, in the 1978 Non-

Proliferation Act, had pre-empted the conclusions of INFCE.

INFCE also recommended international co-operation in the storage of plutonium to ensure against its misuse, similar co-operation for the long term storage of spent fuel, and long term assurances of nuclear supply linked, however, with effective safeguards against proliferation. INFCE thus led directly to an IAEA study of international plutonium storage, another of long term international spent fuel storage and to the creation of the IAEA Board of

Governors’ Committee on Assurances of Supply.

Regrettably, the net result of these efforts was very modest. It proved impossible to set up an international plutonium storage system,

69 no nation showed an interest in providing storage for other nations’ spent fuel

70 and the

Board’s Committee on Assurances of Supply has little to show for its pains.

In fact, by 1995 some of the problems it set out to solve had changed or disappeared. Nuclear energy had become a buyers’ market, for most countries there was no problem in getting supplies of nuclear fuel or nuclear power plants — on condition, however, that if the importer were in a non-nuclearweapon State, its government must accept comprehensive IAEA safeguards.

All but three importers (India, Israel and Pakistan) and all but one major exporter (China) had accepted that condition.

The results of the March 1987 ‘United Nations Conference for the

Promotion of International Co-operation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear

Energy’, which traced its origins to INFCE, were similarly meagre.


On 28 March 1979, the first serious accident at a nuclear power plant —

Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania — made headlines throughout the world.

The accident and its consequences are discussed in Chapter 8.

In 1980, the parties to the NPT met in Geneva for the second NPT

Review Conference. Two issues dominated the meeting: nuclear supplies and the conclusion of a treaty banning all nuclear tests. The NSG Guidelines and the US Non-Proliferation Act of 1978 attracted sharp criticism from many developing countries and from at least one industrialized country,

Switzerland, which was having difficulty in getting US consent to the reprocessing of US-origin spent fuel. Nonetheless, delegates in the committee dealing with the civilian use of nuclear energy were able to cobble together the


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 5 draft of a consensus report. But no consensus could be reached in the committee dealing with nuclear arms control and disarmament. The non-nuclearweapon States pressed for the prompt negotiation of a comprehensive test ban treaty; the USA and the United Kingdom resisted, and the opposition of two out of the three nuclear weapon States then party to the NPT amounted, in effect, to a veto. The conference ended without a final declaration and amid forebodings about the future of the NPT.

In June 1980, the IAEA’s Committee on Assurances of Supply began discussing how nuclear supplies and services could “be assured on a more predictable and long term basis in accordance with mutually acceptable considerations of non-proliferation” and what the IAEA’s role should be in this context.

The main suppliers sought relatively strict export controls; at a minimum, customer nations should be required to accept IAEA safeguards on all their nuclear

imports from those suppliers and on the nuclear material produced as a result of such imports. The USA, Canada, Australia and the Scandinavian countries went further, requiring comprehensive safeguards as a condition of supply to non-nuclear-weapon States, in other words, safeguards on all nuclear activities in the importing country, whether or not the activities were import dependent.

The importing nations not party to the NPT sought the minimum of restrictions on exports, and some would have been happy to dispense entirely with IAEA safeguards. Even amongst NPT parties there was lingering resentment against the 1978 Non-Proliferation Act, which several saw as an arbitrary demand by the USA for changes in agreed supply contracts and a threat to rupture those agreements if the US conditions were not met.

In September 1979 there was also much concern about what appeared to be a signal indicating a nuclear explosion high over the South Atlantic near

South Africa. A panel set up by President Carter to evaluate the incident concluded that the signal was probably not caused by a nuclear explosion, but some US and British writers still think otherwise.


1 9 6 1 – 1 9 8 1 : A s u m m i n g u p

The scope and range of many of the IAEA’s programmes were clearly defined by the end of 1981 and would not undergo any radical changes during the next 15 years. There would be an almost fourfold increase in the funds available for nuclear assistance (from $16 475 000 to $60 300 000), but the technical range of projects in that programme, and the countries in which it operated, would remain much the same.



Severe shocks were in store, however, for the safeguards and nuclear safety programmes. While the NPT had transformed the role the IAEA would play on the international stage, the safeguards system was still focusing almost exclusively on meticulous accounting for nuclear material in plants that non-nuclear-weapon States party to comprehensive safeguards agreements had declared to the IAEA, and that was therefore under safeguards. As noted, this focus led inevitably to the most intense inspection of those countries where most of the nuclear material was located — the Federal Republic of Germany and other European Union States, Japan and Canada. The disclosure in the early 1990s that Iraq had long been operating undeclared nuclear plants showed that there were serious defects in the system.

The industrialized countries, especially those that had large nuclear programmes, still tended to see the IAEA’s work on nuclear safety as principally of benefit to developing countries. It would take the worst accident in the history of nuclear technology to change their minds and to accept that nuclear safety was a vital international as well as a national responsibility and to use the IAEA as an instrument for enhancing nuclear safety in the industrialized as well as in the developing world.

1 9 8 1 – 1 9 9 7 : Y e a r s o f c h a l l e n g e a n d a c h i e v e m e n t

The most recent period in the Agency’s history saw the end of euphoria about the prospects for nuclear power — euphoria on which the worst accident at a nuclear power plant seemed to set a tombstone — the first violations of IAEA safeguards and the IAEA’s reactions to those challenges, and, most fundamentally, a sea change in the international political environment in which the Agency operates, and, partly as a consequence, confirmation that the NPT and comprehensive IAEA safeguards will remain permanent features of that environment and play a significant role in underpinning international security.

I s r a e l b o m b s t h e Ta m u z r e a c t o r

The year 1981 began well. On 26 February, Egypt, a signatory of the NPT since 1 July 1968, ratified the Treaty. It has been speculated that Egypt withheld its ratification for so many years because of numerous indications that Israel


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 5 was building up a nuclear arsenal and that it ratified the NPT in the expectation that, under US pressure, Israel would do likewise and dismantle its nuclear weapons. But this is surmise and implies a degree of naiveté in Cairo that is hard to credit. In any event, the fact that the leading country in the

Arab world — and in a region of great political tension — had become an

NPT party was good news for the Treaty’s supporters.

But the good news did not last. On Sunday 7 June 1981, Israeli aircraft attacked and destroyed Tamuz 1, the 40 MW(th) materials testing reactor that

France had built for Iraq at the Tuwaitha research centre south of Baghdad.

Israel had apparently long suspected that the Iraqi Government planned to use the reactor to produce material for nuclear weapons, and had made several attempts to dissuade France from supplying it. It was widely believed that

Israeli agents were responsible for blowing up the core of the reactor while it was still in Toulon, awaiting shipment to Iraq, and might have been responsible for the death in Paris of one of the engineers in charge of the project.


The international reaction to the bombing raid was harshly critical of

Israel. It was the first armed attack on a civilian nuclear plant (under IAEA safeguards) and was seen as a breach of a long standing taboo and as an ominous precedent. The Director General and the Board of Governors also interpreted the attack as an assault on IAEA safeguards. On 8 June 1981, the

United Nations Security Council strongly condemned the attack and called upon Israel to pay compensation to Iraq for the damage inflicted and to urgently place all its nuclear activities under IAEA safeguards. The Board, meeting from 9 to 12 June,

74 likewise strongly condemned the Israeli action and asked the General Conference to consider suspending Israel from the exercise of its rights and privileges of membership in the IAEA.


In September 1981, the IAEA General Conference voted to suspend all technical assistance to Israel and decided that at its next session, i.e. in

September 1982, if Israel had not yet complied with the Security Council’s resolution, the General Conference would consider suspending Israel’s rights and privileges of membership. In practice, this would amount to the exclusion of Israel from the Agency.

T h e a p p o i n t m e n t o f a n e w D i r e c t o r G e n e r a l ,

D r . H a n s B l i x

Much of the Board’s time in 1981 was spent, however, debating a completely different subject; the choice of a new Director General to succeed



Sigvard Eklund, who was coming to the end of his fifth term or 20 years in that post.


Eklund had not made himself available for a sixth term; had he done so there is little doubt that he would have had the support of the USSR and many other Member States.

Half a dozen names were put forward as candidates,

77 but, after numerous ballots, the choice became a duel between State Secretary Hans

Haunschild, permanent head of the Federal Ministry for Research and

Technology of the Federal Republic of Germany, who soon had the support of Western delegations, and Domingo Siazon, Ambassador of the

Philippines in Austria and Governor and Resident Representative to the

IAEA, who had the support of most developing countries. But the USSR did not want either. When the issue came to a vote, as it did frequently in the absence of a consensus, the USSR and its allies were able to prevent either candidate from getting the two thirds majority required for appointment. Eventually, as the General Conference came near, the USA sounded the Swedish Government and the latter put forward the name of State

Secretary Hans Blix, who was well known and highly regarded in international circles, not only as an eminent international lawyer but also as a skilled and experienced diplomat.


Blix had also served as Foreign

Minister of Sweden under a previous government and as a defender of nuclear power in a Swedish referendum in 1980. Haunschild now withdrew, but Siazon remained in the ring for another few rounds of voting.

Finally, on the evening of Saturday 26 September, the closing day of the

1981 session of the General Conference and the last day on which the

Conference could take up the matter, Blix obtained the two-thirds majority required. At about eight o’clock on that evening, and on the proposal of

Siazon, the Board appointed Blix by acclamation.


In the early hours of

Sunday morning the General Conference approved the Board’s decision, also by acclamation.


The appointment of citizens of the industrialized countries as the first three Directors General of the IAEA did not escape some sharp criticism by the developing countries. Various undertakings were given to increase the proportion of their citizens in the senior ranks of the IAEA Secretariat and to give favourable consideration to their candidates when Blix completed his first term of service as Director General.


On the proposal of the delegate of India, Homi Sethna, the General

Conference conferred on Eklund, by acclamation, the title of Director General

Emeritus of the International Atomic Energy Agency.



P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 5

T h e a f t e r m a t h o f t h e I s r a e l i a t t a c k

Within a year the tension caused by the Israeli attack on the Iraqi reactor was to put the diplomatic skill of Hans Blix to a severe test. Compliance with the Security Council’s resolution would have required Israel promptly to dismantle the nuclear arsenal that it was widely assumed to possess. By

September 1982, when the General Conference met for its regular annual session, it was clear that Israel had no intention of doing so. In the meantime, the 1982 Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon had further sharpened anti-

Israeli sentiment in the Arab States. On the other hand, both Houses of the US

Congress had adopted a resolution calling for a boycott of any UN body that suspended Israel or rejected its credentials and requiring that the regular contribution of the USA to that body be withheld until it reversed its action. The stage was set for a confrontation.

As the General Conference opened, the Arab States began canvassing a draft resolution condemning the attack and calling upon the Conference to suspend Israel’s rights and privileges of membership. It soon became clear, however, that such a resolution would not get the two thirds majority that the

Statute required for such a decision.


At the last moment, the Arab delegations changed their tactics and began instead to press for the rejection of

Israel’s credentials, a decision that required only a simple majority. The Arab proposal took the form of an Iraqi amendment to the draft resolution on credentials recommended by the Conference’s General Committee approving the credentials of all delegations, including those of the delegation of Israel.


In a roll call vote, the votes on the Iraqi amendment were evenly divided.

The President (Ambassador Siazon of the Philippines) accordingly announced that the amendment had not been carried. At the request of the delegate of

Iraq and on the instructions of the President, the Secretary of the Conference read out the list of countries that had taken part in the vote and the votes that they had cast. At that point the delegate of Madagascar, whose country’s name was not on the list read out, declared that he had been present at the time of the vote and wished to have his vote in favour of the Iraqi amendment recorded.


After a statement by the IAEA’s chief legal officer to the effect that

Madagascar had the right to have its position taken into account, the

President ruled that the vote of the delegation of Madagascar was valid. The

US delegate immediately appealed against the President’s ruling and asked for a roll call vote on his appeal. The appeal was rejected by a majority of three votes. The Iraqi proposal was then adopted by a majority of one. In a


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A further roll call vote the amended resolution, now rejecting the Israeli credentials, was adopted by a majority of two. Thereupon the delegations of the

United Kingdom and the USA walked out of the conference hall, followed closely by most other Western delegations. Before withdrawing from the

General Conference, the US delegate announced that his Government “would reassess its policy regarding United States support for and participation in the IAEA and its activities.”


The USA was (and still is) by far the main supporter of most of the

IAEA’s programmes as well as the largest contributor to its regular budget and technical assistance programme. Its withdrawal from the IAEA would have been the most severe blow that any Member State could inflict on the organization.

The legal advice that had been given to the President of the Conference was certainly questionable, and the substance and timing of the President’s decision and its consequences, in Washington’s view, could hardly have been worse. For instance, the rejection of Israel’s credentials could have served as a precedent for similar action at the UN General Assembly which was about to open.

Nonetheless, in 1981 Iraq was a party to the NPT in good standing, the reactor was under IAEA safeguards and the Israeli attack was the first military strike ever made against a nuclear plant. It had been launched at a time when, in practice if not in law, Israel and Iraq were at peace with each other.

The attack had been condemned by the USA as well as by almost all of the other members of the United Nations. The USA had done more than any other nation to create and sustain the IAEA and it attached great importance to IAEA safeguards. Its willingness to withdraw from the Agency was a measure of the influence of Israel on US foreign policy.


The US withdrawal may well have been intended as a warning to the

Arab States not to try to reject the credentials of Israel’s delegations in the UN and elsewhere.


Paradoxically, however, the Israeli credentials, now rejected, had been issued only for the 1982 General Conference. Once the Conference was over, an hour or less after the USA and other Western delegations had walked out, Israel could operate as usual in the IAEA. The USA, by contrast, withdrew from all participation. Since this was in October, the immediate practical effect was much less than it would have been early in the year. But it was, nevertheless, urgent to get the USA back into the Agency.

With the help of the Chairman of the Board (Ambassador Emil Keblúšek of Czechoslovakia) and the US, Soviet and many other delegations, the


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 5

Director General made strenuous and eventually successful efforts to persuade the US Government to review its decision. The negotiations focused on a statement that Blix would read at the February 1983 meetings of the



On 14 October 1982, Blix sent a letter to all Governors concerning

“the factual and legal situation” in which he affirmed that Israel remained a fully participating member of the IAEA. This apparently succeeded in reassuring Washington and, at the February 1983 session of the Board, after referring to his letter of 14 October, Blix was able to express gratification that the USA had decided to resume its participation in the Agency’s activities.


C h e r n o b y l

In the early hours of 26 April 1986, Unit 4 of the four power reactors at

Chernobyl in Ukraine blew up. The explosion hurled a plume of highly radioactive steam, smoke and dust high into the atmosphere. The pressure tubes of the reactor had ruptured under intense heat and pressure, the graphite moderator in the plant had burst into flames, and hydrogen released by the water–graphite reaction may have caused a second explosion. With the utmost heroism local firemen attempted to extinguish the flames. The radioactive cloud spread first over northern and central Europe, then over western and southern Europe and Turkey, and gradually over all the northern hemisphere, its radioactivity diffusing and decaying as it moved.

In August 1986, the IAEA and the Soviet Union convened an international post-accident review meeting and in September the Director

General’s International Nuclear Safety Advisory Group (INSAG) analysed its proceedings and results. The meeting had been a breakthrough for glasnost, noteworthy for some of the frank and comprehensive reports given by the

Soviet participants and for the free and open discussions that had followed.

A good deal more information about the accident emerged in the next few years and INSAG reviewed its findings in 1992.

The cause and consequences of the accident and the actions that the

IAEA took in response to it are examined in greater detail in Chapter 7, which deals with the IAEA’s work on nuclear safety, and later in this chapter there is a brief reference to the conference, ‘One Decade after Chernobyl’, which the

IAEA, the European Union and WHO convened in 1996 to review the accident. It will suffice to note here that Chernobyl had a profound political and economic effect, helped to discredit the Soviet system, and had a disastrous impact on the local environment and on the mental health of much of the


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A population living in nearby regions of Belarus, Ukraine and European Russia.

It was by far the worst blow ever inflicted on nuclear power; it put an end to nuclear power programmes in several countries and left a deep sense of unease amongst the population, even in many of those countries that continued to build new nuclear power plants. It also led to an immediate surge of support for a major extension of the IAEA’s work relating to nuclear safety, including the prompt negotiation and conclusion of conventions on early notification of a nuclear accident and assistance in the event of such an accident.

T h e C o n v e n t i o n o n N u c l e a r S a f e t y

Since the late 1960s, the IAEA Secretariat had from time to time sought

— in vain — to persuade the nuclear industry of the utility of an international convention on the safety of nuclear power as a means of establishing uniform global standards, allaying public mistrust and promoting nuclear commerce.

As we have seen, Chernobyl led to a more receptive attitude towards proposals for expanding the IAEA’s role in nuclear safety.

In 1992, largely as a result of an initiative taken by Klaus Töpfer, the

German Minister for the Environment, and the support of Director General

Blix, the Secretariat began work on an international convention on nuclear safety and by 1995 the convention was opened for signature. The evolution and main features of the convention are examined in Chapter 7.


o u t h A f r i c a

In December 1982, the United Nations General Assembly called upon

South Africa to stop developing its ability to make nuclear weapons and to place all its nuclear activities under IAEA safeguards. It also requested the

IAEA to refrain from helping South Africa’s nuclear activities and to exclude

South Africa from all IAEA technical working groups. This was to become an annual exhortation by the General Assembly to the Agency and to the nations that were thought to be helping South Africa’s nuclear programmes.


From 1987 until 1990, the Board of Governors and the General

Conference debated whether to suspend South Africa from exercising its privileges and rights of membership in the Agency — a decision that would in practice have put an end to South African participation in the IAEA.


Understandably, the pressure for suspension came chiefly from other African

States. It was resisted by many Western governments, some of which were


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 5 pressing Pretoria to join the NPT, and they argued that suspension of South

Africa would undermine their efforts. There were also numerous meetings between representatives of South Africa and of the three NPT depositary governments at which South Africa was urged to accede to the NPT without further delay.

In June 1987, the Board, overriding Western objections, decided first that the suspension of South Africa’s rights and privileges could be decided by the votes of a simple majority of the members of the Board, and then, by a vote of 22 to 12, with 1 abstention, recommended that the General Conference should proceed with such a suspension.


However, in September 1987, when the time came for the General Conference to take action, there were hints that

South Africa might be changing its policies and might now accede to the NPT.

Accordingly, the General Conference decided to defer its decision for a year.

After further indications that South Africa was considering adherence to the

NPT, the Conference again deferred a decision in 1989 and 1990.


After South Africa had acceded to the NPT on 10 July 1991 and concluded its NPT safeguards agreement with the Agency on 16 September 1991, the General Conference asked the Director General to verify the completeness of the ‘Initial Report’ that South Africa had submitted to the IAEA in accordance with its safeguards agreement, and in which it was required to list all its nuclear plants and nuclear material. The Secretariat was thus faced with the considerable task of verifying, with as much precision as possible, how much enriched uranium South Africa had produced during the previous

16 years, i.e. since the mid-1970s. The task was made easier by the co-operation of the South African nuclear authorities, who provided the IAEA with access and data beyond those required by its NPT safeguards agreement, including all the operating records of South Africa’s previously unsafeguarded enrichment plant, and permitted the IAEA inspectors “to go any place, any time”. In 1992, the Director General reported that the IAEA had found no evidence that the Initial Report submitted by South Africa was incomplete.


In 1993, the President of South Africa, F.W. de Klerk, disclosed that, since 1979, South Africa had constructed six nuclear warheads and that it had dismantled all six in 1989. The disclosure confirmed the earlier suspicions of other African countries — which many Western countries had tended to question — that South Africa had been secretly making nuclear weapons. But

South Africa had also become the first, and was so far the only, nuclear weapon State to scrap its nuclear arsenal. After de Klerk’s statement, the



South African Government invited the IAEA to verify that it had indeed terminated the weapon programme and had dismantled the six nuclear warheads and placed their fissile material — HEU — under IAEA safeguards.

The South African authorities arranged access to all the facilities that had been used in the nuclear weapon programme, including unused test sites and the plant in which the warheads had been assembled. The IAEA team found

“substantial evidence of the destruction of non-nuclear material components used in nuclear weapons indication to suggest” that substantial amounts of depleted or natural uranium used in the programme were missing.


At the NPT Review and Extension Conference in 1995, a reformed

South Africa played a crucial part in securing the decision of the conference to extend the NPT indefinitely.

C h i n a

On 5 September 1983, almost 12 years after the expulsion from the IAEA of the representatives of the Taiwanese authorities, the People’s Republic of

China applied for membership in the IAEA. On 11 October 1983, the General

Conference unanimously approved the application. China became a member on 1 January 1984, when it deposited its instrument of ratification of the

IAEA’s Statute. All States that had significant nuclear activities were now members of the Agency.


In order to provide a seat for China on the Board of Governors without displacing any other Member State, the Board and the General Conference, in

June and September 1984, unanimously approved an amendment to the IAEA

Statute. The amendment raised from nine to ten the number of seats on the

Board that are assigned to the Member States “...most advanced in the technology of atomic energy...”


Without waiting for the amendment to the Statute to enter into force (which it did on 28 December 1989), the Board, in June 1984, designated China as a member in the “most advanced” category.

In 1989, China concluded an agreement permitting the IAEA to apply safeguards to nuclear material in any Chinese plants on a list that it would submit to the Agency.


All five acknowledged nuclear weapon States had thus offered to accept IAEA safeguards on all their civilian nuclear plants, in the case of the USA and the United Kingdom, or on specified plants, in the case of France, the USSR and China.


However, the IAEA’s limited funds permitted it to apply safeguards in only a handful of the offered plants.


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 5

The preamble to China’s 1989 agreement with the IAEA referred to

China’s intention to require safeguards on all its nuclear exports.


China’s nuclear export policy now resembled that followed by several Western and

Eastern European countries before 1990. China had pledged to require safeguards on any nuclear equipment or material that it exported, but it would not make export to non-nuclear-weapon States conditional upon the application of safeguards on all nuclear activities in the importing State. In other words, it would not insist on the comprehensive safeguards required, since the late 1970s, by the USA, Australia and Canada and some other ‘Northern’ countries as a condition of nuclear supply, and which were now required by all other major nuclear exporters.

In 1992, China acceded to the NPT.

G e r m a n y

On 3 October 1990, Germany was formally reunified. The next day,

Bonn informed the IAEA that, following the accession of the German

Democratic Republic to the Federal Republic of Germany, the rights and obligations arising from all agreements to which the Federal Republic of

Germany was party and that were relevant to the IAEA would also relate to the territory of the former German Democratic Republic.


The chief nuclear agreement in this category was that between the IAEA, EURATOM and its non-nuclear-weapon States, which would henceforth supplant the safeguards agreement between the IAEA and the former German Democratic Republic.

In the same year —1990 — at the fourth NPT review conference, Hans

Dietrich Genscher, Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister of the Federal

Republic of Germany, took many of his Western European colleagues by surprise by announcing that the Federal Republic would make comprehensive safeguards a condition of new nuclear supplies to any non-nuclearweapon State. Within the next two or three years all members of the European

Union and Switzerland agreed to follow the same policy. The NSG adopted it as a rule governing future nuclear exports, and it was endorsed by the NPT

Review and Extension Conference in 1995.


In the early 1990s, Germany also contributed significantly to the general tightening of national nuclear export controls. To some extent, this was a reaction to disclosures about the active role that certain German engineers and companies had played in helping Iraq’s clandestine nuclear programme and in other questionable nuclear exports, but Germany was by no means alone


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A in this regard. Germany was also active in the early 1990s in proposing measures to strengthen IAEA safeguards, such as the universal reporting system.

N u c l e a r w e a p o n f r e e z o n e s

In the 1980s, three of the leading countries in Latin America — Argentina,

Brazil and Chile — radically changed their policies concerning non-proliferation and IAEA safeguards. One of the factors that may have helped to cause the change was the advent of democracy and civilian governments in Buenos

Aires, Brazilia and Santiago, but the change had already begun under the former military rulers. Whatever its cause, the change transformed the prospects for fully implementing the Tlatelolco Treaty and thus making Latin

America and the Caribbean countries and their surrounding seas forever free of nuclear weapons and nuclear explosives of any kind.


On 28 November 1990, at Foz do Iguaçú in Brazil, the Presidents of

Argentina and Brazil signed a ‘Declaration on Common Nuclear Policy’ in which they agreed jointly to apply comprehensive bilateral safeguards that would also be subject to international verification. They underlined the symbolic importance of their action by inviting the Director General of the

IAEA to the ceremony attending the signing of the Declaration. In July 1991, the two Presidents signed an agreement

105 establishing a common system and a joint agency for the accounting for and control of nuclear materials — the Brazilian–Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear

Materials, or ABACC. The two nations and ABACC then negotiated a safeguards agreement with the IAEA similar in many respects to that between the IAEA and EURATOM and its non-nuclear-weapon States. The agreement provided for the application of IAEA as well as bilateral safeguards on all nuclear material in all Argentine and Brazilian nuclear activities and on all relevant nuclear exports. The Presidents of Argentina and Brazil came to the IAEA in December 1991 to sign the agreement and subsequently addressed the Board on its significance.


The agreement entered into force in March 1994.


The evolution of the ABACC agreement and the subsequent safeguards agreement with the IAEA suggests that, where two nations have long distrusted one another’s nuclear activities, there must first be a thaw in their political relations before any progress can be made with safeguards of any kind. It may then be necessary for them to reach agreement on intrusive

‘adversarial’ mutual inspections before they are ready to accept international


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 5 safeguards. This may apply to South Asia and the Middle East as well as to

Argentina and Brazil.


On 18 January 1994, Chile became party to the Treaty of Tlatelolco; its comprehensive safeguards agreement with the IAEA required by that Treaty came into force in April 1995.


Chile subsequently acceded to the NPT on

25 May 1995.


Cuba also made known its intention of joining the Treaty and signed it in 1995.


When Cuba ratifies the Treaty and concludes a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the IAEA, the Treaty will come into force for the entire region of Latin America and the Caribbean, including its adjacent oceans, so that it will extend to the eastern and northern borders of the zones covered by the Rarotonga and Antarctic Treaties.

After South Africa had joined the NPT and dismantled its nuclear arsenal the door was opened to a nuclear weapon free zone in Africa. In 1995, as noted later, the African nations, meeting in South Africa, reached agreement on the text of the Pelindaba Treaty, as it was called, and in April 1996 this treaty was opened for signature in Cairo.

In 1995, France completed a series of nuclear tests that had aroused sharp criticism amongst the nations of the Pacific and in some parts of

Western Europe. France then announced that it would carry out no more tests and that it would dismantle its testing facilities on Mururoa Atoll in the South

Pacific. France, the United Kingdom and the USA then signed the Protocol to the Rarotonga Treaty in which they undertook to respect the nuclear weapon free status of the region. The Rarotonga Treaty had been designed as much, if not more, to put an end to nuclear testing in the region as it was to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of the South Pacific nations, none of which has shown any inclination in recent years to acquire them.


With the entry into force of the Protocols to the Treaty it became an effective instrument for achieving both aims.

In December 1995, the ten nations of South East Asia reached agreement on and opened for signature the Bangkok Treaty establishing a nuclear weapon free zone in that region.

In 1985, only a single regional treaty banning all nuclear weapons and all nuclear testing was effectively in force: the Antarctic Treaty of 1959. By the end of 1996, five regional treaties were in force or in the process of ratification

(the Antarctic, Tlatelolco, Rarotonga, Pelindaba and Bangkok Treaties). The

Southern Hemisphere and the lower latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere were on the way to becoming a vast nuclear weapon free zone. A promising


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A approach was in hand for the step-by-step elimination of nuclear weapons.

This may have encouraged initiatives to establish similar zones in Central

Asia, North East Asia and Eastern Europe. But proposals to establish such zones had made little progress in the Middle East and South Asia — the regions that, since the end of the Cold War, had become those in most urgent need of the elimination of the nuclear threat.

I r a q ’ s c l a n d e s t i n e n u c l e a r w e a p o n p r o g r a m m e

In 1991, after the end of the Gulf War, the Security Council requested the

IAEA to verify the elimination of Iraq’s ability to acquire nuclear weapons.

IAEA inspectors gradually unveiled the full extent of Iraq’s large clandestine nuclear weapon programme and its repeated violations of the comprehensive safeguards agreement that, as a party to the NPT, it had concluded with the

IAEA. The fact that Iraq’s nuclear weapon programme had been under way for several years, perhaps a decade, without being detected by the IAEA, led to sharp criticism of the Agency and posed the most serious threat to the credibility of its safeguards since they had first been applied some 30 years earlier. Critics compared the IAEA’s safeguards unfavourably with what they claimed to be the much bolder and more aggressive operations of the special

United Nations commission, UNSCOM, that the Security Council created to monitor the elimination of Iraq’s potential for waging chemical and biological warfare and of its arsenal of longer range missiles. There were proposals in one or two academic journals in the USA to take some or all of the safeguards operation out of the hands of the Agency and transfer it to another international authority such as the Security Council.

The IAEA’s safeguards had been able effectively to monitor all the

declared programmes of the many States that had accepted them. The IAEA reacted vigorously to the challenge posed by Iraq by instituting reforms that made it far better equipped to detect any clandestine nuclear activities that might exist in States having comprehensive safeguards agreements. The

IAEA’s determined and decisive performance in the case of the DPRK put a damper on the criticism of the Agency and, together with the passage of time, seems to have put an end to most proposals for transferring its safeguards responsibilities elsewhere. This question is also discussed in Chapter 12.

Since 1994, the IAEA has kept its inspectors continuously in Iraq

113 and it has completed arrangements for the ongoing monitoring of Iraq’s compliance with the relevant Security Council resolutions.


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 5

Chapter 8 contains a detailed examination of the Iraqi programme and the steps the IAEA has taken to meet future challenges to it safeguards operations.

T h e v i o l a t i o n s b y t h e D P R K o f i t s s a f e g u a r d s a g r e e m e n t

In 1992, after lengthy negotiations and under growing international pressure, the DPRK brought into force its NPT safeguards agreement with the

IAEA. However, the IAEA was unable to verify that the Initial Report submitted by the DPRK covered — as it was required to do — all nuclear material in that country. In February 1993, the IAEA requested a special inspection of two locations that appeared to be nuclear waste stores and that the DPRK had not listed in its Initial Report. After the DPRK had rejected the request, the Board concluded that the DPRK had violated its safeguards agreement and reported the violation to the Security Council, whereupon the DPRK gave notice of its withdrawal from the NPT. The USA interceded, and the

DPRK suspended its notice of withdrawal but continued to hamper the application of safeguards. In 1994, a major international crisis seemed imminent.

Former US President Carter stepped in and secured the outline of a possible settlement. After President Kim Il Sung’s death, the USA and the DPRK reached agreement on a scheme that would freeze and eventually dismantle the DPRK’s nuclear programme in return (chiefly) for the supply of two large power reactors of US design.

The DPRK’s dispute with the IAEA, which became a challenge to its membership as a whole and to the Security Council, and the steps taken to defuse the ensuing crisis, are examined in detail in Chapter 8.

O t h e r d e v e l o p m e n t s a f f e c t i n g I A E A s a f e g u a r d s

Two other developments of particular importance to IAEA safeguards should also be mentioned. In 1992, China and France acceded to the NPT. All five nations recognized as nuclear weapon States under the NPT had thus become party to the Treaty. In the same year, the IAEA and EURATOM agreed to a ‘partnership approach’ in an effort to eliminate unnecessary duplication in the application of safeguards under the 1977 agreement (INFCIRC/193). It was expected that the new approach would eventually reduce by as much as two thirds the routine inspections that the IAEA carries out in the 13 nonnuclear-weapon States of the European Union.



‘ S u s t a i n a b l e d e v e l o p m e n t ’ a n d c l i m a t e c h a n g e

During the 1980s, concern continued to deepen about mankind’s ability to sustain economic development without further injury to the planet’s natural environment and depletion of its finite natural resources. An international mark of this concern was the decision to hold the United Nations

Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992.

In 1988, in preparation for the Rio Conference, the General Conference asked the Director General to prepare a report for the Board for submission to the United Nations General Assembly on the Agency’s contribution to

“environmentally sound and sustainable development.”


During the Rio Conference two treaties were opened for signature, one of direct interest to the IAEA being a ‘United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’. The Conference also adopted ‘Agenda 21’ — a document described as “a global consensus on environment and development issues [of the 21st century] and a political commitment at the highest level to international co-operation.”


In 1993, the General Assembly established a

53-nation Commission on Sustainable Development and the United Nations

Secretary General set up a parallel interagency committee to co-ordinate the approach of the various organizations in the United Nations system. This interagency committee appointed the IAEA as ‘task manager’ on radioactive wastes, one of the 40 chapters covered by Agenda 21.

In September 1995, the Secretariat provided the Board with a detailed survey of the IAEA’s work contributing to sustainable development.


Most of this work is described in Chapters 7, 9 and 10 of this book. The IAEA programmes that have made the largest direct contribution are those dealing with the management of nuclear waste and with nuclear safety and radiation protection. Many of the FAO/IAEA activities in, for instance, conservation and the use of plant and animal genetic resources (helping to maintain biodiversity) and more effective conservation and use of water have clearly been relevant. So too has been the IAEA’s work in human health, in monitoring pollutants, in controlling insect pests and, in particular, the work of the

IAEA’s Marine Environment Laboratory in Monaco on radioactive and nonradioactive pollution

117 of the oceans and the Caspian Sea.

It is now a truism that the burning of fossil fuels is a major potential threat to the environment. The industrialized countries have hardly made any progress in reducing the emission of greenhouse gases, in particular carbon dioxide, the leading cause of global warming. Moreover, there are


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 5 rapidly rising emissions in the developing countries for whom fossil fuels are the most readily available energy source.

In October 1995, the IAEA jointly with the European Union, the World

Bank, the World Meteorological Organization and five other international and regional agencies held a conference in Vienna entitled ‘Electricity, Health and the Environment’ as a follow-up to a similar 1991 IAEA symposium in

Helsinki. The 1995 conference noted that much more information and better computer tools had become available since the Helsinki meeting, that nuclear power already played an important role in reducing carbon dioxide and other pollutants emitted in the generation of electricity, and that there was still significant uncertainty about the risks caused by the emission of carbon dioxide and its effect on average global temperatures. However, if greenhouse effects were included in an overall assessment of the environmental impact of electricity generation, then hydro-power and nuclear power were the only available large scale energy sources that had relatively low ‘external’ costs

(i.e. indirect costs besides capital, operating and maintenance costs). The conference also noted that positive messages were not getting through to decision makers and the public or leading to more support for nuclear power.


‘ Z e r o [ r e a l ] g r o w t h ’ a n d f i n a n c i a l c r i s e s

In 1984, the main contributors to the IAEA’s regular budget decided that they would not accept real growth in that budget. Since then the amount available to the Agency for its programmes other than technical cooperation has, with one or two exceptions, remained the same in real terms.

The exceptions were a moderate increase (after Chernobyl) in the funds available for the nuclear safety programme and various ‘tied’ grants that

Member States have made to programmes of particular interest to them, especially safeguards.

The ‘zero-growth’ strait-jacket eventually caused the IAEA, and particularly its expanding safeguards operation, a good deal of financial strain. The amount of nuclear material that had to be safeguarded increased constantly as new plants came into operation, as the amount of spent fuel built up and as the entire nuclear programmes of South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Ukraine and other republics of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the

Baltic States came under safeguards. The number of plants using particularly sensitive material (e.g. reactors using mixed oxides of plutonium and uranium



— MOX — fuel) and hence requiring more frequent inspection, also continued to grow.

This growing demand was partly but by no means fully offset by the agreement between the IAEA and EURATOM on a partnership approach to their safeguards operations or by cancellations of previous orders for nuclear plants, particularly in Germany, where the construction of a large reprocessing plant at Wackersdorf had been abandoned and where the Siemens company decided not to start up the MOX fuel fabrication plant it had built at


In 1991, when Russia was unable to pay its assessed contribution, the amount available for regular budget programmes fell by about 4%. The IAEA had to defer the purchase of equipment for safeguards and data processing systems, and the conclusion of several research contracts.


In 1992, an even deeper cut of 13% had to be made in the budgets of all IAEA Departments.


In 1993, Russia was able to resume payment of its assessed share of the budget but the requirement for ‘zero growth’ remained in place.


Despite this constraint, the IAEA has been able to expand many of its core programmes; chiefly because of the special ‘extrabudgetary’ contributions that governments made to activities of particular interest to them. While these contributions were welcomed by the Agency, they tended to take the direction of the IAEA’s work partly out of the hands of its Governing Bodies and its Secretariat and into those of the donor countries.

Did zero growth and the financial tribulations of 1991 and 1992 eliminate all waste — ‘press all the water’ — out of the IAEA’s budget? They may have eliminated some projects of marginal interest and induced greater efficiency, but they also forced the IAEA to curtail certain important activities.

For instance, as an independent, authoritative and hard-headed source, the

US General Accounting Office, put it in 1993: “...the Department [of

Safeguards] had to defer or cancel inspections, equipment purchases, and other activities. Because of its financial difficulties, IAEA has been unable to maintain its equipment inventory or fully meet certain inspection goals.”


The situation probably became more critical after the General Accounting

Office came to those conclusions in 1993.

In the case of nuclear safety the same report drew attention to the fact that “in the absence of adequate budgets the IAEA had come to rely on costfree experts, for instance to staff operational safety review missions, and there was concern that these sources were uncertain and may not always be available for future activities.”



P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 5

N u c l e a r t r a f f i c k i n g

The dissolution of the USSR left Russia and most other successor States with inadequate legal and technical systems for preventing the theft of nuclear material and the smuggling of such material out of the country. From

1992 onwards the IAEA carried out special programmes to help the successor

States of the Soviet Union to apply effective preventive measures. It also encouraged them to ratify and apply the 1987 Convention on the Physical

Protection of Nuclear Material as well as the IAEA’s guidelines on physical protection.


Since many Russian nuclear scientists had lost their former comparatively privileged positions and had seen their salaries reduced to a pittance it was also feared that at least some of them might be tempted to sell on the black market whatever fissile material they could lay their hands on or sell their services to terrorists or dubious governments. Although this particular fear has so far proved to be largely unfounded, the number of smuggling incidents rose rapidly from 1991 to 1994.

In that year there were the first detected attempts at smuggling weapon usable material (plutonium and HEU) — three in Germany and one in the Czech Republic. In all cases the amounts of material involved were at least an order of magnitude smaller than the ‘significant quantity’ that the

IAEA has estimated a beginner country would need for its first atom bomb.


The largest amount of fissile material intercepted was 2.73 kg of

HEU (87.7% enriched) that the Czech police seized in Prague on

14 December 1994. In the German cases the largest amount of fissile material intercepted was approximately 363 g of plutonium intercepted at Munich airport on 10 August 1994.


According to information available to the IAEA, national and international police authorities had been unable (at least by the end of 1996) to discover any organized gang or ‘mafia’ behind these operations or any plausible customers for the smuggled material. Nonetheless, the matter was disturbing and in many countries public opinion became increasingly alarmed. In

September 1994, the General Conference called upon Member States to make every effort to prevent trafficking in nuclear materials.


The Conference recognized that States themselves had the main responsibility for preventing trafficking — crime must be addressed at its source — but stressed that close co-operation between States was also essential and the IAEA should support its Member States in their efforts by:



— Helping them to prevent trafficking (for instance, helping them to draft laws and regulations, helping them to apply effective measures of physical protection and of the accounting and control of nuclear material, and effective export and import controls);

— Helping them to respond quickly and effectively to any incident that occurs, for instance, by rapid and accurate analysis of confiscated materials;

— Providing training in prevention and response;

— Promoting the exchange of information.

In 1992, the IAEA had begun the systematic collection of reports in the media on incidents of trafficking in radioactive materials so as to ensure that the organization itself was fully aware of such incidents.


In December

1994, the Board approved a number of proposals to enhance the services the

IAEA could offer in helping Member States to improve the protection of nuclear material and to detect and suppress trafficking. In 1995, the functions of the 1992 database were expanded so as to enable the IAEA to provide its Member States and the public with authoritative information about reported smuggling attempts. The database became fully operational in respect of media reports in August 1995, and in late 1995 the IAEA began seeking information directly from the authorities of the States concerned.


Governments agreed to provide information on the date and place of any incident and a brief description of the material involved, and they may volunteer confidential information about the composition and origin of the material, its packaging and the persons involved. If the IAEA did not hear from the government about an incident mentioned in the media and media reports persisted, the IAEA would take the matter up with the government concerned.

In 1995, the IAEA also held a number of meetings with Member States, the UN, EURATOM and international police organizations such as INTER-

POL to assess the extent of the trafficking problem and to recommend further action, for instance systematic sharing of information, improved detection of smuggled material at frontier crossings, fuller use of the database and prompt notification of incidents. By the end of 1995, 25 nations had informed the

IAEA that they were prepared to take part in the sharing of information, and it was expected that the number would rapidly increase.


The main difficulty in some cases was internal: deciding which national authority should be the point of contact with the IAEA.


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 5

According to the IAEA’s database the number of confirmed — and intercepted — attempts to smuggle in nuclear material went up from 43 in

1993 to 44 in 1994 and down to 27 in 1995 and 17 in 1996. The cause of the decline between 1994 and 1996 was not clear, nor was there any indication whether it was temporary or that the existence of a market for such material might be questionable — in other words, that nuclear smuggling is a dangerous and unremunerative exercise.


A cursory analysis of the IAEA database shows that in the four years

1993–1996, 132 incidents were confirmed: 54 in Germany, 22 in the Baltic

States and 10 in Poland. The remainder were scattered as far afield as India,

Ecuador and Kazakstan, but most were in Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

What was perhaps more to the point were the quantities and nature of the materials: 82 of the cases involved natural, depleted or low enriched uranium, mostly in gram quantities, but in three cases in amounts of several kilograms.

The largest amount was 149.8 kg of 3.3% enriched uranium — typical low enriched reactor fuel — in Kazakstan. Six of the cases involved gram or milligram quantities of plutonium.


In short, during these four years no confirmed case involved an amount or type of nuclear material that could be considered significant from the point of view of diversion or explosive use.


In fact, the only persons put at risk by this trafficking were the traffickers themselves who, in a few cases, exposed their persons to highly radioactive substances such as cobalt-60 and strontium-90. Of course, this does not mean that all cases of trafficking were detected, nor that this relatively innocuous pattern will continue, nor that controls and monitoring of contraband material can be relaxed. On the contrary, the fact that the spotlight has been turned on this criminally dangerous trade and that the national and international organizations concerned are increasingly alert to it may help to account for the decline in the number of confirmed incidents.

T h e I A E A ’ s m e m b e r s h i p a n d f i n a n c e s a t t h e e n d o f 1 9 9 6

By the middle of 1997, the IAEA’s membership had risen from the

54 that had joined it when the first General Conference opened in October

1957 to a total of 124. For more than one quarter of its history the IAEA had been operating under zero growth in its regular budget. Under the 1996 regular budget the resources available to it amounted to $249 million (down


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A from $251 million in 1995), plus $63.3 million (compared with $63.5 million in

1995) for technical co-operation activities. The apparent increase in the regular budget, shown in Table I in Annex 3, was due entirely to changes in the rate of exchange and inflation; there was no increase in real terms.

1 9 8 1 – 1 9 9 7 : S u m m i n g u p

It is now a truism that the 17 years from 1981 to 1997 and especially those around the turn of the decade brought about the most far-reaching changes in the world’s political scene since 1945: the end of the Cold War and of the fear of a nuclear Armageddon, the beginning of major nuclear disarmament in

Russia and the USA, widespread disenchantment with Marxist and statist economics and conversion to market philosophies, the dissolution of the Soviet

Union and the Warsaw Pact and the end of Communist party rule in Eastern

Europe, Russia and other successor States of the USSR, a widespread movement towards democracy in Latin America, the end of white rule and apartheid in southern Africa, rapid economic progress in China and in the

‘tigers’ of North East and South East Asia, and progress towards a European

Union. Some issues did not change; for instance, political mistrust persisted between the leading nations in South Asia (but there had been no war between them for more than 20 years). Despite the Oslo accords the Middle East remained volatile, though perhaps less so than in the previous two decades.

Many of these changes had an impact on the IAEA’s programmes, particularly those relating to safeguards, which will be examined in Chapter 8.

The period also saw the worst nuclear accident and the gravest set-back to nuclear power since it first came into use in the 1950s, a challenge to the credibility of the non-proliferation regime in Iraq and the DPRK, and the IAEA’s responses to these challenges, and for the IAEA as a whole, a financial crisis, mitigated to some extent by special contributions by several Member States.

As the period drew near to a close there were several other crucial developments. In April 1996, the Agency, the European Commission and

WHO convened a major conference to sum up the consequences of the

Chernobyl accident, as they could now be perceived ten years after it had happened. All the interested UN and regional agencies worked together to ensure that the findings of the Conference were of the highest scientific order and authority and that they would be as widely disseminated as possible.


The Conference attracted more than 800 experts from some 70 countries. It findings are examined in more detail in Chapter 7.



P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 5

Another important development affecting nuclear safety was the entry into force on 24 October 1996 of the ‘Convention on Nuclear Safety’ (also examined in more detail in Chapter 7). By 30 June 1997, 37 countries had become party to the Convention and they included most nations operating nuclear power reactors (though not yet the USA). By that date, the drafting of a joint convention on the management of spent fuel and radioactive waste had been completed.


The crucial event affecting IAEA safeguards was the decision of the parties to the NPT to extend the treaty indefinitely and thereby also to extend indefinitely the duration of safeguards agreements concluded in accordance with the Treaty between the IAEA and non-nuclear-weapon States. The parties took this decision (without a formal vote) at the Review and Extension

Conference held at UN Headquarters in New York in May 1995. At the same time, the parties approved a document setting out the principles and objectives in the light of which the implementation of the Treaty will be assessed, and also approved arrangements for strengthening the review process itself.

The decisions of the parties implied “a renewed and collective commitment...

to the exclusively peaceful use of nuclear energy,” and a commitment by the weapon States to nuclear disarmament.


The Agency’s role as the central point for nuclear co-operation was confirmed, and “the Agency was expressly recognized as the competent authority responsible for verifying compliance with safeguards agreements.”


The Conference also “urged support for

Agency efforts to strengthen safeguards and to develop its capability to detect possible undeclared nuclear activities.”


It also recommended that “nuclear material released from military use be placed under Agency safeguards as soon as practicable”

140 and called for the early conclusion of a cut-off convention and for the creation of additional nuclear weapon free zones. The

Conference stressed the importance of concluding a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty not later than the end of 1996.

Progress has been made in achieving a number of these aims. In 1995, the Board of Governors had authorized the Secretariat to put into effect those elements of the ‘Programme 93 + 2’ that did not require additional legal authority. In May 1997, the Board approved a protocol to existing comprehensive safeguards agreements that will provide the legal authority for several safeguards measures that go beyond the existing system, for instance, access by the IAEA to more information about a State’s nuclear activities, more intensive inspections, including access beyond previously agreed

‘strategic points’ in a safeguarded plant, access to any installation within the


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A perimeter of a nuclear site, and access to plants engaged in nuclear related activities such as those manufacturing components of enrichment plants. The changes foreseen in the protocol are also designed to make safeguards under comprehensive agreements more cost efficient.

As already noted, in April 1996 the States concerned signed and opened for signature in Cairo the Pelindaba Treaty establishing a nuclear weapon free zone in Africa,

141 and in December 1995 a treaty creating such a zone in South

East Asia was signed in Bangkok. When these treaties enter into force and when the remaining steps are taken to bring the Tlatelolco Treaty fully into effect, the following regions of the world will be free of nuclear weapons under international law: Antarctica; Latin America and the Caribbean; the

South Pacific; Africa; South East Asia.

By the end of 1996, the IAEA was already verifying that certain nuclear material (HEU and plutonium) declared by the USA to be surplus to its military needs remains removed from the military programme. In September

1996, the Russian Minister for Atomic Energy, Viktor Mikhailov, the US

Secretary of Energy, Hazel O’Leary, and Director General Hans Blix agreed to explore the technical, legal and financial issues relating to the verification of nuclear material withdrawn from military use.


Also in September 1996, the UN General Assembly approved and opened for signature a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.


In short, since 1990 there has been a consolidation and extension of the

NPT regime to a point where universality is closer than appeared possible even a few years ago. Some 45 States acceded to the NPT between 1990 and

1996, including the last two nuclear weapon States, China and France, as well as Argentina and South Africa. Five nuclear weapon free zones each requiring

IAEA verification are in force or in gestation. IAEA safeguards or verification have been extended, for the first time, to cover former nuclear weapon material in the USA and South Africa. Finally, much strengthened IAEA safeguards have been approved by the Board of Governors.

At the end of 1996, Hans Blix informed the Board that he would not seek to extend his appointment beyond the current term. His 16 years of service as

Director General of the IAEA would thus come to an end in December 1997.

During those 16 years Blix had guided the IAEA through several crises and under his direction the Agency has accomplished much to enhance its authority and role in international affairs. The crises included the temporary withdrawal of the USA from the IAEA at the end of 1982, the Chernobyl disaster, and violations of their safeguards agreements by Iraq and the DPRK.


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 5

The IAEA’s accomplishments, under Blix’s direction, included prompt and effective reaction to Chernobyl, its authoritative analyses of the causes and effects of that accident, the two conventions on early notification and mutual emergency assistance negotiated (exceptionally swiftly) in 1986, the entry into force of the Nuclear Safety Convention in 1996 and the completion of work on the draft of a convention on the management of nuclear waste. Blix had responded with similar effectiveness to the revelation of Iraq’s clandestine nuclear weapon programme and the DPRK’s breach of its safeguards agreement. His analysis of the lessons of Iraq provided the framework for

‘Programme 93 + 2’ approved by the Board in May 1997 — the most important development in international nuclear safeguards since the establishment of the NPT safeguards system in 1971. The growing efficacy and impartial application of IAEA safeguards were undoubtedly factors in the 1995 decision of the parties to make the Treaty permanent.

In June 1997, by a unanimous decision, the Board appointed

Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei as successor to Dr. Blix. Dr. ElBaradei is a distinguished international lawyer and diplomat and author of numerous publications on the United Nations, the IAEA and international law. He has served the IAEA since 1984 in several senior capacities, most recently (since 1993) as

Assistant Director General for External Relations. He carries the rank of

Ambassador in the Egyptian Foreign Service. It is expected that at its autumn session the General Conference will approve Dr. ElBaradei’s appointment.




Also the Musikakademie itself, where the IAEA was temporarily housed, the

Venediger Au near the Prater, the ‘Gutman’ building on Schwarzenbergplatz near the Konzerthaus, the Biberstein building and the Gartenbaugrund, the Coburg

Palace and the Stadtschulrat in the First District (i.e. the inner city). A partial listing is given in document GOV/68 of 18 December 1957. Later there was some discussion of a castle at Laxenburg (now housing the International Institute for

Applied Systems Analysis) as a possible permanent headquarters for the Agency.

Until new meeting rooms were built, the Board met in a suitably refurbished chamber in the Hofburg palace. For reasons that remain obscure, the IAEA’s

Director of Finance occupied the honeymoon suite in the Grand Hotel and sat below a suitably unclad mural of Venus.







After the IAEA moved to its newly built headquarters in the Donaupark, the

Grand Hotel was first refitted as a bank and since then has reverted partly to its original role of a luxury hotel and has also been transformed into an upmarket shopping centre. Until the 1980s, when the Austrian Government built a new conference centre at the Donaupark, the General Conference held its annual session in the halls of the Hofburg Palace.

The Board elected Goldschmidt as its chairman on 11 December 1979 (document

GOV/OR.541 of April 1980). Goldschmidt was the author of several illuminating books about the wartime and post-war development of nuclear energy and about nuclear relations between the Allied governments. The best known is Le Complexe

Atomique (Fayard, Paris (1980)), subsequently translated into English by the

American Nuclear Society.

The panel had concluded that nuclear power could well be the key to the economic future of the USA and had recommended the expeditious development of nuclear power including, if necessary, the “construction of one ‘demonstration’ plant of each major reactor size and type with public funds.” HEWLETT, R.G., HOLL, J.M.,

Atoms for Peace and War: 1953–1961, Eisenhower and the Atomic Energy Commission,

University of California Press, Berkeley, CA (1990) pp. 205 and 327–328.

Personal communication from Ambassador Roland Timerbaev, for many years

Soviet and later Russian Resident Representative to the IAEA. Molotov’s appointment filled the air with rumours. It was reported — correctly — that Stalin had kept Molotov’s wife, Paulina Semenovna Zhemchuzhina, in prison in the late

1940s. She was Jewish and was suspected by Stalin and Beria of supporting the

Zionist cause. It was also said that Molotov’s staff, who obviously disliked him, fed him incorrect information so as to make him look foolish when he spoke in the

Board or General Conference. What was undeniable was that he was deliberately humiliated by being listed as the fourth ranking member of the Soviet delegation at the General Conference.

See HEWLETT, R.G., HOLL, J.M., Atoms for Peace and War, p. 437, on Cole’s salary.

Cole also unnecessarily exposed himself to some ridicule by producing his own bizarre design for a special flag for the IAEA — in place of the UN flag — and trying to persuade a hilarious Board to approve it. A somewhat harebrained proposal by a senior IAEA scientist, unwisely endorsed by Cole, was that the

IAEA should buy tens of thousands of cattle, pigs and other mammals, possibly transport them to a Mediterranean island and irradiate them over a period of

15–20 years to study the genetic and somatic effects of a diet containing strontium-90. Inevitably, the proposal became known in the Secretariat as the “cow project”; it was unanimously rejected by the Board. (See STOESSINGER, J.G.,


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 5







“Atoms for Peace: The International Atomic Energy Agency”, Organizing for Peace

in the Nuclear Age, Report of a Commission to Study the Organization of Peace,

New York University Press, New York (1959) 168.) But Cole was kind and loyal to those whom he liked and he made many friends.

Lewis Strauss to John Foster Dulles (HEWLETT, R.G., HOLL, J.M., Atoms for Peace

and War, p. 437). See also STOESSINGER, J.G., “The International Atomic Energy

Agency: The first phase”, International Organization 13 3 (1959) 404.

STOESSINGER, J.G., “The International Atomic Energy Agency: The first phase”, p. 404. By the end of 1958, 68 bilateral agreements for nuclear assistance had been concluded, 45 by the USA, 12 by the United Kingdom, 9 by the Soviet Union and

2 by Canada, ibid., p. 405.

Very briefly, the issue was whether the USA would accept EURATOM safeguards as a substitute for those of the IAEA as the pro-Western European diplomats at the

State Department and the Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, urged. Despite the opposition of Cole and Lewis Strauss, the Chairman of the USAEC, Eisenhower accepted the State Department’s recommendation.

“However formidable on the ground, from the air the Soviets were naked unto their enemies.” Until 1960 the Soviet Union was “defenceless against [US] strategic bombing.” RHODES, R., Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb, Simon and

Schuster, New York (1995) pp. 349 and 348.

As a consequence, several articles of the IAEA’s Statute were doomed to be dead letters. In particular, Articles IX, X and XIII dealing with the supply to the IAEA of nuclear hardware and services and payment for such supplies; Article XIV.E

enjoining the IAEA to draw up a scale of charges for hardware and services it supplied; and Article VII.G implicitly providing for the recruitment of guards.

Under Article IX.A, the materials were to be stored by the member or “in the

Agency’s depots”. Under Article IX.H, the IAEA was to be responsible for storing and protecting materials in its possession (for instance, against forcible seizure) and for ensuring their “geographical distribution of these materials in such a way” to avoid concentrating them in any one country or region. Under Article

IX.I, the IAEA was to acquire all the facilities needed for “for the receipt, storage and issue” and “control laboratories for the analysis and...verification of [nuclear] materials received” as well as “housing and administrative facilities for any staff required...” The Agency had no occasion to take action under any of these provisions.

First Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference Covering the

Period from 23 October 1957 to 30 June 1958, GC(II)/39, IAEA, Vienna (1958), p. 39, para. 177.













The exceptions were gram quantities of fissile material that the USA provided

(much later) to the IAEA’s laboratory. Member States also submitted requests for small amounts of nuclear and other radioactive material for use in their laboratories. After a request had been approved by the Board, the USA or one or two other suppliers sent the material direct to Member States. In due course the Board delegated to the Director General the authority to approve such transfers.

As the 1958–1959 Annual Report of the Board put it: “the cost of nuclear power production...has not yet been reduced sufficiently to make it economically attractive” except in special circumstances. (Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the

General Conference Covering the Period from 1 July 1958 to 30 June 1959, GC(III)/73,

IAEA, Vienna (1959), p. 3, para. 8.)

Document GOV/OR/254, para. 75.

The administration of fellowships had been assigned to one Department in the

Secretariat. The administration of other types of technical assistance (for which funds became available in 1959), namely the services of experts and the scientific equipment, was somewhat illogically assigned to another Department. So Jolles appointed, in his own extensive ‘Department of Administration, Liaison and Secretariat’, a

‘co-ordinator’ for technical assistance. By this appointment three Departments in the

Secretariat became responsible for administering technical assistance.

“Duties of the Director General”, Rule 8 (a), Board of Governors, Provisional Rules of

Procedure, GOV/INF/5, IAEA, Vienna (1958) 5.

BECHHOEFER, B.G., Postwar Negotiations for Arms Control, The Brookings

Institution, Washington DC (1961) 11.

SZASZ, P.C., The Law and Practices of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Legal

Series No. 7, IAEA, Vienna (1970) 313–314. There has been no grant of consultative status since then, but by the 1970s the issue had ceased to be divisive. In 1975, the

General Conference asked the Board to invite every year appropriate NGOs to attend its future regular sessions, that is NGOs concerned with developing the peaceful uses of nuclear energy or research in the nuclear sciences.

Document GOV/OR.74, para. 45.

First Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference Covering the

Period from 23 October 1957 to 30 June 1958, p. 9, para. 40; and Annual Report of the

Board of Governors to the General Conference Covering the Period from 1 July 1958 to

30 June 1959, Annex I.C, p. 56.

CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES, Background Material for the Review of the

International Atomic Policies and Programs of the United States, Report to the Joint

Committee on Atomic Energy, Vol. 3, US Govt. Printing Office, Washington, DC

(1960) 740–741.


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 5













First Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference Covering the

Period from 23 October 1957 to 30 June 1958, p. 30, para. 131.

EPTA was one of the two precursors of the present United Nations Development

Programme — the other precursor, then still in gestation, was the United Nations

Special Fund, which was designed to focus on larger projects.

Document GOV/OR.98, paras 12–18 (Sterling Cole’s report to the Board on the conference) and CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES, Review of the International

Atomic Policies and Programmes of the United States, p. 773. Before the conference,

Cole tried but failed to persuade the Austrian Foreign Ministry that it should use its influence with the UN to have the venue of the conference transferred to


Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference Covering the Period

from 1 July 1958 to 30 June 1959, pp. 48–49, paras 227–228.

Ibid, p. 49, para. 229, and material provided by the Director of the laboratory.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1961 to 30 June

1962, GC(VI)/195, IAEA, Vienna (1962), p. 1, para. 2 and p. 11, para. 70.

HEWLETT, R.G., HOLL, J.M., Atoms for Peace and War, pp. 265 and 473.

HEWLETT, R.G., HOLL, J.M., ibid., pp. 175–178.

HEWLETT, R.G., HOLL, J.M., ibid., p. 303.

BECHHOEFER, B.G., Postwar Negotiations for Arms Control, pp. 490–491.

STOESSINGER, J.G., “The International Atomic Energy Agency: The first phase”, p. 409.

The Conference on Disarmament (CD), which meets in Geneva, negotiated the draft of a comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in the course of 1994–1996. India found the draft unacceptable. Hence the CD, which takes decisions by consensus on issues of substance, was unable to approve the draft text, whereupon Australia took the initiative and submitted the draft text to the UN General Assembly together with a resolution approving it. Numerous delegations co-sponsored the

Australian resolution, which was adopted on 19 September 1996 by a large majority of members of the United Nations (158 voted in favour of the resolution, three against and five abstained).



If and when the CTBT enters into force the parties will establish an agency in

Vienna which will operate its own monitoring system. In the meantime the prospective parties have agreed to establish a Preparatory Commission in Vienna.

Article II.A.8 of the CTBT.

From 1957 to 1959, the Board also established temporary committees on subjects such as the negotiation of agreements between the IAEA and the specialized







41 agencies, the selection of the IAEA’s permanent headquarters and the rules to govern the IAEA’s acceptance of contributions and gifts. Since then the Board has set up ad hoc committees to advise it on numerous topics. They include the Board’s own size and composition, the financing of technical co-operation and of safeguards, the contents of safeguards systems, assurances of nuclear supplies, the texts of various conventions and, most recently, means of making safeguards more effective and efficient.

The IAEA’s own funds plus EPTA/Special Fund (later UNDP), plus the estimated value of contributions in kind. A good deal of this growth was offset by inflation, but even so it was very substantial.

VERNET, D., “Vers l’Europe nucléaire, échaudée par la crise de Suez, la France envisagea très sérieusement, il y a quarante ans, de se doter avec l’Allemagne et l’Italie d’une ‘arme nouvelle’ ”, Le Monde, 27 October 1996.

Some States had difficulty in complying with the timetable. A State that was party to the NPT when the Treaty entered into force was required to begin the negotiation of its safeguards agreement with the IAEA within 180 days of the date of the

NPT’s entry into force, and to bring the safeguards agreement into force within

18 months after the negotiation began. A State that acceded later was required to begin safeguards negotiations on or before its date of accession and (likewise) to bring the safeguards agreement into force within 18 months after the negotiation began. The five non-nuclear-weapon States of EURATOM began their negotiation of the safeguards agreement in 1971 and signed it in 1973, but only brought it into force on 21 February 1977, five years after negotiations began. Even under the more generous interpretation that the States concerned could not be bound by the

Treaty’s timetable before they had acceded to the Treaty (which they did on 2 May

1975) they were still more than three months late in bringing the safeguards agreement into force! But this sin of omission pales before the delays that attended the entry into force of numerous other agreements — see Chapter 8.

The Oak Ridge Laboratory was actually built in 1943 and the calutrons in its Y-12 plant produced the HEU for the Hiroshima bomb. One of the main purposes of the symposium was to ‘consecrate’, in a non-religious sense, a large Japanese bronze bell, with scenes of Japan and Tennessee on its panels, designed to keep alive the memory of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and to help ensure that nuclear weapons were never used again.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1963 to 30 June

1964, GC(VIII)/270, IAEA, Vienna (1964); p. 12, para. 69; and Annual Report of the

Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1964 to 30 June 1965, GC(IX)/299, p. 35, para. 150. As early as 1960, Abdus Salam, the eminent Pakistani physicist, had


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 5





46 made the case to the IAEA’s General Conference for the creation of a theoretical physics centre. He argued that the IAEA was looking for useful things to do, but did not have much money, and that all you needed for work in theoretical physics was a pencil and paper — unlike the large and costly machines essential for work in experimental physics. Salam mobilized support from a number of leading physicists including Richard Feynman, Paul Dirac, Robert Oppenheimer, Henry

Smyth and physicists in the USSR.

As a follow-up of the research agreement concluded by Sterling Cole on 10 March


The outstanding figures were Henry Seligman, the Head of the Department of

Radioisotopes and Radiation, and Carlo Salvetti, Head of the Division of Research and Laboratories. Seligman had been Director of the Isotope Division at Harwell in the UK, and Salvetti had been Director of the Nuclear Research Centre at Ispra in Italy. Both were dissatisfied with the direction their establishments were taking and sought scientific refuge in the IAEA. There were many other pioneers: Mac

Fried, the first director of the Joint FAO/IAEA Division; Brian Payne, who launched the IAEA’s — and the world’s — first international nuclear hydrology programme; Hugh Belcher, who helped build up the IAEA’s work in nuclear medicine; Jacques Servant, who launched the IAEA’s nuclear safety work; Dragan

Popovic and Allan McKnight, who helped establish the IAEA’s role in safeguards; and Munir Kahn and Bob Skjöldebrand, who were the driving force of the IAEA’s programme in nuclear power. Upendra Goswami, the first Director and later Head of the Department of Technical Assistance, was largely responsible for what was then the most important of the IAEA’s programmes and remains so in the eyes of many of the IAEA’s Member States. On the non-technical side credit must be given to John Hall, who succeeded Jolles as the Head of Administration; Algie Wells, who replaced Hall in this post for several years; Carol Kraczkiewicz, the first

Director of Personnel; and Paddy Bolton, for many years Secretary of the Board and the General Conference.

RAINER, R.H., SZASZ, P.C., The Law and Practices of the International Atomic Energy

Agency: 1970–1980, Supplement 1 to the 1970 Edition of Legal Series No. 7, Legal Series

No. 7-S1, IAEA, Vienna (1993) 28–29.

SZASZ, P.C., The Law and Practices of the International Atomic Energy Agency, p. 141.

The amendment came into force on 23 January 1963.

This would have the result of reducing the number of regional nuclear leaders by two as they (India and Japan) graduated into the top nine. In other words, the number of

States to be designated as leading nuclear States within regions not represented by the

‘nine world leaders’ would be reduced from five to three, namely, the States most






50 advanced in the technology of atomic energy, including the production of source materials, in Africa, Latin America and South East Asia and the Pacific. Two States previously in this category, India and Japan, would move up into the top nine.

SZASZ, P.C., The Law and Practices of the International Atomic Energy Agency, pp. 142–143; and RAINER, R.H., SZASZ, P.C., The Law and Practices of the

International Atomic Energy Agency: 1970–1980, pp. 52–53.

SZASZ, P.C., The Law and Practices of the International Atomic Energy Agency, p. 147.

RAINER, R.H., SZASZ, P.C., The Law and Practices of the International Atomic Energy

Agency: 1970–1980, pp. 14–15.

Director General Blix and a senior Japanese member of the IAEA’s staff as well as the Government of Pakistan did much, in informal contacts with senior Chinese officials in Beijing and Vienna, to persuade the Government of the People’s

Republic that China should join the IAEA.



As a result of the Board’s decision China could have taken its seat in the Agency at any time it found convenient and did not need to submit a formal application for membership. If Beijing had taken this course, however, it would have recognized implicitly the legality of the action taken by the authorities in Taiwan when they signed and ratified the Statute of the IAEA in 1957. This would have been contrary to the policy of the People’s Republic, which apparently was not to recognize the legality of any action taken by Taiwan after 1949 when the Taiwanese authorities fled from the mainland.

Taiwan had ratified the NPT on 27 January 1970 and its ratification had been recognized by the USA until it broke off diplomatic relations with the ‘Republic of

China’. When the Board took its decision, the Secretariat had perforce to break off the negotiation of an NPT safeguards agreement, but it was by no means in the interest of the IAEA, or of the People’s Republic or of the other parties to the NPT to withdraw the IAEA’s inspectors. Accordingly, the IAEA continued to apply safeguards on the basis of an informal understanding that a previous agreement between the USA, the ‘Republic of China’ and the IAEA would in practice remain in force and that all nuclear plant and material in Taiwan would brought under that agreement. (See also RAINER, R.H., SZASZ, P.C., The Law and Practices of the

International Atomic Energy Agency: 1970–1980, pp. 16–17.)

The second was in Mexico City in 1972. The opening was the scene of a bizarre diplomatic encounter. Mexico did not recognize the Government of General

Franco and the Spanish Republic still maintained diplomatic representation in

Mexico City, and, in accordance with the custom of the General Conference, had to be invited, together with all other diplomatic missions, to the opening of the


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 5













Conference. The official Spanish delegation was very unhappy and there were fears of a public protest, but the opening passed off without any visible incident.

Document GOV/OR.501, para. 93.

Author of the ‘Smyth Report’ on the Manhattan Project, which was written in 1946 to account to Congress for the vast sums spent on the Project. According to Bertrand

Goldschmidt (Le Complexe Atomique, p. 80), the Smyth Report helped France, and probably the USSR, to avoid blind alleys on the path to their first nuclear weapons.

Smyth was a distinguished scientist and a man of great personal charm and integrity.

When charges were made that Robert Oppenheimer was a security risk Smyth was the only member of the panel set up to pass judgement on Oppenheimer who opposed the suspension of Oppenheimer’s security clearance.

BARLOW, A., The History of the International Atomic Energy Agency (unpublished thesis), quoting ALLARDICE, C., TRAPNELL, E.R., The Atomic Energy Commission,

Praeger, New York (1974) 205–208.

The Soviet/US and US/EURATOM compromises on IAEA safeguards are reflected in Article III of the NPT.

“ pursue negotiations in good faith for the cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date” and “on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international controls” in the language of Article VI of the NPT. The commitment to a comprehensive test ban treaty is contained in the eleventh preambular paragraph of the NPT.

Articles IV and V of the NPT.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1967 to 30 June

1968, GC(XII)/380, IAEA, Vienna (1968), p. 1, para. 2.

SCHEINMAN, L., The International Atomic Energy Agency and World Nuclear Order,

Resources for the Future, Washington, DC (1988) 37–38.

The US offer related to all nuclear activities, except those having security significance. The formula of the United Kingdom was different but meant much the same.

The IAEA’s NPT safeguards system and the Treaty of Tlatelolco are examined more fully in Chapter 8.

It is estimated that the explosion, which took place 100 metres underground, had a yield of the order of 10–15 kilotons; in other words, it was in the same range as the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. GOLDBLAT, J., “The Indian nuclear test and the NPT”, NPT: Paradoxes and Problems (MARKS, A.W. (Ed.)),

Arms Control Association, Washington, DC (1975) 31.

The CIRUS reactor, as it is called, uses natural uranium as its fuel and heavy water as its coolant and moderator and is an excellent machine for producing weapon grade plutonium (after the Suez crisis of 1956 France supplied a similar reactor to









Israel). The original model was built in Canada after the war, and Canada later supplied a similar machine to Taiwan. The relevant agreement between Canada and India specified that as long as the reactor used Canadian fuel, Canadian safeguards would apply. When India was able to substitute its own natural uranium for the Canadian fuel, the residual Indian commitment was to use the reactor and its products for peaceful purposes only; hence the Indian statement that the

Pokharan test was a “peaceful nuclear explosion”.

Document GOV/OR.469.

Communication from Ambassador Roland Timerbaev, who took part in the Moscow consultations and was present when the agreement on the NSG’s Guidelines was reached.

In the case of existing agreements, the importing non-nuclear-weapon State had a two-year grace period to come into compliance with the Act. New agreements and renegotiated agreements would only be concluded with non-nuclear-weapon

States that already placed all nuclear material under safeguards. The Act also required physical protection of nuclear items supplied by the USA, US consent on re-exports, and several other conditions of supply.

In view of the President’s and Congress’s antipathy to reprocessing, the customers of the USA concluded that only in exceptional cases would the USA give its prior consent. The US/EURATOM Agreement of 1958 did not require prior US consent for the reprocessing or enrichment of nuclear material of US origin. EURATOM refused to renegotiate, and to avoid an interruption of current and future US supplies the President had to resort to a clause empowering him to waive the renegotiation requirement if he deemed that it was in the US national interest to do so.

Until 1995, when the US/EURATOM agreement expired, successive US Presidents annually waived the renegotiation requirement. Thus, in practice, EURATOM and

Japan were given ‘programmatic’ consent for reprocessing — in other words long term advance consent to reprocessing. The USA and EURATOM have since negotiated a new agreement that has resolved this problem.

The main plutonium producing and using countries have, however, met in recent years and agreed to publish reports on the amount of plutonium they hold in storage and on their production and use of plutonium. The European Union also laid down strict rules to govern the export of plutonium so as to ensure that it remains under IAEA safeguards, and to guard against the stockpiling of civilian plutonium, an aim implicit in Article XII.A.5 of the IAEA’s Statute.

In the 1980s, there were reports that China had offered to accept and store nuclear waste from the Federal Republic of Germany and Brazil, but at a high price.

Apparently no agreement was reached.


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 5











Annual Report for 1987, GC (XXXII)/835, IAEA, Vienna (1988), p. 14, para. 32. The

Conference was held at the Palais des Nations (the United Nations centre) in


For example, HERSH, S.M., The Samson Option, Random House, New York (1991)

271–283; MOORE, J.D.L., South Africa and Nuclear Proliferation, Macmillan Press,

London (1987) 116.

According to a possibly apocryphal tale by Goldschmidt, the Iraqi authorities at first asked for a replica of the 480 MW(e) Vandellós I reactor that the French

Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique had built in Spain. This gas cooled graphite moderated reactor was of the type that had been used to produce substantial quantities of weapon grade plutonium in the United Kingdom, France and elsewhere. When President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing heard about the Iraqi request, his reaction was that they should be told that France did not make that type of reactor any longer, but that they should be offered the most expensive French research reactor, thereby recouping some of the money that France was spending on Iraqi oil. Accordingly, the French provided what was, in effect, a copy of the OSIRIS reactor, a 70 MW(th) materials testing plant that uses HEU as its fuel and is named after the ancient Egyptian god personifying the power of good and sunlight, and re-christened it ‘OSIRAQ’.

Documents GOV.OR.564–567.

See the essay by Ambassador Roger Kirk in Personal Reflections. Ambassador Kirk was the Resident Representative of the USA to the IAEA from 1978 until 1983.

Part or all of 14 meetings of the Board were spent on this subject (GOV/OR.568–570 and GOV/OR.572–579 and 583–585).

Eibenschutz, Mexico; Haunschild, Germany; Imai, Japan; Korhonen, Finland;

Siazon, Philippines; Wilson, Australia; Zangger, Switzerland.

Blix had been legal adviser in the Foreign Ministry from 1963 to 1976 and Under

Secretary of State in charge of international development co-operation from 1976 to 1978. He was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1978. He had served in

New York and Geneva on the Swedish delegations to the General Assembly and to the Conference on Disarmament. In the 1980 referendum on nuclear power he had headed the Liberal Party Campaign Committee in favour of retaining the

Swedish nuclear energy programme.

Document GOV/OR.585.

GC(XXV)/OR.237, para. 127. The General Conference would normally have finished its session on the previous Friday, but its agenda in 1981 was unusually heavy. Besides the appointment of a new Director General it had to: address the

Israeli attack on the Tamuz reactor; demand that technical co-operation be















93 financed in a more certain and predictable manner; pressure for the expansion of the Board; and deal with demands that more persons from the developing countries be appointed to senior positions in the IAEA.

A resolution proposed by the Board and adopted by the General Conference recommended that the Board “give particular consideration to candidates from developing areas who meet the requirements for that high office in appointing the

Director General after the expiration of the above mentioned term of Mr. Blix.”

The term referred to in the resolution was from 1 December 1981 to 30 November

1985. In fact, Dr. Blix’s tenure was renewed for three further terms until

30 November 1997. (GC(XXV)/658.)

Document GC(XXV)/OR.237, paras 40–41.

IAEA Statute, Article XIX.B.

The Iraqi amendment would simply have added to the draft resolution the words

“with the exception of the credentials of the delegation of Israel”, GC(XXVI)/OR.246, p. 5, para. 19.

Some delegates maintained that the Madagascar delegate was not present when the vote was taken.

Document GC(XXVI)/OR.246, paras 19–62.

A senior member of the US mission to the IAEA, about to return to the USA, subsequently told the author that the original instructions to the US delegation did

not call for US withdrawal if Israel’s credentials were successfully challenged.

When the members of the Israeli delegation learnt this — on the last morning of the conference — they expressed strong dissatisfaction and said they would contact the Israeli Embassy in Washington. Within a few hours the instructions to the

US delegation were changed. See also KIRK, R., in Personal Reflections.

In most UN forums, as in the IAEA General Conference, only a simple majority of votes would be needed to secure the rejection of any delegation’s credentials.

The Austrian Government provided facilities for the negotiations at a well known

Alpine resort, but the parties had little time for skiing!

Document GOV/OR.600.

Annual Report for 1982, GC(XXVII)/684, IAEA, Vienna (1983), p. 16, para. 63. This theme was also taken up by the NPT review conferences, which called upon South

Africa to renounce nuclear weapons and to accede to the Treaty.

Annual Report for 1987, p. 15, para. 41.

Documents GOV/OR.677 and GOV/2311. The Statute (Article XIX.B.) prescribes that the suspension by the General Conference of the rights and privileges of a

Member State requires the votes of a two thirds majority of the members present and voting. The only matter which requires the approval of two thirds of the


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 5



















112 members of the Board is the amount of the Agency’s budget (Article VI.E), but the

Board may by a simple majority decide that decisions on other questions or categories of questions shall require the votes of a two thirds majority of its members.

Annual Report for 1987, p. 15, para. 41; Annual Report for 1988, GC(XXXIII)/873,

IAEA, Vienna (1989), p. 10, para. 39; and Annual Report for 1989, GC(XXXIV)/915,

IAEA, Vienna (1990), p. 7.

Annual Report for 1992, GC(XXXVII)/1060, IAEA, Vienna (1993), pp. 4–5.

Annual Report for 1993, GC(XXXVIII)/2, IAEA, Vienna (1994), p. 157.

Annual Report for 1983, GC(XXVIII)/713, IAEA, Vienna (1984), p. 7, para. 2.

See Article VI.A of the IAEA Statute and the Annual Report for 1984, p. 7, paras 1–2.

Document INFCIRC/369.

Annual Report for 1989, p. 103.

The second paragraph of the preamble to the 1989 safeguards agreement

(INFCIRC/369) reads as follows:

“Whereas China has declared that in its exports of nuclear material and equipment, it will require the recipient countries to accept safeguards by the

International Atomic Energy Agency...and that nuclear material and equipment imported to China will only be used for peaceful purposes.”

Annual Report for 1990, GC(XXXV)/953, IAEA, Vienna (1991) 140.

By the end of 1995, the NSG included all nuclear exporters amongst the industrial

States and Argentina, South Africa and the Republic of Korea. But China was not a member.

With one significant exception, however. The Tlatelolco Treaty, like other regional treaties creating nuclear weapon free zones, does not derogate from the right of innocent passage of naval vessels carrying nuclear warheads.

Agreement on the “Exclusively Peaceful Utilization of Nuclear Energy”.

Document GOV/OR.772.

Annual Report for 1994, GC(39)/3, IAEA, Vienna (1995), p. 3.

FISCHER, D., The Regional Track for the Last Three NPT Holdouts — Israel, India and

Pakistan, Programme for Promoting Nuclear Non-Proliferation, Issue Review No. 5,

Mountbatten Centre for International Studies, Department of Politics, University of Southampton, Southampton (May 1995).

Annual Report for 1995, GC(40)/8, IAEA, Vienna (1996) 70.

Ibid., p. 64.

Annual Report for 1995, p. 71, footnote a.

Professor Baxter, the first head of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, was known to be a proponent of a nuclear Australia, and at least one of his colleagues



















129 shared his views. Since the 1960s, Australia has become one of the strongest proponents of non-proliferation, strict safeguards and nuclear export controls.

Annual Report for 1995, p. 45.

The General Conference’s request was made in its resolution GC(XXXII)RES/494, see Annual Report for 1988, p. 9, para. 37.

Document GOV/INF/773, p. 1, para. 2.

Document GOV/INF/773.

In studying non-radioactive pollution, the Marine Environment Laboratory makes use of the techniques developed by nuclear science.

Annual Report for 1995, pp. 4–5 and Box 3.

Annual Report for 1991, GC(XXXVI)/1004, IAEA, Vienna (1992) 1.

Annual Report for 1992, p. 1.

Zero growth continued to be enjoined in 1996.


Safety, Challenges Facing the International Atomic Energy Agency, Report to the

Chairman, Committee on Governmental Affairs, US Senate, GAO/NSIAD/

RCED-93-284 (September 1993) 6.

Ibid., pp. 65–66.

The guidelines are set out in document INFCIRC/225/Rev. 3.

As noted elsewhere, this is 8 kg of plutonium, or 25 kg of HEU, or its equivalent.

It is well known that countries that have long standing nuclear weapon programmes use only a half or less than half of these quantities for their nuclear weapons and that a country advanced in the use of nuclear energy would need much less, but these are not likely to be the target customers of nuclear smugglers!

Summary Listing of Incidents Involving Illicit Trafficking in Nuclear Materials and Other

Radioactive Sources — 4th Quarter 1996, attached to the IAEA’s letter of 29 January

1997, Reference N4.11.42.

The following material is based chiefly on “Combating illicit trafficking of nuclear material and other radioactive sources”, IAEA Yearbook 1996, IAEA, Vienna (1996)

E17–E27 and on “Security of material”, Annual Report for 1995, p. 49.

Document GOV/2773 of 24 November 1994, Attachment, para. 1.7. In this document the Director General gave a report to the Board on what the IAEA had done and could do to help governments prevent or take action in response to trafficking and sought the Board’s approval of additional IAEA activities.

In October 1996, the IAEA distributed its first periodic authoritative listing of incidents involving trafficking — in other words, incidents verified and confirmed by the State concerned.


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 5







Annual Report for 1995, p. 49. By the end of 1996, the number of participating countries had risen to 47 and it included almost all nations with a programme in nuclear energy or producing nuclear materials.

This is, of course, a controversial question. In the author’s view the more sensationalist media tend to exaggerate the gravity of these incidents and the danger that a group of terrorists would be technically able to make a nuclear weapon. The reports that the governments of so-called ‘rogue’ States are anxious to obtain smuggled material are unsubstantiated and not very convincing. For any government the political consequences of being caught dealing in a nuclear black market would be very grave. Moreover, until now all States that have launched nuclear weapon programmes have been interested in acquiring the ability to make nuclear warheads in series, rather than the material needed for one or two bombs.

The same pattern continued on a reduced scale in 1996.

For a more extensive discussion of the incidents that have been reported, see

HIBBS, M., “No plutonium smuggling cases confirmed by IAEA since Munich”,

Nucleonics Week (6 March 1997).

The conference was jointly sponsored by the European Commission, the IAEA and

WHO and was held in co-operation with the UN, UNESCO, UNEP, UNSCEAR, FAO and OECD/NEA. The President of the conference was Angela Merkel, German

Minister for the Environment.

Amongst the findings of the Conference were the following:

— 237 persons were admitted to hospital and in 134 cases acute radiation syndrome was diagnosed. Within three months 30 members of the plant’s staff and the firemen had died, 28 persons died of acute radiation injuries and two more from injuries unrelated to radiation. (One Decade After Chernobyl, Summing up

the Consequences of the Accident, Summary of the Conference Results, IAEA, Vienna

(1996), p. 6, para. 12.).

— The “only clear evidence to date of a public health impact of radiation exposure”, was “a highly significant increase in the incidence of thyroid cancer” amongst persons who were still children in 1986. By April 1996, three had died

(One Decade After Chernobyl, pp. 7 and 8, paras 15 and 21; and the Annual Report

for 1996, GC(41)/8, IAEA, Vienna (1997), p. 3, Box 3).

— Amongst the longer term health effects, “leukaemia, a rare disease, is a major concern after radiation exposure” and among “the 7.1 million residents of the

‘contaminated’ territories and ‘strict control zone’, the number of fatal cancers is be of the order of 6600 over the next 85 years against a spontaneous number of 870 000 deaths due to cancer.” (One Decade After Chernobyl,


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A p. 9, paras 25–26). There had been no increase in the incidence of other cancers or hereditary effects that could be attributed to the accident.

— There were numerous psychological disorders amongst the affected population, but it was difficult to distinguish such disorders from the effects of economic and social hardship in the region; no sustained severe impact on ecosystems had so far been observed, though continuing attention must be given to the ‘sarcophagus’ around the destroyed reactor.









Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive

Waste Management”, IAEA document GOV/2916.

Annual Report for 1995, p. 2.




In recognition of the assistance provided by the IAEA in drafting the Treaty, Blix and the IAEA’s Assistant Director General for External Relations, Mohamed

ElBaradei, were invited to attend the signing ceremony.

Annual Report for 1996, p. 5.

In 1997, the Preparatory Commission of the CTBT Organization, which will verify compliance with the Treaty, set up office at the Vienna International Centre.



C h a p t e r 6


T h e f i r s t s t e p s

A t the beginning of 1944, one year after the world’s first reactor went critical, Enrico Fermi and his colleagues began to work on a small test facility to demonstrate the validity of the breeding principle. On

20 December 1951, nuclear heat was transformed into electrical energy for the first time in a small (1.1 MW(th)) experimental breeder reactor, EBR-1, in

Idaho in the USA. But the development of nuclear power began in earnest only after the world’s first nuclear power plant was brought into commercial operation in Obninsk in the USSR in 1954 (powered by a light water cooled, graphite moderated 5 MW(e) reactor), when the first British gas cooled, graphite moderated power reactor at Calder Hall (50 MW(e)) went critical in

May 1956 and the first US pressurized water cooled and moderated power reactor at Shippingport (90 MW(e)) went critical in December 1957.

L a u n c h i n g o f t h e A g e n c y ’ s p r o g r a m m e

As noted in Chapter 4, the Preparatory Commission (Prepcom) of the

Agency, which functioned from November 1956 until October 1957, had made a considerably more sober judgement of the prospects for nuclear power than the optimistic assessment of Eisenhower when he launched the concept of an international atomic energy agency in December 1953 and the even more euphoric forecasts of the first Geneva Conference in summer 1955.

In fact the Prepcom was at somewhat of a loss as to know what it should recommend on this subject in the IAEA’s Initial Programme. Obviously the

IAEA would not command the investment capital needed to promote the use of nuclear power in the industrialized nations by building demonstration power reactors as some national nuclear energy authorities were doing. In the end the Prepcom recommended that the Agency encourage the exchange of scientific and technical information on reactor technology, provide advice, promote training, evaluate reactor projects and carry out feasibility studies. It might also launch a special programme for the construction of a limited number


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 6 of reactors at locations to be decided by the Board of Governors for purposes of training, research, materials testing and the production of electricity. The

IAEA could not itself finance such a programme but would need to look to outside sources.


Nothing came of this proposal.

From 1958 onwards, one of the main aims of the IAEA’s nuclear power programme was to encourage the development of smaller nuclear power reactors suitable for use in developing countries. At that time ‘small’ reactors were taken to mean those generating up to 50 MW(e) (the industrialized countries were beginning to build reactors two or three times that size). The search for the elusive ‘small’ or ‘medium sized’ power reactor was to continue up to the present time,

2 but the reactors called ‘small’ and ‘medium’ were to keep on growing in size.

In September 1958, the second session of the IAEA General Conference specifically asked the Secretariat to study the power requirements of the developing countries and the technology and costs of smaller reactors and help train developing country personnel in the use of nuclear power.


By the end of 1959, 20 Member States, many of them ‘developing’, had asked the

IAEA to advise them on the possible use of nuclear power.

In 1958, the IAEA embarked in a modest way on its statutory role of broker for the supply of nuclear reactor fuel. On 23 September of that year

Japan requested the IAEA to provide three tons of natural uranium in metallic form for the Japanese 10 MW(th) research reactor, JRR-3. The Board invited those States that had offered nuclear materials to submit tenders for the fuel.

Canada offered, in effect, to donate the fuel to the IAEA; the offer was accepted and the Board approved the first supply and project agreements between the

IAEA and a Member State.


This transaction set a pattern for the future — the

IAEA was the nominal supplier but the uranium was sent directly from

Canada to Japan. As noted in Chapter 8, this transaction also triggered the first application of IAEA safeguards. The fact that natural uranium was readily available on the open market and the amount requested was only half the fuel that the reactor required, and the various statements by Japanese spokesmen all made it clear that the purpose of the request was to set in motion the IAEA procedures for approving Agency projects, for exercising its supply function and for applying safeguards.


Subsequently, Finland requested the IAEA to help it acquire a small research reactor (a TRIGA Mark II) and to arrange for supplies of enriched fuel for the reactor and for a critical assembly. Austria made a similar request for fuel for ‘ASTRA’, its 10 MW(th) research reactor.




In 1961–1963, the IAEA Secretariat made its first studies of national nuclear power projects in the Philippines (for which a feasibility study was subsequently approved by the United Nations Special Fund),

7 in Yugoslavia for a ‘demonstration’ power reactor, and in Pakistan, the Republic of Korea and Thailand for nuclear power plants. Of these States, the Republic of Korea,

Pakistan and the former Yugoslavia have since built and operated power reactors.


T h e G e n e v a C o n f e r e n c e s

As we have noted, the United Nations convened a ground breaking international conference in Geneva in 1955 on the peaceful uses of atomic energy. That conference heard the Soviet Union’s report on operating experience with the first prototype nuclear reactor (the Obninsk reactor referred to previously) as well as reports on various prototype power reactors under construction in several industrialized countries. In September 1958, Dag

Hammarskjöld convened a second and much larger ‘Geneva Conference’.

Sigvard Eklund, the future Director General of the IAEA, served as its

Secretary General. About 5000 delegates took part and over 2150 papers were submitted. The Conference confirmed that the optimism of the early 1950s about the prospects for cheap nuclear power was beginning to flag. In reporting on the results of the Conference to the Board, Sterling Cole said that no

“exceptionally novel communications” were submitted. Bertrand Goldschmidt commented on the “excessive increase” in the number of participants and recommended that the agenda of any future large conference be limited to the

“problems of atomic energy” and that the IAEA should begin convening smaller conferences on specialized nuclear topics.


Both recommendations became IAEA policy and from the 1958 Conference the Agency learned a good deal about how to run a scientific meeting.

The timing of the 1958 Conference was unfortunate from the point of view of the IAEA. It did not yet have “a Secretariat capable of plausibly asserting, against the strong opposition of the Secretary General, its ability to assist the conference significantly.”


In other words, the Conference showed that the

IAEA did not yet have a commanding position in nuclear energy matters within the UN system and that a major project could be carried out without its help.


U Thant, the Burmese diplomat who succeeded Hammarskjöld as

Secretary General after the latter’s death in an air crash (in what was then


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 6

Northern Rhodesia) was less interested than his predecessor in maintaining the role of the United Nations in the development of the civilian uses of nuclear energy. In August–September 1964, U Thant convened the third Conference in this series, appointed the Soviet representative on the IAEA’s Board of

Governors, Vassily Emelyanov, as President of the Conference and entrusted responsibility for the scientific aspects of the meeting to Eklund, who had now been Director General of the IAEA since 1961. In all, 3600 members of delegations and observers took part in the meeting, substantially fewer than in 1958.


Unlike the first two Geneva Conferences, the third focused on a single topic, nuclear power, and it signalled the start of a new international race towards nuclear power.

The Conference also marked the acceptance by the United Nations of the IAEA’s primary role amongst UN agencies in the civilian use of nuclear energy; as we have seen, this was a role that Hammarskjöld had been reluctant to concede when Sterling Cole headed the Agency. The meeting demonstrated that the IAEA had also been accepted by governments and industry as the leading international body for promoting nuclear energy and nuclear safety, and it thus gave a new thrust to the IAEA’s work in these fields.

From 6 to 16 September 1971, the fourth and last Geneva Conference focused on the commercialization of nuclear power and the practical problems of integrating nuclear power into national economies but also, significantly, on the impact of nuclear power on the environment.


Participants from developing countries “confirmed considerable interest in small and medium sized reactors that would best fit into their electrical grids.”



Conference was jointly sponsored by the United Nations and the IAEA, with the latter publishing its proceedings. Dr. Glenn Seaborg, the US scientist who was the first person to produce and identify plutonium and who gave it its name, served as President of the Conference, which attracted over

4000 participants.

1 9 6 0 t o t h e e a r l y 1 9 7 0 s :

T h e b o o m i n n u c l e a r p o w e r

By the early 1960s, demonstration power reactors were in operation in all the leading industrial countries, although the economic competitiveness of nuclear energy was still in question.


But in December 1963, the General

Electric Company of the USA put in a bid for the construction of a nuclear


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A power plant at Oyster Creek, New Jersey, at a price that would clearly make it competitive with any coal or oil fired plant.


This striking offer came as a surprise to the electrical and nuclear industries, launched a wave of optimism about the future of nuclear power and set the tone for the third Geneva Conference in 1964. On the basis of reports given to the Conference it was foreseen that by the turn of the century “more than half the electric power requirements of some large industrial countries will be met by nuclear electricity.”


It was also expected that by 1980, 167 000 MW(e) of nuclear generating capacity would be installed (within a year this estimate had risen to 200 000 MW(e)).


By 1967, US utilities alone had ordered more than 50 power reactors, with an aggregate capacity larger than that of all orders in the USA for coal and oil fired plants.


Although estimates of the amount of nuclear power that would be installed by 1980 continued to rise,

20 in many ways the 1964 Geneva

Conference marked the high tide of optimism about the future use of major nuclear technologies, not only for generating electricity but also for seawater desalination and for propelling merchant ships. There were more modest expectations about the share of total installed nuclear capacity that would fall to nations ‘outside the main industrial countries’: it would be less than 5% by

1980 according to the IAEA’s Annual Report for 1968–1969.


At first, the 1970s witnessed a steady rise in orders for nuclear power plants. The Arab–Israeli war of 1973 led to an oil boycott by the Arab States and this, in turn, caused a fourfold increase in the price of oil and provoked a record spate of orders.


However, by 1975 the curve of orders had already passed its peak. From 1974 to 1975 the volume of orders dropped abruptly from 75 000 MW(e) to 28 000 MW(e).


The IAEA’s Annual Report for 1975 called the decline temporary, attributing it to economic recession, rising capital and fuel costs and environmental concerns.


Nonetheless, in 1975 the IAEA was still forecasting that the world’s installed nuclear capacity would reach 1.0–1.3 million MW(e) by 1990 and 3.6–5.3 million MW(e) by



In fact, by the end of 1995, the world’s total capacity stood at only

344 422 MW(e),

26 or less than one tenth of the 1974–1975 lower estimate for the year 2000. It was also clear that the growth in capacity between 1995 and

2000 would be modest.

It should be pointed out that the IAEA was not alone in overstating the prospects for nuclear power growth. The independent forecasts of other international bodies such as the International Institute for Applied Systems

Analysis and the OECD’s (E)NEA were equally wide of the mark.


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 6

U r a n i u m a n d t h o r i u m r e s e r v e s a n d c o n s u m p t i o n

In 1965, the IAEA joined the ENEA in compiling periodic surveys of the known reserves of uranium and estimated current and future consumption.

The surveys did not cover Eastern Europe, the USSR or China, for which no public statistics of reserves or consumption were available. The two agencies published their first joint report in December 1967.


Concern that the world might run short of uranium also stimulated some interest in the other naturally occurring element that could provide a source of nuclear power, namely thorium.


This is ten times more common in the earth’s crust than uranium and there are particularly large thorium deposits in India and Brazil. By 1965, three thorium based reactors were in operation in the USA and in June that year an IAEA panel reviewed the use of thorium as a reactor fuel.


But despite the expectations of the 1960s and thorium’s relative abundance and its attractive technical and economic features, it failed to emerge as a significant nuclear fuel and is still not used today in any nuclear power reactor in operation or under construction. One obvious reason is that with the continuing surplus of uranium and sharp fall in its price the incentive to develop a new nuclear fuel and fuel cycle remained very low during the 1980s and early 1990s. Already by 1981 it was clear that the market for uranium was beginning to go into glut. Its price had dropped from about $40/lb U



8 at the beginning of 1980 to $23.5–$25.0/lb in 1981 and many uranium workings had been cut back or stopped.


This trend continued throughout the rest of the period covered by this history.

T h e p r i m a c y o f t h e l i g h t w a t e r r e a c t o r

The 1970s also witnessed the growing preference in many countries for the light water nuclear power reactor, using low enriched uranium as its fuel and ordinary water as its coolant and moderator. The light water reactor was built originally to a US design in Western countries (in the USA as part of a propulsion unit for nuclear warships) and to a similar Soviet design in the

USSR and Eastern European countries.

Almost from the start of their nuclear power programmes, the light water reactor was the preferred choice of the Federal Republic of Germany,

Spain, Sweden and subsequently Japan. France and the United Kingdom,


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A however, originally chose a different concept, the gas graphite reactor using natural (unenriched) uranium as its fuel, moderated by graphite and cooled by carbon dioxide. The reasons for the French and British choices were threefold. It was not clear at first that the light water reactor would be the cheapest nuclear source of electricity. Indeed, when the United Kingdom commissioned the Calder Hall plant, the British nuclear authorities believed they had stolen a march on their US colleagues and potential competitors. Secondly, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, neither France nor the United Kingdom had its own enrichment plant and choosing the light water reactor would have made them dependent on the USA for fuel. Thirdly, the earlier gas graphite reactors were also good sources of weapon grade plutonium and both countries used it for this purpose. In the case of the United Kingdom, some early reactors of this type were dual purpose, producing both electricity and military plutonium.

(A French gas graphite research reactor also became the source of unsafeguarded plutonium at Dimona in Israel.)

In the late 1960s, at the urging of France’s State owned generating corporation, Electricité de France, the French authorities abandoned the gas graphite cycle and turned to light water power reactors, building them at first under licence from Westinghouse. In the late 1980s, the United Kingdom followed suit with its first order for a light water reactor. In the meantime the

United Kingdom (alone) had built a number of ‘advanced gas cooled reactors’ and had experimented with other designs.

The Soviet Union built two types of power reactor, light water reactors in the WWER series of Soviet design, but similar in basic concept to the US

Westinghouse reactor, and the RBMK, the type made conspicuous by

Chernobyl. The Soviet Union exported only the WWER light water power reactors and then only to its allies in the Warsaw Pact and to Finland and

Cuba. The construction of the Cuban reactor was eventually suspended, but may now be renewed.

One country, Canada, successfully marketed a quite different nuclear power reactor, the CANDU (Canada deuterium–uranium), using natural uranium (as a rule) as its fuel and heavy water as its coolant and moderator.

The CANDU reactor had its origin in research reactors built in 1944 and 1945, when Canada was a partner with the USA and the United Kingdom in the development of nuclear weapons.


The CANDUs owed much of their success to W.B. Lewis, the British born Vice-President for Research and

Development of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited in the 1960s,

32 long time chairman of the IAEA’s Scientific Advisory Committee and indefatigable


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 6 proponent of the heavy water reactor. Canada built some 20 CANDUs to generate much of its own electricity and sold CANDUs to India, Pakistan,

Argentina, Romania, China and the Republic of Korea, as well as NRX type research reactors (a prototype of the CANDU) to India and Taiwan, the former being the source of the plutonium for the Indian nuclear explosion of 1974. The fuel of light water reactors is changed at intervals of up to 15 months or more, while the CANDUs (and gas graphite and RBMK) reactors are continuously fuelled (‘on-load’ or ‘on-line’ fuelling).

The IAEA does not influence the choice that countries make between reactors of various designs, but the decisions sometimes had implications for the IAEA’s safety programme. For instance, the Soviet Union’s acceptance of the RBMK design, and its failure — despite the warning given by the Three

Mile Island accident — to correct certain identified design defects, was one of the main causes of Chernobyl and led to a major setback for nuclear power.

The choice of reactor also has implications for IAEA safeguards. An on-line refuelled safeguarded reactor requires more intensive inspection than does a reactor in which the fuel is changed at intervals of a year or more. Large

‘research’ or dual purpose or ‘dedicated’ reactors fuelled with natural uranium and moderated by graphite or heavy water have been the source of most of the plutonium used in nuclear test explosions and warheads. The acquisition of a research reactor of this type may thus be the precursor of a military programme, as it was in Israel and may have been in India.

It was thus also significant that the Democratic People’s Republic of

Korea (DPRK) chose the natural uranium gas graphite design for its main research reactor and its prototype power reactors, and that one of the chief objects of the “Agreed Framework” accepted by the DPRK in 1994 (see

Chapter 8) was to put an end to the operation of the existing reactor and to stop further construction by the DPRK of gas graphite reactors, replacing them, in effect, by two large light water power reactors.

T h e p e a c e f u l u s e s o f n u c l e a r e x p l o s i o n s :

A d i s c r e d i t e d t e c h n o l o g y ?

In the 1960s and early 1970s, the USA and the Soviet Union constantly extolled the benefits to be derived from the peaceful uses of nuclear explosions, the so-called ‘PNEs’.


It has been suggested that, at least in the case of the USA, and perhaps in the case of the Soviet Union and the United



Kingdom, exaggerating the potential value of PNEs was a stratagem used by the weapon laboratories to defend the need for nuclear testing, which Kennedy,

Khrushchev and Macmillan wanted to discontinue. Similar suspicions arose in

1995–1996 about attempts to preserve the right to carry out PNEs under a comprehensive test ban treaty, but the enthusiasm of the 1960s for this technology may equally have had its roots in the nuclear euphoria of the time.


Whether or not ulterior motives played a part, the US and Soviet boosting of PNEs made them a major issue at the 1968 Conference of Non-Nuclear-

Weapon States and in the drafting of the Tlatelolco and Non-Proliferation

Treaties. The NPT devotes one of its longest and most detailed articles

(Article V) to the peaceful uses of nuclear explosions. Argentina’s and Brazil’s proclaimed right under the Tlatelolco Treaty to carry out PNEs became a major impediment to the conclusion of the comprehensive safeguards agreements with the IAEA that are called for by that Treaty.


In the 1970s, India and South Africa used the supposed benefits to be derived from PNEs as a justification for developing nuclear explosive technology, which is basically the same whether the explosive is used in a weapon or to dig a canal.

The IAEA’s work on PNEs began in 1968 when the General Conference called for a report on the Agency’s responsibilities to provide services in connection with nuclear explosions for peaceful purposes.


Under the NPT only the five recognized nuclear weapon States have the right to carry out a PNE.

The IAEA and the United Nations General Assembly agreed that the IAEA was the “appropriate international body” referred to but not named in Article V of the NPT through which the supposed benefits would be obtained. It was also agreed that the IAEA was the organization — again not named in Article V

— that should ensure that PNEs were “appropriately” observed. It turned out that the chief purpose of such observation was to ensure that there was no transfer of nuclear explosive technology from the nuclear weapon State carrying out the explosion.


In late 1970, the Board of Governors convened a working group which prepared a set of guidelines for such observation, which the Board subsequently approved.


The chief reason for not naming the IAEA in Article V of the NPT when the Treaty was being drafted in 1965–1968 was that the developing countries on the ENDC

39 suspected that the Agency was unduly compliant with the wishes of the superpowers and they wanted to keep the door open for the creation of a new organization more responsive to the needs of developing countries. In retrospect, it is remarkable that serious consideration should have been given to creating another agency for the purpose of promoting


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 6 what turned out to be a failed technology. Perhaps one reason was that the two superpowers themselves had done so much to boost this idea.

Throughout the 1970s, many nations maintained a lively interest in the civilian uses of nuclear explosions and they eventually accepted that the IAEA should play a leading role in the international application of the technology.

In December 1972, the United Nations General Assembly commended the

IAEA for its work on this subject and asked it to set up a service to arrange for such explosions under international control.


In 1975, Director General

Eklund established a unit in the Secretariat (consisting, however, of a single official) to deal with requests for PNE services such as information, and feasibility, safety and economic studies. In June 1975, the Board set up an advisory group, open to all Member States, to recommend procedures for dealing with Member State requests, to propose the structure and content of the agreements to be concluded with States supplying and receiving such services and to address any other question within the IAEA’s competence such as safety, the economics of PNEs and comparisons between PNEs and conventional alternatives.


Although a few States sought information or advice from the Secretariat about the possibility of using PNEs,

42 no formal request for a PNE was confirmed and no need ever arose for either “appropriate international observation” or for a PNE service. In due course the PNE unit in the IAEA was quietly disbanded.

In the end, only the USA and the USSR, and conceivably India, carried out any PNEs.


The 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty had already marked the end of any explosions that would disperse substantial fallout (as would building a canal or harbour). The USA abandoned its programme in the late

1970s and the Soviet Union carried out its last PNE in the late 1980s.

T h e c a m p a i g n a g a i n s t r e p r o c e s s i n g

In May 1977, the IAEA celebrated its twentieth birthday by holding a conference in Salzburg on nuclear power and its fuel cycle, about which there was still much optimism. In a sense this meeting, in which more than

2000 persons took part, was a successor, in fact the only successor, to the four

Geneva Conferences. There was a consensus at Salzburg that more uranium resource efficient reactors — in other words fast breeder reactors — would eventually be needed and with them more reprocessing plants.



This view was not shared by the science and technology spokesman for

US President Carter in Salzburg, Joseph Nye.


One of the highlights of the conference was a luncheon talk in which Professor Nye informed a somewhat shaken audience of heads of national nuclear energy commissions about the new nuclear power policy of the Carter Administration. As noted, this was to abandon the fast breeder reactor as the goal of nuclear (fission) power programmes, and to put a stop to reprocessing and the separation of plutonium.

Instead, the USA would favour the ‘once-through’ fuel cycle: spent nuclear fuel would be stored and eventually permanently disposed of in unreprocessed form. Nye’s luncheon talk foreshadowed the end of the Clinch

River fast breeder reactor and the Barnwell reprocessing plant, both then under construction in the USA.

The new policy was fated to bring the USA into protracted disagreement with its allies in Western Europe and with Japan. Like Director General

Eklund himself, most heads of national nuclear energy authorities still saw reprocessing and breeder reactors as the only way of making full use of the energy content of natural uranium and of ensuring an almost inexhaustible source of energy for electricity production.


They also argued that as the radioactivity of spent fuel stores declined, such stores would become ‘plutonium mines’: in other words, relatively accessible sources of plutonium for nuclear weapons, becoming steadily more accessible as time passed.

S m a l l a n d m e d i u m s i z e d p o w e r r e a c t o r s

We have noted the encouragement that the first General Conference in

1957 gave to the development of small and medium sized power reactors. In the late 1960s, it was becoming clear that for reasons of economy the trend was towards ever larger nuclear power plants. If developing countries were to make full use of nuclear power, it would be necessary to persuade manufacturers to offer plants in the range of 100–500 MW(e) and preferably closer to 100 MW(e).


To encourage manufacturers to do so, the IAEA carried out a survey in

1968–1969 of what the potential market in the developing countries would be by 1975–1980 for smaller plants in the 100–500 MW(e) range and of the capital investment that the developing countries would need to build these plants.


The survey concluded that the developing countries expected to install 20 000 to

25 000 MW(e) of nuclear plants between 1970 and 1980 and a further 25 000 to

35 000 MW(e) between 1980 and 1985.


Despite the fact that the definition of


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 6

‘smaller’ had grown fourfold or more since the pursuit of these elusive reactors began in 1958, these projections proved to be badly wrong. Depending on the definition of ‘developing country’, the total combined nuclear capacity of Latin

American, South and East Asian and African developing countries was less than 10 000 MW(e) by 1985 — including the Republic of Korea (2720 MW(e))

South Africa (1840 MW(e)) and Taiwan (4918 MW(e)). If the Republic of Korea and Taiwan are left out, the total in 1985 amounted to less than 5000 MW(e).


It was also clear that there were wide variations between the estimates of the capital cost of a nuclear plant in the country of manufacture and a similar plant in an importing country. Moreover, the noticeable trend towards higher capital and lower fuel costs for both conventional and nuclear plants worked in favour of fossil fuel. This made it more difficult to offset the significantly higher capital cost of a nuclear power plant by its lower fuel cost.


In 1972, the IAEA launched another attempt to help developing countries assess the potential of nuclear power, once again in the form of a survey of the developing country market for smaller plants. (The survey made use for the first time of a computer package — the ‘WASP’ package referred to later.)


The Secretariat presented the results of the survey to the General

Conference in September 1973; it concluded that in the 14 countries surveyed, there could be a market for about 100 nuclear power plants in the size of

600 MW(e) or larger.


A 1974 article in the IAEA Bulletin went much further; it maintained that if the price of oil remained at $6–7 per barrel or higher, nuclear plants of 100 MW(e) would become economically competitive and the potential number of plant orders would be over 205 in 44 developing countries, including three plants in Uganda and two in Liberia.


However, nuclear manufacturers, flooded with orders for larger plants, showed little enthusiasm for smaller ones. Those developing countries that were in the market for nuclear power — Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, South

Africa, Iran, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea and Taiwan — had sufficiently large grids or electrical networks to accommodate nuclear plants of standard sizes — about 500–1000 MW(e). There was one notable exception —

India — which, in line with its policy of self-sufficiency, went on building replicas of the two relatively small (220 MW(e)) natural uranium heavy water reactors it had bought from Canada in the 1960s.


In 1984, the Secretariat launched a new survey to determine the availability of and market for smaller plants. Sixteen manufacturers provided data on 24 designs that could be offered commercially at that time or within the next ten years and 15 developing countries provided information about their


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A requirements.


In June 1985, Director General Hans Blix informed the Board of Governors that the first phase of the survey had been completed; the finding was that while in the past practically no smaller reactors had been commercially available, 26 designs of plants smaller than 600 MW(e) were now on offer, several technically mature and proven. In fact, a number of power reactors in this range had been in successful operation in the Soviet Union.


But “buyer countries in the developing world were hesitating because they required clear evidence that these reactors would be economical in their individual circumstances.”


In 1987, an updated report of the project concluded that further progress in introducing smaller power reactors could only come as a result of country specific studies involving potential customers, suppliers and the IAEA, but no country had shown any interest in such studies and the IAEA had not been able to obtain reliable data on the cost of such plants from potential suppliers.


Since then the only new smaller reactor design that developing countries have ordered or are themselves building is the Chinese pressurized light water reactor rated at 300 MW(e), one built at Qinshan in China and one under construction at Chashma in Pakistan (it is understood that the Chinese reactor is a prototype of a 600 MW(e) design).

Developing countries continue to be interested in the use of smaller units but, according to the IAEA’s Annual Report for 1995, interest is turning to uses other than electricity production, such as the use of very small reactors for desalting sea water (see below) and district heating. Some industrialized countries have considered the construction of small reactors as prototypes for the more effective recovery of oil, for gasifying coal and producing methanol.


China is reported to be building 200 MW(th) nuclear units for district heating. However, it may take much time and work to overcome public resistance and to show whether nuclear energy can be used more cheaply and effectively than other technologies for such purposes. Strong public resistance compelled the Russian nuclear authorities to stop or suspend the construction of reactors for district heating in Gorki and Novovoronezh.

Today, more than forty years after the IAEA began seeking it, the small nuclear power plant has still not materialized — except in the form of the

200–220 MW(e) reactors that India, and India alone, has built since the late

1960s, a few other reactors that survive from the 1960s and a variety of smaller

Soviet reactors including those of the WWER-440 MW(e) type.


However, the latter were not widely known and appreciated outside the Soviet Union


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 6 and a few other, chiefly Eastern European, countries. The Soviet Union was not active or successful in putting these achievements to commercial use in more countries.

The ‘small or medium sized’ plant had grown from less than 50 MW(e) in the late 1950s to as high as 600 MW(e) in 1984–1985. The top of that range is not much smaller than the lower range of the nuclear power plants under construction today, namely, 700–1500 MW(e).


The regions of the world where nuclear power is slowly expanding, Eastern and South East Asia and, to some extent, Central Europe, are not likely to need small plants.


N u c l e a r d e s a l t i n g a n d t h e ‘ a g r o - i n d u s t r i a l c o m p l e x ’

During the 1960s and early 1970s, there was a strong surge of interest in the use of nuclear power for desalting sea water, using the fresh water to grow irrigated crops and simultaneously using the reactor’s heat to generate electricity (in a so-called ‘agro-industrial complex’). The prospect of turning the deserts green has universal appeal and the potential use of nuclear energy for this purpose fired the public’s imagination. Both Presidents Kennedy and

Johnson were personally interested in nuclear desalting technology and in

1964 President Johnson highlighted the technology in a so-called ‘Water for

Peace’ programme. In March 1963, a group of consultants mapped out for the

Agency a programme of work on nuclear desalting

63 and Chile, Greece,

Mexico, Peru, Taiwan, Tunisia and Turkey subsequently turned to the IAEA for advice on this subject.


In 1964, at the third Geneva Conference, the USA announced that it had started an “aggressive and imaginative programme to advance progress in large scale desalting of sea water.” The USSR and USA concluded an agreement in November 1964 for co-operation in nuclear desalting and undertook to keep the IAEA fully briefed on the progress they made.

Experts from the IAEA staff took part in US consultations with the

United Arab Republic (Egypt), Israel and Tunisia about the construction of dual purpose generating/desalting plants. US technologists and diplomats put forward the idea of a ‘Middle East Nuclear Desalination’ (MEND) plant that would supply Egypt and Israel with plentiful fresh water and provide a framework for peaceful co-operation between two hostile countries. The USA and Mexico planned to build a large dual purpose plant near the head of the



Gulf of California to provide 190 000 cubic metres of fresh water a day and generate 1600 MW(e). The Soviets actually built a smaller dual purpose plant incorporating a fast breeder reactor on the Caspian Sea at Shevchenko, (now

Aktau, Kazakstan — see also the section of this chapter dealing with breeder reactors).


In October 1965, the IAEA convened the first international symposium on nuclear desalting. US experts now injected a note of realism into the discussions. They reported that the study of the plant that the USA and Mexico had planned to build had shown that, even on favourable assumptions, the cost of desalting would work out at about six US cents per cubic metre of fresh water. For large scale agricultural use the cost of water should be of the order of one to two cents. The US experts concluded that nuclear desalting could become economically attractive “...only if the nuclear fuel cycle costs and the capital cost of reactors [as well as other associated costs] are substantially lowered.”


Faced with discouraging economics, interest in nuclear desalting began to flag and large projects for the use of the technology were quietly shelved.

Except for the Soviet/Kazak plant, none left the drawing board. As the cost of nuclear power went up in the 1980s and the real cost of oil and natural gas went down, the prospects for large scale nuclear desalting seemed to recede still further.

However, in recent years interest in this use of nuclear energy has revived, but more realistically, as a possible means of producing potable

(drinkable) water, and not the large quantities of very cheap water that would be needed for farming or industry. In 1988, on the initiative of a number of

North African and other Arab countries, the General Conference again took up this question in the form of a resolution entitled ‘Plan for the Production of Low Cost Potable Water’.


In 1992, the Secretariat produced a report that concluded that the best option was “large nuclear plants integrated into the

[national electric] grid and supplying electricity to separately located desalination plants using reverse osmosis [as the technology for producing drinkable water].”


The General Conference discussed the matter again in 1993 and 1994 and called for further studies and more donations of funds by interested governments.


An IAEA regional study of the feasibility of nuclear desalting in North

Africa, completed in 1995, concluded that the use of nuclear energy for the production of potable water “is technically feasible and the costs are competitive with those of fossil fuelled plants in the region.”


The renewed


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 6 interest in nuclear desalting shown by the countries of North Africa, the

Maghreb and the Middle East is understandable in view of their acute need for more fresh water for growing urban populations.

S h r i n k i n g n u c l e a r p r o g r a m m e s i n t h e W e s t

One of the reasons why the IAEA’s projections of future nuclear power growth were so wide of the mark was that they consisted largely of aggregations of the over-optimistic forecasts by national authorities. With time, the

IAEA’s projections became more realistic. Today both the IAEA and national authorities follow the more cautious practice of giving not only widely differing upper and lower figures for a date some 20 years ahead, but also of stressing that the figures do not purport to be predictive and of describing the major causes of uncertainty.


Towards the end of the 1970s the shrinking flow of nuclear power orders in the USA dried up completely, and it has not revived. The most obvious cause was the Three Mile Island accident in March 1979 — despite the fact that the accident caused no loss of life or injury to human health.


During that year, 1979, earlier orders for 14 power reactors were cancelled and, in the following years, US utilities continued to cancel orders they had already placed. By 1980, the IAEA’s Annual Report noted that “if present trends are not reversed, a general slow-down in nuclear power programmes must be expected after 1990.”


The Annual Report for 1983 was even more pessimistic, warning of the possibility of “severe difficulties for the nuclear industry in the second half of this decade.”


Nonetheless, until the Chernobyl accident in 1986, politicians in the West and elsewhere continued to affirm their confidence in nuclear power. At the

July 1981 summit in Ottawa the leaders of the G-7 nations — the world’s seven leading industrial nations — proclaimed that “...we intend in each of our countries to encourage greater acceptance of nuclear energy...” In the same year the Prime Minister of India informed the United Nations Conference on

New and Renewable Sources of Energy in Nairobi that “nuclear energy is the only power source able to meet India’s demands and, unless we have something positive to take its place, we cannot talk of replacing it.”


Several milestones of a sort were passed during the 1980s. As noted below, the first commercial sized fast breeder reactor went on line in 1980; the second, with more than double the power of the first, went on line in 1986.



But several other fast breeder reactor projects were cancelled. In 1989, Germany stopped the construction of its first large reprocessing plant at Wackersdorf in

Bavaria. It was to have been the third major plant in Western Europe for reprocessing spent fuel from light water reactors, the other two being at La Hague in

France and Sellafield in the United Kingdom. In the same year the USSR suspended the construction of a large reprocessing plant in Siberia.


The number of new power reactor construction starts in the world declined from 18 in 1985 to four in 1986 — the year of Chernobyl — and hovered between six and one until 1995 when no ‘construction starts’ were recorded. In 1996, work began on building two plants in China and one in Japan.


E a s t A s i a : A s o m e w h a t d i f f e r e n t p i c t u r e

East and South East Asia offered a contrast to Western Europe and

North America. At the end of 1985, 33 nuclear power plants with a total capacity of 23 665 MW(e) were in operation in Japan. Ten years later, the figures had risen to 51 plants totalling 39 893 MW(e) in operation and a further three under construction. During these ten years, 1985–1995, opposition to nuclear power did increase in Japan and it was becoming difficult to persuade local authorities to approve new sites for nuclear plants, but the majority of the members of the Diet and the central Government remained firmly and sometimes outspokenly in favour of more nuclear power, partly because they saw no alternative except growing dependence on imported oil.

Japan also still seemed firmly committed to building a large reprocessing plant and a large fast breeder reactor. In December 1995, the leak of two to three tonnes of sodium at the Monju 280 MW(e) fast breeder reactor (which has put the reactor out of operation since that date) and a number of other incidents, in which the authorities deliberately suppressed or distorted information, has cast a pallor over the further spread of nuclear energy, and, in particular, over the prospects for the reprocessing/fast breeder reactor fuel cycle in Japan.


Some of these incidents resulted in the exposure of workers to low doses of radiation, but no resulting health effects have been reported.

In 1997, it was still too early to assess the long term effects of these events on

Japanese nuclear policies, but there is little doubt that at least for the present they have come under a cloud.

The growth of nuclear power was even more striking in the Republic of Korea than in Japan, from three power reactors with a total capacity of


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 6

2720 MW(e) in operation at the end of 1985 to 11 with a total capacity of

9120 MW(e) in operation at the end of 1995 and a further five under construction. In 1994, China brought its first three nuclear power plants into commercial operation and it was planning several more, Indonesia was planning to build as many as eight nuclear power plants and Thailand and Viet

Nam were showing interest in nuclear power.

Except for OSART

79 missions to Japan in 1988 and 1995 (and, of course, the extensive application of safeguards), the IAEA’s involvement in the

Japanese nuclear power programme was minimal. However, from 1985 to

1995 the IAEA organized numerous training courses, seminars and workshops in China, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea and Thailand, advised

Indonesia on the planning of its nuclear programme and sent several safety and siting missions to the countries in the region.


F u s i o n

Nuclear fusion is the energy source of the sun and all other stars. The scientific and technological challenge of nuclear fusion research is to create controlled miniature suns on earth (in other words, fusion power plants) to produce heat and electricity. To achieve a fusion reaction it is necessary to confine a high density plasma consisting of the nuclei of two isotopes of hydrogen (deuterium (D)) and (tritium (T)) at a temperature comparable to that of the interior of the sun and other stars, and the confinement must eventually be continuous in order to sustain the reaction. The plasma is held in place — and away from the walls of the reactor — by extremely powerful magnetic fields, hence the term ‘magnetic confinement.’


Deuterium is relatively easily extracted from sea water, and tritium can be bred from lithium, which is so abundant in the earth’s crust that fusion can be regarded as an inexhaustible source of energy.


The primary fuels and the end product of fusion (the inert gas helium) are neither toxic nor radioactive, nor do they contribute to the greenhouse effect. Criticality accidents are impossible. However, deuterium–tritium fusion reactors contain some radioactive substances in the form of tritium, or radioactive materials produced by the irradiation of parts of the reactor structure.

Fusion research was declassified at the 1958 United Nations Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy (see Chapter 5) and this opened the way to the regular exchange of information amongst fusion researchers.





October 1960, the IAEA published the first issue of the quarterly journal

Nuclear Fusion

84 and in January 1978, the journal became a monthly publication.


The first international conference on ‘Plasma Physics and Controlled

Nuclear Fusion Research’ was convened by the IAEA at Salzburg in

September 1961,

86 the second at Culham (in the United Kingdom) in

September 1965, the third at Novosibirsk in 1968 and the fourth in Madison,

Wisconsin, in 1971. The fifth conference was held in Tokyo in 1974 and from that time on conferences were held at two-yearly intervals.


The 16th conference, in which some 600 researchers took part, was held in Montreal in

October 1996 and the next is scheduled for 1998 in Yokohama.

In the late 1960s, interest grew in magnetic confinement, especially in the configuration known as the ‘tokamak’ (from its acronym in Russian) and many tokamak machines were built. The results of the research carried out using these machines were both complementary and directly comparable, and led to formal agreements for international co-operation.

In 1970, the IAEA created an advisory body, the International Fusion

Research Council (IFRC), which has since met annually, and in 1978 launched a series of workshops to assess the design of a large, ‘next generation’ tokamak, the INTOR (International Tokamak Reactor).


The workshop then began assessing the data needed for a tokamak fusion reactor and in 1981 developed a conceptual design of an INTOR. The design was updated in 1983 and 1985.


The last projects of the workshop, from 1985 to 1987, included a definition of the database for fusion, a study on possible innovations for a tokamak reactor and a comparison of various national concepts for a next generation tokamak.


On the basis of discussions at the summit between Presidents Reagan and Gorbachev in November 1985, it was recommended that international cooperation in fusion research be expanded.


In April 1988, this political mark of encouragement helped to lead to the initiative of the four leaders in fusion

(the European Union — which was still known as the European Community at that time — Japan, the USSR and the USA) to launch the ITER (International

Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) project, in other words to draw up the conceptual design of a thermonuclear reactor, the natural successor of the

INTOR concept.


The aim of ITER is to confirm the scientific feasibility and address the technical feasibility of fusion as a potentially safe and environmentally acceptable and practically inexhaustible source of energy. ITER was to be carried out as a collaboration of the four fusion leaders (the European

Community included in its contribution Switzerland and Canada) under the auspices of the IAEA. The ITER conceptual design was successfully completed


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 6 in December 1990,

93 and in July 1992 the ITER parties proceeded to the engineering design of the projected reactor, again under the auspices of the IAEA.

This phase is expected to last for six years.

Other confinement systems that show potential advantages over the tokamak are being investigated, thus ensuring sufficient breadth to the international effort to develop the full potential of fusion. Besides supporting this effort by publishing the Nuclear Fusion journal and sponsoring biennial fusion energy conferences, the IAEA has convened many specialist meetings, organized Co-ordinated Research Programmes, and assisted the work on fusion in developing countries.


It is obvious that scientists and engineers will still have to surmount major technical hurdles before being able to demonstrate that a controlled nuclear fusion reactor is technically feasible, and that the commercial use of that technology lies in an even farther future, namely around the middle of the 21st century.


Up to now there is no formal commitment by the parties of the ITER project to build the machine and there is some doubt about the continuation of adequate financial support. Nonetheless, if the technical and economic barriers can be overcome, fusion technology holds out the prospect of generating electricity with a much smaller emission of radiation to the environment than the small quantity released by existing fission power plants during normal operation, on the basis of a virtually unlimited supply of feedstock — namely water.

I n f o r m a t i o n o n n u c l e a r p o w e r

Since it began work in 1958, the IAEA has published data on civilian nuclear reactors in Member States. The publications started with a ten volume Directory of Nuclear Reactors, the first of which was published in 1959 and the last in 1976. In 1971, the IAEA also began to issue an annual report on operating experience with nuclear reactors. In 1980, the earlier data were computerized and the IAEA launched the ‘Power Reactor Information System’

(PRIS), which has provided design and general information on all civilian power reactors in operation, under construction or shut down, throughout the world, as well as power reactor operating experience and historic data on shutdown reactors. Since 1980, PRIS has been updated several times and it has become the world’s most authoritative databank on nuclear power reactors.



Since 1981, the PRIS database has been used to compile the IAEA’s annual publication Nuclear Power Reactors in the World, frequently referred to in this book. In 1989, PRIS was made available on-line to Member States and in 1995 it was also made available through the Internet. By 1997, 76 users in 33 Member States had on-line access to PRIS. Since 1991, the IAEA has also offered PRIS data on diskette in a form that standard personal computers can use — the ‘MicroPRIS’. By 1997, it was being used by more than 200 organizations in more than 50 Member States and 9 international organizations.

Beginning in 1992, the IAEA also created a database containing country profiles of the economic, energy and electricity characteristics and of the industrial structure and organizational framework for nuclear power in various Member States; so far 30 of the 32 States having or building nuclear power plants have contributed information for these profiles.

H e l p i n g M e m b e r S t a t e s t o p l a n t h e i r e n e r g y s y s t e m s

Since the early 1970s, the IAEA has devised ways of helping Member

States to use computer technology in planning their energy and electricity systems. The computer tools that the IAEA has devised take account of all potential sources of energy and give due consideration to the possible role of nuclear power.

As concern about the environment became a major factor, the IAEA, in co-operation with eight other international organizations, developed a methodology, software and databases to enable Member States to make comparative assessments of various means of generating electricity and to draw up their plans for the generation of electricity in a manner consistent with the objectives of ‘sustainable development’. These assessments were designed to take account of all relevant factors (technical, economic, environmental and human health) of the various steps in the energy chain of each option for generating electricity — for instance from mining or other forms of resource extraction to the disposal of waste and the decommissioning of the plant. The computer tools that the IAEA developed with the help of some Member States, in particular the USA, are the following.


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 6

The Tennessee Valley Authority and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the USA developed the ‘Wien Automatic System Planning’ (WASP) package in 1972 to enable the IAEA to assess the economic competitiveness and the potential role of nuclear power in electricity supply systems. In 1972–1973, the IAEA used WASP to carry out a market survey of the prospects for nuclear power in developing countries and used it subsequently for planning studies of electricity systems in individual countries. In the light of the experience gained, the IAEA produced improved versions of the program in 1979,

1994 and 1996, and it has become one of the most widely used tools in the planning of the growing electricity systems of many Member States.

The IAEA developed the ‘Model for Analysis of Energy Demand’ (MAED) package in 1981 to help determine the demand for energy and electricity in various countries, and thus provide better forecasts to be used in WASP studies.

Both MAED and WASP have been used to carry out many projects under the

IAEA’s technical co-operation programme.

Argonne National Laboratory developed the ‘Energy and Power

Evaluation Program’ (ENPEP) package in 1985 and transferred it to the IAEA for use by Member States in energy, electricity and nuclear power planning studies. ENPEP is a set of personal computer based tools and includes personal computer versions of WASP and MAED as well as seven other systems. It has been used in several studies as a comprehensive framework for analysis and decision making, taking into account energy, economic and environmental factors.

The ‘VALORAGUA’ model was developed for planning Portugal’s power generating system. In 1992, the IAEA and Electricidade de Portugal developed a personal computer version of VALORAGUA. This model enables WASP studies to take full account of the contribution of hydro generated electricity and the combined application of VALORAGUA and

WASP enables the energy planner to determine the optimal expansion of electricity supply systems using both thermal (conventional and nuclear) power and hydro power.

In 1985, the IAEA developed the ‘BIDEVAL’ computer program to help

Member States evaluate bids for nuclear power plants. The IAEA has organized regional and national training courses to train experts from developing countries in the use of this tool.

‘DECADES’ is short for an interagency program of ‘Databases and

Methodologies for Comparative Assessment of Different Energy Sources for

Electricity Generation’. This is a tool introduced in 1993 and used to evaluate


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A the trade-offs between technological, economic and environmental aspects of various systems for generating electric power. It consists of databases and analytical software. The two types of databases are:

— A ‘Reference Technology Database’ covering about 300 typical facilities associated with the full energy chains of electricity generating plants using fossil fuels, nuclear power and renewable energy; and

— A country specific database covering about 25 countries and including site specific data on more than 2500 facilities that form the full energy chains of different electricity generating plants.

The analytical software used by DECADES provides access to information in the technology databases and permits the analysis and comparison of costs and environmental impacts of power plants and their full energy chains as well as entire energy systems.

S t a n d i n g i n t e r n a t i o n a l w o r k i n g g r o u p s

Almost since it began work the IAEA has made use of standing international (expert) working groups (IWGs). In recent years they have played an increasingly important role, especially in efforts to improve the safety and reliability and reduce the costs of nuclear power. The working groups typically consist of about 25 leading nuclear specialists from those Member States that have a direct interest in the subject with which the IWG deals. The IWGs meet at intervals of one to two years to review the present status of their subjects by exchanging information and by studying reports on the progress made in national programmes. They discuss the operating experience that has been gained with the facilities or equipment concerned with their technology (for example, instrumentation and control, or design and development of advanced reactors), identify promising areas for international co-operation and advise the IAEA on its nuclear power and related programmes.

As a rule, the IWG is the sole worldwide forum for discussing and disseminating specialized information on national programmes dealing with a particular type of reactor or a particular technology related to nuclear reactors (for instance, the impact of age on reactors of various types and on their components). The main tangible products of the working groups are the


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 6 publications resulting from their Co-ordinated Research Programmes, their technical meetings and other publications such as status reports on various national programmes for the development of reactors.

All IWGs devote attention both to the performance of existing power reactors and to improvements in nuclear reactor technology, but four are concerned with questions relating to all or most types of power reactors and four are specifically concerned with particular types of reactors.

I W G s d e a l i n g w i t h g e n e r a l i s s u e s

The names of the working groups identify the topics with which they deal. The IWG on ‘Life Management of Nuclear Power Plants’ is a successor to an IWG on the ‘Reliability of Reactor Pressure Vessel Components’ set up in 1975, which in turn had its origins in an IWG on ‘Engineering Aspects of

Irradiation Embrittlement of Reactor Pressure Vessel Steels’ established in

1969. It is particularly concerned with the impact of ageing on nuclear power plants and their components and on those factors that limit the lifetime of plants, and with technical means of extending plant lifetime. One of the most useful products of this IWG and its predecessors has been a 25 year long study dealing with the behaviour of reactor materials under neutron irradiation. This has provided much better understanding of and comprehensive information about the radiation induced changes that take place in such materials during reactor operation.

The IWG dealing with power plant instrumentation and control was established in 1970. The group focuses on the use of computers and other information technologies, the engineering aspects of the interface between operators and machines (the ‘human–machine interface’) and on simulators for training purposes as well as on the development of instruments and controls.

The IWG dealing with the training and qualification of nuclear power plant personnel was established recently (1994) in recognition of the fact that the safety and reliability of nuclear power plants depend as much (if not more) on the competence of plant personnel as on the quality of equipment and instruments. Besides advising the IAEA on its own programmes, the

IWG aims to identify areas where the IAEA can help Member States to increase their ability to train personnel for the safe, reliable and economic operation of nuclear power plants. The IWG also helps to ensure that IAEA standards are implemented and serves as a source of advice for the IAEA’s technical co-operation programmes.



The IWG on ‘Water Reactor Fuel Performance and Technology’ was set up in 1976 and focuses on the design and performance of nuclear fuel, fuel assemblies and components such as control rods and on the processes and phenomena that occur in water reactors.

A d v a n c e d r e a c t o r s

Nuclear power was first developed chiefly by national nuclear energy establishments working more or less independently of each other. An early exception was the high temperature gas cooled reactor (HTGCR). In the

1950s, certain member countries of the OECD’s ENEA pooled their resources in the 20 MW(th) Dragon project in the United Kingdom, which went critical in 1964.


However, for the development of fast breeder reactors the nations concerned initially chose the national path. In the 1950s and 1960s, France, the

Federal Republic of Germany, Japan, the USSR, the United Kingdom and the

USA each began to build prototype fast breeder reactors of roughly similar size and having many features in common. Subsequently, as national financing of advanced reactor programmes began to shrink, international co-operation through the IAEA and other organizations became increasingly important, providing a forum in which nuclear establishments could exchange information and seek means of co-ordinating their work to help meet the high costs of development, and to focus on key issues that hindered such development.

Over time the IAEA has established four IWGs to co-ordinate its activities relating to advanced reactor technologies, namely those on light water cooled, gas cooled, heavy water cooled and liquid metal cooled (i.e. fast breeder) reactors. Smaller specialist meetings were convened in selected areas of technology as well as larger, more broadly based technical committees, workshops and symposia. Advanced reactor designs include, as a rule, concepts that will enhance their safety such as features that give operators longer grace periods (for instance, more time to respond to a signal), and that protect more effectively against the release of radioactivity to the environment. Advanced designs may incorporate built-in ‘passive’ safety features that depend on natural forces such as gravity and convection to ensure the flow of coolant in an emergency and make safety functions less dependent on pumps and other active systems and components that would have to be started up at short notice.

From 1987 until 1996, the IAEA’s work on both light and heavy water reactors was carried out chiefly by an IWG on ‘Advanced Technologies for


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 6

Water Cooled Reactors’. In 1997, the operation was, in effect, divided between two IWGs, dealing respectively with light and heavy water reactors.

Water cooled reactors have long since become the world’s predominant nuclear power reactor: 396 of the 437 power reactors in operation at the beginning of 1996 were water cooled and their leading place in installed nuclear capacity was even more obvious; it was rated at 330 100 MW(e) out of a world total of 344 400 MW(e), representing about 96% of the world’s total. Amongst them, the light water cooled reactors generated 297 100 MW(e), or 78% of the total amount of electricity produced by nuclear power.

By the mid-1990s, very large water cooled reactors of advanced design with outputs well above 1000 MW(e) were coming into operation in the Far

East, Europe and North America. In 1996, for instance, a 1130 MW(e) pressurized water power reactor and two 1315 MW(e) advanced boiling water reactors were started up in Japan, the first 1445 MW(e) pressurized water reactor in France and a 1165 MW(e) pressurized water reactor in the USA. A large

650 MW(e) heavy water reactor came into operation in Romania. While changes to a proven design are kept as small as possible, there is nonetheless a wide range of design improvements to increase reliability, make designs more user friendly, improve economics and enhance safety.

The IAEA’s IWG on ‘Gas Cooled Reactors’ was established in 1978 and currently includes 12 Member States, the European Union and the



T h e f a s t b r e e d e r r e a c t o r

The fast breeder reactor represents an advanced technology that merits special attention not only because it offers a potentially almost unlimited source of electric power and heat, but also because of all advanced nuclear reactor types (except those that are essentially improvements in the design of the existing generation of light water reactors) it has so far received the most technical support and attention.

As the prospects for nuclear power improved in the 1970s there was mounting concern whether known uranium reserves would be able to meet the growing demand for nuclear fuel. As noted at the beginning of this chapter, the first electricity generated by nuclear energy had its origin in an experimental breeder reactor. This, in the long run, spurred interest in the development of commercial breeder reactors. In principle, use of the breeder


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A would make it possible to extract sixty times more energy from a given amount of uranium than could the current generation of reactors. This would thus make it economic to exploit lower grades of uranium ore, perhaps even the very small concentration of uranium in sea water. Accordingly, the breeder would, it was argued, present humanity with an almost inexhaustible source of electric and thermal energy. In the early days of the IAEA there seemed to be a race between the proponents of breeder reactors and the fusion enthusiasts; who would be the first to achieve a commercially viable machine?

At the third Geneva Conference it was predicted that “full-sized fast breeder power stations will probably be commissioned in the early 1970s.”


The Conference also noted that “virtually all countries with major nuclear power programmes now devote considerable efforts to developing fast reactor systems, the economic breeder reactor being the ultimate goal.”

The IAEA soon began to take an active interest in the development of breeder reactor technology. A meeting of experts in December 1964 helped it to prepare a programme for monitoring progress in the development of the technology


; in 1967 the Agency established an IWG on fast reactors and in

1970 an IAEA symposium in Monaco reviewed the evolution of fast breeder systems.


As far back as 1963 the USA had completed the Fermi fast breeder reactor, producing 61 MW(e) of electricity.


Ten years later, in 1973, the USSR brought into operation the first medium sized prototype fast breeder reactor, the BN-350, at Shevchenko (now Aktau in Kazakstan). This reactor, with an equivalent capacity of 350 MW(e), is still producing both electricity and desalted water for Aktau city and neighbouring industries. In the 1980s, two more fast breeder reactors were commissioned, a prototype medium sized reactor, the Phénix (250 MW(e)), in France and the commercial sized BN-600

(600 MW(e)) in the USSR. In 1994, Japan commissioned the 280 MW(e) Monju fast breeder reactor (which, as noted, following a sodium leak, has been out of action since December 1995), and Russia plans to resume building two

800 MW(e) fast breeder reactors in the South Urals.


In 1986, the first fast breeder reactor of a fully commercial size, the Superphénix at Creys-Malville, rated at 1242 MW(e), was connected to the French grid.


The USA has long since brought its fast breeder reactor programme to a halt and, despite the initiatives taken in the 1980s, Western Europe appears to be following suit. In 1991, Germany stopped construction of a 327 MW(e) prototype fast breeder reactor at Kalkar

104 and in 1994 the United Kingdom closed down its 250 MW(e) prototype fast breeder reactor at Dounreay.



P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 6

Superphénix itself has had several operating problems and was shut down for some two years in the early 1990s.


Chiefly because of the large capital cost incurred in building Superphénix,


Electricité de France appears to have abandoned plans to build a series of fast breeder reactors. Superphénix is being converted into a plutonium burner and will be used for research instead of breeding plutonium. The expectations that lasted until the early

1980s (and in some quarters the fears) of a worldwide boom in breeder reactors have faded, at least for the next decade or two.


It should be stressed that though the fast breeder reactor is still far from being economically competitive, its technology is proven. Twenty fast breeder reactors have been built and operated, five of which were prototypes or of commercial size. Fast breeder reactors have accumulated 280 reactor-years of experience, more than 85 of which resulted from the operation of the five larger reactors mentioned earlier. Fast breeder reactors continue to offer an indefinitely sustainable source of energy as well as the technical means of reducing the space and storage time needed for high level waste (the fast breeder reactor can be used to transmute long lived actinides


). They also offer the means of reducing the stocks of plutonium resulting from the dismantling of nuclear weapons and recovered from the spent fuel of present thermal reactors — in other words, the plutonium separated in civilian reprocessing plants like La Hague in France and Sellafield in the United Kingdom.

If other sources of energy become scarce and expensive, the fast breeder reactor, despite recent setbacks, offers a technically tested alternative. In the meantime, it seems sound policy to maintain and improve fast breeder reactor technology, enhance its safety and reduce its costs — objectives to which the IAEA has been seeking to contribute.

T h e p r o s p e c t s f o r n u c l e a r p o w e r i n t h e e a r l y 1 9 9 0 s

In 1988, the world’s installed nuclear power capacity passed 300 000 MW(e).

As noted, at the end of 1996 it stood at 350 964 MW(e) (in 442 plants), and

35 plants totalling a further 26 728 MW(e) were under construction.

In September 1994, the IAEA held an international conference entitled

‘The Nuclear Power Option’. The consensus of the conference was that nuclear power will continue to provide about the same proportion of world electricity as it does at present (about 17%) and that a mix of energy sources


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A helps to assure a stable supply and price.


But it is clear that the future of nuclear power and of the IAEA’s programmes dealing with it will depend largely on five factors:

— The future demand for electricity (especially in Asia, where growth in demand seems likely to be strongest, and where the prospects for nuclear power are better than in other regions).

— The relative cost of generating electricity by burning fossil and nuclear fuels. (Recent trends in most countries of North America and Western

Europe have not been favourable to nuclear energy, coal or oil. In most of these countries the only rapidly expanding source of energy for electricity generation is natural gas.)


— Maintaining a superior safety record for nuclear energy to offset the lingering memories of Chernobyl. (As Director General Blix put it in 1991:

“The future of nuclear power depends essentially on two factors: how well and how safely it actually performs and how well and how safely it is perceived to perform.” Blix included under ‘safety’ the safe disposal of nuclear waste.)

— Persuading the public that nuclear waste can be disposed of without endangering the health of future generations (the technology is available, public confidence is lacking).

— In the longer run, how seriously the world takes the threat of global warming, which stems largely from the ‘greenhouse gases’ emitted by fossil fuels. (This applies particularly to North America and Western

Europe where, except in France, nuclear energy programmes do not seem likely to flourish unless drastic steps are taken to curb the use of fossil fuel for electricity generation. It also applies to the two countries in Asia where energy consumption and the burning of coal seem bound to grow massively in the next century, namely China and India.)


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the main international body assessing the impact of greenhouse gases on the world’s climate. The IAEA provided a considerable amount of material to the Panel, but in 1994 the IAEA went on record as stating that the draft assessments the Panel made in that year did not “adequately reflect the potential contribution that nuclear energy could make to meeting energy demands while reducing carbon dioxide emissions.”


Subsequently, the head of the OECD’s International

Energy Agency noted in a statement to a UN meeting that “nuclear energy


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 6 accounted for the greater part of the lowering of carbon density of the energy economies of the OECD countries over the last 25 years.”


Nonetheless, the past years have shown how difficult a task it will be to persuade energy authorities and governments, in the countries concerned and particularly in developing countries like India and China, to pay the cost of reducing carbon dioxide emissions and to persuade the public that nuclear energy is one of the viable solutions to the problem of global warming. The reluctance of the IPCC to recognize the potentially benign role of nuclear energy was another pointer in this direction.

This chapter has charted the varying prospects for nuclear power from the euphoria of 1955 to the mild disappointments of the late 1950s and early

1960s to the boom of the 1970s and to the slump in much of the West and in several developing countries in the 1980s and early 1990s. It is difficult for later generations to capture the sense of achievement that marked the operation of the first reactors and the construction and startup of the first nuclear power plants. Here, at last, the ingenuity of mankind — in the work of brilliant scientists — had unlocked a potentially inexhaustible source of energy that did not depend on the muscles of tamed animals or the vagaries of wind and weather or the burning of coal or oil that had been laid down 60 million years ago, but which, instead, released the binding energy of the atom itself. In the

1980s and early 1990s, many of a younger generation seemed, rather, to triumph when a nuclear power plant was shut down or a windmill was put up or a gas burning power plant was opened. We cannot know what the future holds, but it is certain that we have not seen the end of the story.

Perhaps another generation will see in nuclear power not only a source of abundant energy but also the main hope for avoiding the problems that will follow if the temperature of our atmosphere is allowed to go on rising.





Report of the Preparatory Commission of the International Atomic Energy Agency, document GC.1/1, GOV/1, pp. 13–14, paras 48–51.

See, for instance, the Annual Report for 1995, GC(40)/8, IAEA, Vienna (1996) 10.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference Covering the Period

from 1 July 1958 to 30 June 1959, GC(III)/73, IAEA, Vienna (1959), p. 4, para. 10; and

IAEA General Conference Resolution GC(II)/RES/27.















Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference Covering the Period from

1 July 1958 to 30 June 1959, pp. 45–46. paras 215–216. In his essay in Personal Reflections,

Ambassador Bill Barton writes that Canada offered to sell the fuel for $1.00!

SZASZ, P.C., The Law and Practices of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Legal

Series No. 7, IAEA, Vienna (1970) 420–421. The Board subsequently cancelled the application of safeguards and safety measures that had been applied under this project since the quantity of uranium was below the exemption limit established by the first safeguards system and did not represent substantial assistance to the operation of the JRR-3 reactor.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1959–30 June

1960, GC(IV)/114, IAEA, Vienna (1960), p. 37, paras 224–226.

The United Nations ‘Special Fund’ and its ‘Expanded Programme for Technical

Assistance’ were the precursors of the present United Nations Development


Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1961–30 June

1962, GC(VI)/195, IAEA, Vienna (1962), p. 7, para. 45; Annual Report of the Board of

Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1962–30 June 1963, GC(VII)/228, IAEA,

Vienna (1963), p. 7, paras 41 and 43; Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the

General Conference 1 July 1963–30 June 1964, GC(VIII)/270, IAEA, Vienna (1964), p. 20, para. 77. The plant that Yugoslavia eventually built at Krško, now in Slovenia, is not the demonstration reactor studied in the early 1960s. The Philippines completed the construction of a nuclear power plant, but when Corazon Aquino succeeded President Marcos it was decided not to start up the reactor, chiefly because the plant was believed to be in an earthquake zone.

Document GOV/OR.98.

SZASZ, P.C., The Law and Practices of the International Atomic Energy Agency, pp. 281–282.

Indeed, as noted in Chapter 5, the IAEA’s contribution was very modest: two technical papers and a few members of the Conference’s scientific staff.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1964–30 June

1965, GC(IX)/299, IAEA, Vienna (1965), p. 4, paras 10–17. The Conference took place from 31 August to 9 September 1964.

Annual Report 1 July 1971–30 June 1972, GC(XVI)/480, IAEA, Vienna (1972), p. 37, para. 114.

Ibid., p. 37, para 116.

In Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the USSR, Sweden, the United

Kingdom and the USA. All, with the exception of the Obninsk reactor in Russia, have since been closed down.


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 6





Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1963–30 June

1964, p. 19, para. 74.

This has proved to be correct of only one large industrial country, France, and of

Sweden, Belgium and Lithuania, and almost true of Bulgaria. In Belgium and

Sweden, more than half the electricity produced is now generated by nuclear power, but in Belgium there is now a de facto moratorium on new orders for nuclear power plants and Sweden still remains committed, at least on paper, to phase out nuclear power by the year 2010.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1964–30 June

1965, p. 5, para. 20; and Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General

Conference 1 July 1965–30 June 1966, GC(X)/330, IAEA, Vienna (1966), p. 15.

The following orders were placed worldwide for new power reactors:

Year Total capacity (MW(e))






23 000

30 000

34 000

19 000

25 000


It rose in 1968 to 300 000 MW(e), in 1969 to 300 000–350 000 MW(e) and in 1971 to

340 000 MW(e).








In the same year (1971), the estimate for 1985 was 710 000 MW(e) with a 30% margin of error (Annual Report 1 July 1970–30 June 1971, GC(XV)/455, IAEA, Vienna

(1971), p. 30, para. 73). In 1995, the global installed nuclear capacity amounted to

344 422 MW(e). (Nuclear Power Reactors in the World, April 1966 Edition, Reference

Data Series No. 2, IAEA, Vienna (1996) 11.)

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1968–30 June

1969, GC(XIII)/404, IAEA, Vienna (1969), p. 20, para. 64.

Since the mid-1970s, the real price of oil has fallen steeply and today it is no higher in real terms than it was before the 1973 Arab–Israeli war.

Annual Report for 1975, GC(XX)/565, IAEA, Vienna (1976), p. 30, para. 89.

Ibid., p. 30, paras 89–90.

Annual Report 1 July 1974–30 June 1975, GC(XIX)/544, IAEA, Vienna (1975), p. 32, para. 100.

Nuclear Power Reactors in the World, April 1996 Edition, p. 11.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1967–30 June

1968, GC(XII)/380, IAEA, Vienna (19), p. 11, para 34.

















Thorium cannot be directly used as a source of heat to produce steam for a turbogenerator. However, when bombarded with neutrons, thorium is transmuted into uranium-233, a fissile isotope of uranium.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1964–30 June

1965, p. 11, para. 31.

Annual Report for 1980, GC(XXV)/642, IAEA, Vienna (1981), p. 23, para 73; and

Annual Report for 1981, GC(XXVI)/664, IAEA, Vienna (1982), p. 36, para. 101.

CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES, Background Material for the Review of the

International Atomic Policies and Programs of the United States, Report to the Joint

Committee on Atomic Energy, Vol. 3, US Govt Printing Office, Washington, DC

(1960) 507.

Ibid., p. 502.

The term PNE is a misnomer, since there is no such thing as an intrinsically

‘peaceful’ nuclear explosive or explosion. The NPT itself is careful to refer to the

“potential benefits of any peaceful applications of nuclear explosions.”

See DOKOS, T.P., Negotiations for a CTBT 1958–1994, University Press of America,

Lanham, MD (1995) 20.

In 1979–1980, Argentina discussed with the IAEA Secretariat the contents of an agreement that would place all nuclear material in that country under safeguards and thereby enable Argentina to comply with the Tlatelolco Treaty which, according to Admiral Costa Madera, the Argentine Governor, his

Government planned to ratify. The author, who led the IAEA team, explained that the IAEA Board would not approve a safeguards agreement under which nuclear material could be withdrawn from safeguards to be used in a PNE. The

Admiral insisted that this was Argentina’s right under the Tlatelolco Treaty.

Despite strenuous efforts to find a compromise, no agreement could be reached and the discussions petered out.

See Resolution GC(XII)/RES/245, Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the

General Conference 1 July 1968–30 June 1969, p. 24, para. 81. The report on PNEs was issued as document GC(XII)/410. See also Annual Report of the Board of Governors to

the General Conference 1 July 1969–30 June 1970, GC(XIV)/430, IAEA, Vienna (1970), pp. 27–28, para. 69.

Annual Report 1 July 1971–30 June 1972, p. 30., para. 89.

Document INFCIRC/169.

The Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Committee which drafted the NPT. In practice, only 17 nations took part in the ENDC’s work; the French chair remained empty.

United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2829 (XXVI).

Annual Report 1 July 1974–30 June 1975, p. 9, paras 24–25.


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 6















For instance, to excavate a harbour in Western Australia, to build a canal through the Krai Peninsula in Thailand, to remove a sand bank blocking a harbour in

Madagascar, to link the Qattara Depression in Egypt with the Mediterranean, and to build a sea level canal across the Isthmus of Panama. The Malagasy enquiry was formal but, after a change of government, it was not pressed.

As noted, India maintained that the test it carried out at Pokharan in 1974 was a peaceful nuclear explosion.

Professor Nye was then Deputy Undersecretary of State for Security Assistance in the Carter Administration.

In principle, the closed fuel cycle involving the reprocessing of spent fuel and the use of the recovered plutonium in a breeder reactor can produce 60 times more energy from a given amount of uranium than the once-through cycle.

The engineer’s rule of thumb is that no single plant should produce more than about one fifth of the total output of the grid or network; otherwise there is a danger of a system blackout if the oversized plant falls out. Hence the smaller the network, the smaller should be the largest plant in that network. As networks grow it becomes possible to accommodate larger plants.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1968–30 June

1969, p. 23, para. 76.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1969–30 June

1970, p. 27, para. 66.

Ten years later, in 1995, the total installed nuclear capacity of the developing countries (including China and South Africa, but excluding Taiwan and the

Republic of Korea) amounted to only about 8500 MW(e). The figures given in this section are based on Nuclear Power Reactors in the World, April 1986 and April 1996


Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1969–30 June

1970, p. 27, para. 64.

Annual Report 1 July 1971– 30 June 1972, p. 27, para. 78.

In fact, only 4 of the 14 countries covered by the survey have built nuclear power plants — Argentina, the Republic of Korea, Mexico and Pakistan.

LANE, J., “The impact of oil price increases on the market for nuclear power in developing countries”, IAEA Bulletin No. 1/2 (1974) 66. Of the 44 countries listed in the article, three have built or are building nuclear power plants — Pakistan,

Iran and Cuba.

Unlike those two plants the new reactors were not placed under IAEA safeguards, but India was not under any legal obligation to do so.

Annual Report for 1984, GC(XXIX)/748, IAEA, Vienna (1985), p. 29, para. 91.













They included four power reactors of 12.5 MW(e) in Bilibino producing both electricity and district heat, a number of reactors in nuclear icebreakers, and district heating reactors of 500 MW(th) under construction in Gorki and

Novovoronezh (construction of which has, however, been stopped or suspended).

A fast breeder reactor at Shevchenko (now Aktau in Kazakstan) was producing electricity and desalted water for an isolated industrial region. In fact, more that a dozen of the now ‘famous’ WWER-440 reactors were built in the USSR and a number of former Socialist countries and are still in commercial operation.

Document GOV/OR.635, para. 11.

Annual Report for 1987, GC(XXXII)/835, IAEA, Vienna (1988), p. 26, para. 72.

Annual Report for 1995, p. 10. There is also some interest in Japan in using reactors of advanced design — high temperature reactors — as a source of industrial heat for gasifying coal, producing methanol and for the more effective recovery of oil.

Apart from the Indian heavy water reactors, the smallest nuclear power plants that are now under construction are Chinese 325 MW(e) plants (in China and Pakistan and, possibly, in Iran) and some older 430 MW(e) Soviet WWER plants in Slovakia.

It is reported that the next Chinese built plants will be of the order of 600 MW(e), the few plants in prospect in the former Soviet Union in the WWER series will be of the order of 1000 MW(e).

Of the 37 nuclear power reactors listed in Nuclear Power Reactors in the World, April

1996 Edition, as under construction at the end of 1995, more than a third (13) were under 700 MW(e), including plants in Argentina, India, the Republic of Korea,

Pakistan, Romania and Slovakia.

However, the concept is still alive. Some very large reactors — with a capacity of some 1500 MW(e) — are now being commissioned. Each represents a very large capital investment and if for any reason the plant has to be taken out of operation the consequence is a major loss of electric power. A utility has more flexibility of operation if it has a park of smaller plants. Studies are being made of the possibility of upgrading submarine reactors to approximately 300 MW(e), while manufacturers in the USA and Canada are looking at plants of 600 MW(e). In the USA, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has cleared the design of compact Westinghouse plants of 300 and 600 MW(e). (Information provided by Dr. Munir Khan.)

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1963–30 June

1964, p. 22, paras 95–96.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1966–30 June

1967, GC(XI)/355, IAEA, Vienna (1967), p. 15, para. 36.

See the following: Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference

1 July 1964–30 June 1965, p. 13, para. 46, p. 14, para. 49, p. 15, para. 51; 1 July 1965–30


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 6








June 1966, p. 21, para. 69; 1 July 1966–30 June 1967, p. 15, paras 35–37; 1 July 1967–

30 June 1968, pp. 12–13, paras 39–40; 1 July 1968–30 June 1969, pp. 23–24, paras 78–80;

1 July 1969–30 June 1970, p. 27, para. 68; 1 July 1970–30 June 1971, p. 31, paras 80–81.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1965–30 June

1966, p. 23, paras 79 and 80.

Annual Report for 1989, GC(XXXIV)/915, IAEA, Vienna (1990) 7.

Annual Report for 1992, GC(XXXVII)/1060, IAEA, Vienna (1993) 19.

Annual Report for 1993, GC(XXXVIII)/2, IAEA, Vienna (1994) 19; Annual Report for

1994, GC(39)/3, IAEA, Vienna (1995) 30.

Annual Report for 1995, p. 5.

The latest figures (March 1996) give a range of between 375 000 MW(e) and

535 000 MW(e) for the year 2015. The latter is about one tenth of the 1975 upper projection for the year 2000!

The Presidential Commission set up to review the causes and results of the accident concluded that the radiation exposure which it caused would “lead to no additional cancer deaths or, if there were any, they would be so few that they could not be detected” amongst the more than two million people living within a 50 mile radius of the plant. In the same population, about 325 000 cancer deaths must be expected from other causes. (Annual Report for 1980, p. 3, para. 4.) New nuclear power plant orders had begun to decline in the USA some years before the accident, but Three Mile Island was the coup de grâce.









In fact, during 1995 no country anywhere began the construction of a new nuclear power plant (Nuclear Power Reactors in the World, April 1996 Edition, p. 13). No new orders were placed in the USA during 1996 and most observers foresaw an indefinite halt to any new US orders.

Annual Report for 1980, GC(XXV)/642, IAEA, Vienna (1980), p. 22, para. 67.

Annual Report for 1983, GC(XXVIII)/713, IAEA, Vienna (1984), p. 25, para. 70.

Annual Report for 1981, p. 8, para. 10.

Annual Report for 1989, p. 6.

Nuclear Power Reactors in the World, April 1996 Edition, pp. 13 and 50; and IAEA

Press Release, PR/97/6 (24 April 1997).

YOSHIKAWA, M., “Japan: Review shows Japan nuclear agenda on the ropes”,

Reuters News Service, 7 May 1997.

Operational Safety Review Team — see Chapter 7.

For instance, the IAEA held five workshops in Thailand in 1993, chiefly for persons who would be deciding whether or not the country should proceed with a nuclear power programme and to provide for the training of nuclear power plant operators
















(Annual Report for 1993, p. 13). The IAEA held six training courses in Indonesia in

1994 (Annual Report for 1994, p. 18). It helped China to assess the economics of nuclear power in 1993 and 1994 and held an ASSET (Assessment of Safety

Significant Events Team) training seminar in China in 1992, sent an OSART mission to assess the safety of China’s first nuclear power plant at Guangdong and an expert mission on the management of nuclear accidents to China in 1993

(Annual Report for 1993, pp. 125 and 128). OSARTs visited the Republic of Korea in

1986 and 1989 and there was an ASSET mission in 1991.

Fusion is the opposite of the nuclear fission process that takes place in today’s nuclear power plants. In fission, the nuclei of heavy elements, such as uranium, split apart forming lighter elements. In fusion, the nuclei of light elements, such as hydrogen, combine to form heavier elements. In both cases, the reactions release a large quantity of energy.

Status Report on Controlled Thermonuclear Fusion, Executive Summary and General

Overview, International Fusion Research Council, IAEA, Vienna (1990) 3.

Ibid., p. 26.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1960 to 30 June

1961, GC(V)/154, IAEA, Vienna (1961), p. 33, para. 205; Nuclear Fusion 1 1 (1960).

Nuclear Fusion 18 1 (1978).

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1961 to 30 June

1962, p. 8, para. 52.

Subsequent conferences were held in Berchtesgaden, Innsbruck, Brussels,

Baltimore, London, Kyoto, Nice, Washington, Würzburg and Seville. See

“Foreword”, Plasma Physics and Controlled Nuclear Fusion Research (Proc. 6th Int.

Conf. Berchtesgaden, 1976), Vol. 1, IAEA, Vienna (1977).

Status Report on Controlled Thermonuclear Fusion, Executive Summary and General

Overview, p. 27.

STACEY, W.M., “INTOR Workshop: Design, concept, critical issues, innovations, database assessment, summary”, Plasma Physics and Controlled Nuclear Fusion

Research 1988 (Proc. 12th Int. Conf. Nice, 1988), Vol. 3, IAEA, Vienna (1989) 199.

International Tokamak Reactor: Phase Two A, Part III (Report Workshop Vienna,

1985–1987), Vols 1 and 2, IAEA, Vienna (1988).

CLARKE, J.F., in Plasma Physics and Controlled Nuclear Fusion Research 1986 (Proc.

11th Int. Conf. Kyoto, 1986), Vol. 1, IAEA, Vienna (1987) 5.

MAISONNIER, C., in Plasma Physics and Controlled Nuclear Fusion Research 1988

(Proc. 12th Int. Conf. Nice, 1989), Vol. 1, IAEA, Vienna (1989) 3.

Foreword, ITER Interim Design Report Package and Relevant Documents, IAEA,

Vienna (1996).


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 6
















Status Report on Controlled Thermonuclear Fusion, Executive Summary and General

Overview, p. 9.

FLAKUS, F.N., CLEVELAND, C.C., DOLAN, T.J., “Nuclear fusion: Targeting safety and environmental goals”, IAEA Bulletin 4 (1995) 24. The authors suggest that ITER

“could begin significant DT operation (fusion of deuterium and tritium) around

2005–2010...A demonstration fusion power plant could then begin operation about two decades later.”


Vol. 5, IAEA, Vienna (1964) 277–282. The Dragon was fuelled with high (93%) enriched uranium and thorium, graphite moderated and helium cooled.

Three other Member States not members of the IWG take part in the gas cooled reactor programme.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1964–30 June

1965, p. 5, para. 19.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1963–30 June

1964, p. 22, para. 94.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1967–30 June

1968, p. 10, para. 33; and Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General

Conference 1 July 1969–30 June 1970, p. 25, para. 58.

The Fermi was shut down in 1972 (Nuclear Power Reactors in the World, April 1996

Edition, p. 49).

Following an accidental discharge of between 700 and 3000 kg of its sodium coolant, the Monju was taken out of operation for extensive repairs at the beginning of 1996. (“Phoenix in der Asche”, Der Spiegel 6 (1977) 166.)

The data given in this and the next paragraph are chiefly drawn from Nuclear

Power Reactors in the World, April 1996 Edition.

After spending some $6 billion on it according to a German magazine (notably critical of nuclear power). (“Phoenix in der Asche”, Der Spiegel, p. 167.)

Nuclear Power Reactors in the World, April 1996 Edition, p. 48.

Superphénix was restarted in 1996 and was operating at full power towards the end of the year.

Estimated by the same German magazine at $5–6 billion and eventually twice that sum (“Phoenix in der Asche”, Der Spiegel, p. 168).

Most of the technical and economic problems that the fast breeder reactor has run into have derived from the reactor’s use of liquid metal as a coolant. The small size of the fast reactor core results in high specific heat. The coolants used by thermal

(current generation) reactors — namely water or a gas such as carbon dioxide — could not carry away this heat rapidly enough to the fast breeder reactor’s heat








114 exchanger. Moreover, the use of water as a coolant would slow down (moderate) the fast neutrons that are crucial to the functioning of a fast breeder reactor. Hence the use of a liquid metal, usually sodium, for this purpose. Sodium, however, is not only highly corrosive, but also bursts into an intensely hot fire if it comes into contact with air or water. Severe physical damage can thus be caused by a sodium leak, necessitating measures to prevent or protect against such leaks, several of which have occurred in the past. These measures helped to push up the capital cost of the fast breeder reactor. However, while sodium leaks can lead to a fierce fire, they have not resulted in any loss of life or severe injury to plant operators.

Defined as heavy radioactive metallic elements.

Annual Report for 1994, pp. 4–5.

A generating plant using natural gas costs as little as one fifth as a nuclear power plant of the same size, and it can be quickly added to the grid in the form of a relatively small unit. It thus allows a utility to respond flexibly to fluctuations in demand. On the other hand, operating costs per unit of electricity produced in a gas fired power station are higher than in a modern nuclear plant, and natural gas is a wasting asset. (“ current levels of use exploitable oil and gas will run out within fifty years”, BLIX, H., “The global need for nuclear power”, keynote address to the Second Philippine Nuclear Congress, Manila, 10 December 1996.) Burning natural gas also produces greenhouse gases — less carbon dioxide than coal or oil but much more (in the form of leaked methane) than a coal or oil fired plant.

The enthusiasm of the 1970s for unconventional and renewable sources of energy, chiefly wind power and solar energy, has generally given way to a more realistic appreciation of their potential. Their contribution will expand, but except for the use of solar energy as a source of heat for domestic water supply, and wind, solar and geothermal in special situations — e.g. certain windy coasts, remote locations, presence of geothermal sources — their overall impact is likely to remain marginal to total demand. Solar, wind, and biomass now jointly provide 0.1% of the total commercial energy the world uses (see BLIX, H., “The global need for nuclear power”).

Annual Report for 1994, p. 5.

BLIX, H., “The global need for nuclear power”, quoting from a speech given by the

Executive Director of the OECD International Energy Agency (IEA) to the Second

Session of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. (The IEA — not to be confused with the IAEA or the NEA! — was established by the OECD after the oil crisis of 1974 with a view to helping the OECD States deal with any repetition of that crisis.)



C h a p t e r 7




I n a narrow sense nuclear safety means dealing effectively with the risks associated with the nuclear fuel cycle, and radiation safety means dealing with risks arising from the uses of ionizing radiation, including the use of radioisotopes and radiation in medicine, industry and various branches of research. Waste management similarly relates to risks arising from radioactive waste and includes the disposal of such wastes. In this chapter the term

‘nuclear safety’ is used, when convenient, as an umbrella to cover all such activities.

From the start, the IAEA’s work relating to nuclear and radiation safety and the management of nuclear and other radioactive wastes has, in accordance with its Statute, fallen into the following broad categories:

— Supporting research (for instance, on radiation effects and on the behaviour of radionuclides in the environment);

— Promoting the exchange of information, for instance, by scientific meetings, and by specialized publications;

— Establishing a comprehensive range of standards, regulations, codes of practice, guides, etc., dealing with most aspects of the civilian nuclear fuel cycle and with radioactive waste;


— Helping Member States, especially developing countries, to strengthen the national infrastructure for dealing with nuclear safety, radiation safety and radioactive waste management and providing advice on specific questions or problems;


— Promoting binding international conventions on nuclear safety, early notification of a nuclear accident, mutual assistance in case of radiological emergencies, management of radioactive waste, liability in the case of accidents, liability of operation of nuclear ships, and physical protection of nuclear material against criminal acts.


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 7

N u c l e a r s a f e t y

T h e a p p r o a c h

The Statute foresaw that in any project or other arrangement to which the IAEA was requested to apply safeguards it should have the right “to require the observance of any health and safety measures prescribed by the

Agency” and that the IAEA’s inspectors would have the responsibility of determining whether “there is compliance with” those health and safety measures.


The requirement to observe the IAEA’s health and safety standards was to apply, in the first place, to the IAEA’s own operations which, it was assumed, would involve the transport and storage of large amounts of nuclear material. It was also tacitly assumed that the conclusion of Agency project agreements, which would require the project to be subject to safeguards — including those relating to nuclear safety — would lead to the widespread application of mandatory IAEA safety standards.

The Prepcom accordingly foresaw the recruitment of safety inspectors.

The first ‘health and safety measures’, including ‘safety standards’ approved by the Board on 31 March 1960, authorized the Agency to carry out not more than two safety inspections a year of an assisted operation.


In practice, the cases where the IAEA has required a State to apply IAEA safety measures have been limited to ‘Agency projects’ and to technical co-operation projects (even though the latter do not normally provide for the application of safeguards).

As noted in Chapter 8, the Board of Governors in 1959 and 1960 took decisions that ensured that the function of safeguards inspection should henceforth be kept separate from the application of safety measures. No safety inspectors were ever formally appointed. A few safety inspections carried out by the IAEA in the early 1960s were apparently undertaken by ad hoc inspectors from the then existing Division of Health, Safety and Waste Management.


In February 1976, the Board approved a revision of the 1960 The

Agency’s Health and Safety Measures. The revised document replaced the concept of carrying out routine inspections to verify compliance with the

Agency’s health and safety measures by that of advisory safety missions to be carried out with the agreement of the State. In effect, the IAEA “waived its statutory right of carrying out routine verification of Agency assisted operations through health and safety inspections...” and replaced it with a voluntary system.




We shall revert to this matter at the end of this chapter.

In 1958, the IAEA began collecting information about the nuclear safety and waste management practices and regulations of Member States and on the work of other international bodies in these fields. This provided the

Agency with background information it would need to draw up its own international recommendations. The Agency also began work on a manual of safe practices for isotope users.


For most of the early 1960s, the IAEA’s work on nuclear safety, radiation protection and nuclear waste management consisted of drawing up international recommendations, guides and standards. In other words the IAEA was beginning to lay the basis for national regulations and legislation in countries that had not yet introduced their own nuclear safety standards. This work was carried out chiefly at IAEA Headquarters rather than in the field.

In the latter part of the decade the emphasis was increasingly placed on helping developing countries to apply its recommendations.

In 1960, the Board approved The Agency’s Health and Safety Measures referred to above, to be applied when the Agency carried out projects in its

Member States.


By the end of 1961, the IAEA had issued eight sets of recommendations on nuclear safety covering a wide range of topics, including safe operation of research reactors, safe use of radioisotopes and radioactive waste disposal in the sea. Another important early safety standard dealt with the safe transport of nuclear materials. The Board approved these transport regulations in

September 1960 (they were published in 1961) and recommended them to

Member States and other international bodies concerned with various modes of carriage.


During the first half of the 1960s, the Agency helped them to incorporate the IAEA’s recommendations into their own regulations.


In June 1962, the Board approved the IAEA’s Basic Safety Standards for

Radiation Protection.


These were derived essentially from the recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), which is generally regarded as the impartial and authoritative international body in this field. The basic standards were revised in 1967 and again in the early 1980s

12 to take into account the increasingly rigorous recommendations of the ICRP. The standards were to be revised again ten years later.


The IAEA’s direct involvement in reactor safety began with an analysis of a fatal accident at the Vinča reactor in Yugoslavia in October 1958 and with a safety analysis of the Japanese JRR-3 project.


The Vinča analysis led to an

IAEA publication containing studies of all unclassified reactor accidents.




P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 7

1960, the IAEA arranged for an international evaluation of the safety of the

DIORIT research reactor in Switzerland. This was the first of many such evaluations that the Agency was to arrange in the years ahead.


On 10 March 1961, the IAEA signed an agreement with the Principality of Monaco and the Oceanographic Institute in Monaco (whose Director was

Jacques Cousteau) for co-operation in research on the effects of radiation in the sea.


Subsequently, the parties extended the agreement until 1974 and, in the process, the project was transformed into the International Laboratory of

Marine Radioactivity (ILMR) and again later into the IAEA Marine

Environment Laboratory, or IAEA-MEL (see Chapter 10).

In June 1963, the Board approved the first international agreement for the provision of assistance in the event of a nuclear accident. The agreement

(between the IAEA, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden) was signed in

October 1963.


In the early days of the IAEA, the nuclear safety staff would extol the safety and environmental advantages of nuclear power. It entailed no risk of disastrous dam breaks like the one at Malpasset in the south of France in 1950 which caused 412 deaths,

19 no major mining accidents, no smelly chimneys belching smoke and soot. Moreover, until the Three Mile Island accident the industry had an excellent safety record. In fact, there were no serious radiation

induced casualties at any civilian nuclear power plant until the Chernobyl disaster. Despite nuclear energy’s horrific entry onto the world stage in 1945, there was certainly no animus against the civilian use of nuclear power in the

1950s and early 1960s.

Towards the end of the 1960s, growing public concern about nuclear safety and the prospect of the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human

Environment began to affect the IAEA’s programme. In the IAEA’s 1970–1971

Annual Report, there is the first mention in a formal IAEA document of the

“continuing public debate about the impact of nuclear energy on the environment” and on the role of the IAEA in the Stockholm Conference.



Agency also began to direct more attention to problems of nuclear waste management.

In August 1970, the IAEA and the US Atomic Energy Commission held a large symposium in New York on the environmental aspects of nuclear power stations. The conference concluded that “nuclear power stations contribute far less to environmental pollution than other forms of thermal power” not only because they do not discharge smoke, soot or particles but also “because of the care that the nuclear industry has taken in designing its installations to contain


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A radioactivity safely, as a result of which the radioactive ‘dose’ released to the public is trivial in comparison with natural radioactivity.”


This conclusion may have been factually correct at the time but it reflected a complacency that was to be severely jolted nine years later by Three Mile Island and shattered in due course by Chernobyl.


An interesting aspect of the environmental debate, which was to grow louder and louder during the next two decades, was that until quite recently it focused almost exclusively on civilian nuclear power and largely ignored the fact that the number of nuclear reactors in naval vessels was comparable to the total number of civilian power reactors. It is true that submarine reactors are much smaller than today’s nuclear power plants but, as has become obvious since the end of the Cold War, submarines are by no means exempt from accident or mismanagement and the ultimate disposal of naval reactors, including those that have already sunk or been scuttled, is now seen as a major and very difficult environmental problem.

If one needed an example of selective concern one could choose the citizens of Copenhagen, who have firmly rejected nuclear power, have made numerous complaints about the Barsebäck reactor 20 kilometres away in


23 but do not seem to have been perturbed by the repeated passage of nuclear submarines within a couple of kilometres of Copenhagen’s doorstep.

Ironically, at the same time that the Soviet navy was quietly dumping high level nuclear waste in the form of used naval reactors and their spent fuel off the coast of Novaya Zemlya, the delegation of the Soviet Union frequently and forcefully insisted in the IAEA Board of Governors that there should be a complete prohibition of the Western European practice of dumping low level nuclear wastes at sea.

Even before the Three Mile Island accident and the Chernobyl disaster, public attitudes towards nuclear power began to change, especially in the

USA, but also in much of Western Europe. This is not the place to examine the causes of the change; one may merely note that it soon became a historical fact, and that it had a marked effect on the emphasis, balance and scope of the

IAEA’s work.

Following the June 1972 United Nations environment conference in

Stockholm, the members of the UN agreed in 1973 to establish an agency in

Nairobi to tackle international environmental problems, the United Nations

Environment Programme (UNEP). The IAEA also obtained special funding to expand its safety work in 1973, and sought UNEP help in carrying out several recommendations of the Stockholm Conference.



P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 7

T h e N u c l e a r S a f e t y S t a n d a r d s p r o g r a m m e

In 1974, the IAEA launched the major new Nuclear Safety Standards

(NUSS) programme. This was a comprehensive series of Codes and Safety

Guides intended to ensure the safe design, siting and operation of the current generation of nuclear power reactors and enhance their reliability. Some safety experts from Western Europe initially resisted the Secretariat’s proposal to create the NUSS series; there were even some unfounded suspicions that NUSS was a disguised attempt to constrain the burgeoning nuclear industry of France and Germany by imposing US standards.

The IAEA planned eventually to extend NUSS to fast breeder reactors and other plants in the nuclear fuel cycle. By the time of the Three Mile Island accident the IAEA had published five Codes and ten Safety Guides in the

NUSS series and a further 39 had been or were being prepared.


As Tadeusz Wojcik points out in his essay in Personal Reflections, NUSS was launched at a time when nuclear power was booming, orders for new plants were coming in at the rate of 25–35 a year, many of the orders were for the first nuclear power plant in the country concerned and the IAEA was being called upon to assess the safety of projects at different levels of completion. The choice before the IAEA was to form a standing team of experts, backed up by an advisory committee, to examine each of the projects submitted to it, or alternatively to reach international agreement on the technical principles on which to base safety and reliability criteria for designing, constructing and operating nuclear power plants. Subsequently, the IAEA would draw up guides and manuals prescribing how to meet the established safety and reliability criteria.

The IAEA decided on the second solution and agreed that a series of five NUSS

Codes and 47 Safety Guides should be prepared between 1975 and 1980.

In 1974, the Board discussed whether the forthcoming NUSS documents should have the status of recommendations or should be legally binding, and decided on the former — NUSS documents would be recommendations. The debate was reopened in the 1980s, after the NUSS series had been completed, but, once more, any mandatory prescriptions were rejected. However, in

1987, replies to an IAEA questionnaire from 47 Member States showed that the basic concepts, purposes and functions of their nuclear regulatory bodies generally conformed to the relevant NUSS recommendations.

The issue arose again in 1992 when the IAEA began work on a nuclear safety convention. The group drafting the convention decided not to incorporate any reference to the NUSS codes because of concern about setting in


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A stone, in other words ‘petrification’, of standards that were likely to be subject to many changes over time.


T h r e e M i l e I s l a n d

On 28 March 1979, the core of one of the two nuclear reactors at the

Three Mile Island nuclear power station in Pennsylvania overheated and partially melted down. There was no significant release of radiation beyond the containment structure of the plant and no one was physically injured. But this was the first major accident at a civilian nuclear power station and the psychological effect on the population in the neighbourhood, and eventually throughout the Western world, was immense. So was the damage to the plant itself and to the reputation of the nuclear power industry. In 1979, the total capacity of nuclear power plants on order worldwide actually decreased by about 8000 MW(e); eight new plants were ordered but 14 previous orders were cancelled.


It is of some interest that both the Three Mile Island accident and the far more disastrous accident at Chernobyl took place in the two nuclear weapon

States that had done more than any other nation to promote the civilian as well as military use of nuclear energy, but States that had also taken dangerous short cuts in the early days of the nuclear arms race. These short cuts had no direct relevance to the Three Mile Island accident, but they seem to have contributed to the poor nuclear safety culture in the Soviet Union, a deficiency that played a significant role in the Chernobyl accident.

After Three Mile Island, Director General Eklund convened a group of leading nuclear safety experts to consider what actions the IAEA and its

Member States should take. They recommended that the IAEA should hold specialized meetings on the lessons of the accident, expand safety research and the exchange of information, arrange emergency assistance and provide technical assistance on nuclear safety. States should publish the results of their nuclear safety research more quickly and freely, require an adequate emergency plan before licensing the sale or purchase of a nuclear power plant, negotiate bilateral, multilateral and regional agreements for mutual assistance in the case of an accident, periodically test their plans for dealing with emergencies and ask the IAEA routinely to check the safety work of

Member States.


Brazil, the Federal Republic of Germany and Sweden wrote to Eklund proposing that the IAEA’s nuclear safety programme be promptly reviewed


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 7 and new initiatives undertaken.


The Federal Republic of Germany proposed that international co-operation should focus on evaluating safety concepts, exchanging views on the future of such concepts and comparing basic safety requirements, and that States should intensify nuclear safety research and engineering. Sweden stressed the importance of harmonizing national nuclear safety rules and offered to host an international meeting on nuclear safety.

At the first meeting of the Board after the Three Mile Island accident,

Governors were unanimous in welcoming the three-nation proposals as well as those of the Director General for expanding the IAEA’s programme — provided that, in 1979, the expansion was financed by additional voluntary contributions (which was what Eklund had recommended). The Board was more guarded about Eklund’s recommendation that a number of posts should be added to the Professional staff of the Division of Nuclear Safety and that the regular budget should be increased to finance an expanded safety programme in 1980. France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Canada and the United Kingdom stressed, as they had often done in the past, that national authorities bear ultimate responsibility in matters of nuclear safety.

The accident showed that a State lacking the nuclear experience and resources of the USA would have grave difficulty in coping with an accident on the scale of Three Mile Island and would urgently need international assistance. With the help of leading national experts, the IAEA Secretariat prepared recommendations for prompt notification of a nuclear accident and for mutual assistance in the case of an accident.


Eklund’s recommendations that both matters should be the subject of international conventions were turned down; in the view of the Board clear guidelines would suffice.



Tadeusz Wojcik notes in Personal Reflections, the fact that it took two days before the world knew about Chernobyl showed that ‘clear guidelines’ did not suffice to avoid a reprehensible delay before the public was told about a major accident, and that a binding convention was indeed needed.


The Board did agree on the importance of sharing internationally the lessons learnt from Three Mile Island. In fact, it was clear that the views of governments were beginning to be more broad-minded about the IAEA’s role in nuclear safety. But the rate of change was slow. It would take another far more serious accident to bring about a drastic revision of national attitudes towards the IAEA’s proper responsibilities in nuclear safety.

An immediate consequence of the Three Mile Island accident was the expansion of the NUSS programme that the group of experts and Eklund had


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A recommended. The IAEA also accepted the Swedish offer to serve as host for a nuclear safety meeting and decided to hold a conference in Stockholm in

October 1980 focusing on “current nuclear power plant safety issues.” The

Stockholm conference attracted wide interest, bringing together about

700 nuclear specialists and energy policy makers. It came to the reassuring conclusion that there were “no factors related to safety that limit the use and development of nuclear power” (emphasis in the original),

33 but identified the “machine–man interaction” — i.e. the way in which the operators interact with and control their plants — as an area of weakness and recommended better training of the operators of nuclear power plants and better and more user friendly control instruments. Chernobyl was at first also blamed chiefly on those in control of the plant, but later analyses laid more blame on defects in the design of the Chernobyl type (RBMK) reactor.

In November 1979, the Director General reported to the Board that all

Member States had been informed of the Agency’s willingness to help them incorporate its Codes and Safety Guides into their domestic legislation. He also reported that the Secretariat was making a study of what a government would need in the way of experts, equipment and services to deal with a nuclear emergency and that it was compiling a roster of national experts who would be available to help out in the event of another serious nuclear accident.


Three Mile Island served notice on the nuclear authorities in many countries that a major nuclear accident at a large nuclear power plant was not simply a remote contingency suitable for theoretical studies but a real possibility that nuclear authorities must do everything in their power to avoid, and for which preparations had to be made in case a serious accident nonetheless took place. It certainly gave much impetus to the IAEA’s work relating to nuclear emergencies.

The nuclear establishments of North America, Western, Central and

Northern Europe, as well as those of Japan, the Republic of Korea and the developing countries, generally took the lessons of the accident to heart in the knowledge that an accident of similar magnitude on their territories would inflict a massive and possibly lethal blow to their nuclear industries. In the

USA, the nuclear industry set up a national organization (INPO, the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations) to improve operating safety, for instance by collecting, evaluating and exchanging reports on all nuclear ‘incidents’ at their plants so as to prevent a repetition of Three Mile Island.


The accident also hastened the transfer of responsibility for nuclear safety, in certain countries,


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 7 from the national nuclear energy agency to an independent regulatory authority. It is notable that in the 18 years that have passed since Three Mile

Island, the OECD and developing countries that have nuclear power plants have been free of any serious nuclear accident. There have been a number of leaks of reactor coolants which have attracted extensive attention in the media, but no human life has been threatened and no grave damage has been done to any nuclear plant outside the former Soviet Union.

The Soviet Union’s nuclear industry seemed to learn little from Three

Mile Island. There appears to have been no attempt to apply its lessons. Part of the explanation is perhaps that the Soviet Union was still a closed society operating a command economy in which the experience of other countries could only be internalized and translated into practical action if it had been understood and acted upon by those who gave the commands.

I n c i d e n t R e p o r t i n g S y s t e m

The IAEA had long been trying to set up a global system of reporting on all nuclear accidents and incidents at nuclear power plants (with analyses of cause and recommendations about means of reducing the chances of future accidents), but had run into resistance, apparently on the grounds that the information in question was confidential or proprietary. If the system showed that a particular design of plant or a particular nuclear power station was accident-prone, it could reflect badly on the manufacturer or operator.

In 1978, the OECD’s Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) went ahead and took the first steps to set up its own Incident Reporting System (IRS). In March 1979, the Three Mile Island accident gave additional impetus to the efforts of both agencies and in January 1980 the IRS began operating on a two year trial. At the end of 1981, the NEA member countries formally approved the operation of the system and in 1983 the IAEA extended the IRS to all its interested Member



The aim of the system is to bring ‘safety significant’ incidents to the attention of operators, regulators, constructors and designers of nuclear power plants to enable them to analyse the causes of the incidents and make improvements to avoid the recurrence of a similar incident.

In 1986, the United Kingdom, Canada and Yugoslavia joined the IRS and today virtually all States operating nuclear power plants are in the system.


Since 1982, the total number of reports that the IRS has received each year has ranged from 231 in 1985 to 87 in 1984 — on average between



150 and 160 a year. Since 1996, the NEA and IAEA have jointly operated the

IRS. By 1997, 31 States were selecting events to be reported to the IRS. In April

1997, the computerized database established by the IRS (the Advanced

Incident Reporting System, or AIRS) contained 2522 reports.


T h e a n n u a l n u c l e a r s a f e t y r e v i e w

In 1982, after review by the Board, the IAEA published its first annual nuclear safety review covering 1980–1981 and outlining worldwide trends in nuclear safety and related IAEA work.


The review summarized the conclusions that could be drawn from Three Mile Island. One was that the safety systems of a nuclear power plant (at least of the type in operation at Three

Mile Island) could operate correctly even in extreme accident conditions. The review also listed design improvements that the accident had shown to be desirable. It highlighted the need to make reactors more user friendly through better instrumentation in the control room as well as the need for better training of operators and the need to pay more attention to emergency planning.

The first and second safety reviews also featured the new dose limitation system recommended by the ICRP — essentially there should be no increase in radiation exposures unless in practice they produced a positive net benefit outweighing possible negative effects, doses should be kept ‘as low as reasonably achievable’ and there should be absolute dose limits above which no one should be exposed.

The ICRP recommendations were incorporated into the revised Basic

Safety Standards for Radiation Protection issued by the IAEA in 1982 on behalf of the ILO, NEA and WHO, as well as the Agency.

The reviews published in 1983, 1984 and 1985 focused on natural sources of radiation, the creation of the International Nuclear Safety Advisory

Group (INSAG), the launching of OSARTs (discussed later), technical safety issues and safety analyses of specific nuclear plants under construction such as Sizewell B in the United Kingdom, the Superphénix fast breeder reactor in

France, the fast breeder reactor at Kalkar in Germany, as well as an advanced pressurized water reactor in Japan and a high temperature gas cooled reactor in Germany.

From 1986 to 1988, the contents of the annual reviews were naturally dominated by Chernobyl. From 1989 onwards the review was incorporated into the IAEA Yearbook.


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 7

C h e r n o b y l

If the Pokharan nuclear test was the major nuclear event of the 1970s, the Chernobyl accident on 26 April 1986 had similarly far-reaching repercussions for nuclear energy and the IAEA. We shall look at three aspects of the accident: its causes, its national and international consequences and its impact on the IAEA.

First, the causes. The Governments of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, and the IAEA, jointly with other international organizations and with a great deal of help from other nations, have carried out several thorough and detailed analyses of what went wrong on 25 and 26 April 1986 and why. As noted in

Chapter 5 and below, the IAEA and the Soviet Union convened a crucial international post-accident meeting in August 1986. The proceedings and results of that meeting were analysed by INSAG in September of that year and revised by INSAG in 1992. The two other major projects arranged by the

IAEA and other international bodies concerned were the ‘International

Chernobyl Project’ (1990–1991) and an international conference, ‘One Decade

After Chernobyl’, in 1996.


The sequence of events described below is based on, and the passages quoted are taken from, the revised INSAG report of 1992.

At first there was a tendency to put most blame on the operators for carrying out a dangerous experiment and for reckless disregard of safety requirements.


More recent analyses tend to attribute the disaster also to fundamental defects in the design of the plant. But at a deeper level the Soviet system itself must also be held responsible. The lack of elementary concern about nuclear safety has become clear in numerous operations and incidents, e.g. the Kyshtym accident in the 1950s as a result of which a large region around a reprocessing plant and several rivers were heavily contaminated, or the reckless disposal of nuclear waste and obsolete naval reactors and occasionally their spent fuel in the Kara and Barents Seas, as well as in leaky or overfilled storage facilities on the Kola Peninsula and around Nachodka in the Russian

Far East. The lack of a ‘safety culture’ was also obvious from the fact that the

Soviet nuclear authorities were aware of the design defects of the RBMK reactor and did little or nothing to rectify them despite the fact that two earlier accidents (Leningrad Unit 1 in 1975 and Chernobyl Unit 1 in 1982) “had already indicated major weaknesses in the characteristics and operation of RBMK units,”

42 and the lack of a clear cut and responsive national chain of command and delineation of responsibilities for nuclear safety. This state of affairs may partly be attributed to the nuclear arms race itself and the corners that were


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A cut in the middle and late 1940s and the 1950s, when the Soviet Union was striving desperately to catch up with the USA and get one jump ahead in the design and production of nuclear warheads and their means of delivery.

There seems little doubt that the USA also cut corners; and partly as a consequence it now faces an astronomical cleanup bill.

The following paragraphs contain a simplified outline of what happened on 25 and 26 April 1986.

Nuclear power reactors need a stand-by source of electric power to keep instruments, controls and pumps functioning if, in an emergency, the reactor has to be shut down or shuts itself down and if the electricity supply from the national or regional grid is lost. The aim of the test at Unit 4 that led to the accident was to assess the ability of one of the turbogenerators to provide enough power for an adequate length of time while the reactor, and consequently the turbogenerator, were being run down and the stand-by diesel generators had not yet sprung into operation. For this purpose it was planned firstly to bring down the power of the reactor from its rated output of 1000 MW(e) to

700 MW(th) (about 210 MW(e)) and to start the test by switching off steam from one of the turbogenerators. (The safe course would have been to bring the output of the reactor down to zero, but this would have ruled out the possibility of a second test —which the operators wanted to retain in case the first test was not successful.) The test began just after one o’clock in the morning (01:06) on 25 April and the explosion occurred at 01:24 on the morning of

26 April — slightly more than 24 hours later.


During the test the operators — trying to maintain the decreasing power level and keep alive the possibility of a second test — deliberately and in violation of their operating rules withdrew most of the control and safety rods from the reactor core and switched off some important safety systems that were making it difficult to safely control the power of the reactor. At one stage (at

12:20 on 26 April) the operators were no longer able to maintain the output of the reactor and it dropped to 30 MW(th) or less, but by 01:03 the output had been brought back to 200 MW(th) — again by violating a number of safety regulations.

“It is not known for certain what started the power excursion that destroyed the Chernobyl reactor.”


It was chiefly due to defects in the design of this type of reactor, but “the human factor has still to be considered as a major element.”


At a critical point in the experiment the power output of the reactor began to surge. The operators tried to stop the chain reaction manually by dropping the control and safety rods. It is likely that under the prevailing physical conditions of the reactor core and because of the “faulty


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 7 design of the rods, the nature of which had been discovered” at another

RBMK reactor (Ignalina in Lithuania) in 1983,

46 this last desperate action was a “decisive contributory factor.” Within a few seconds power surged to a level estimated at one hundred times the nominal power of the reactor. The fuel ruptured and a steam explosion ensued, the 1000 tonne cover plate of the reactor lifted and cut all cooling channels. After two or three seconds there was a second explosion, possibly of hydrogen formed in a gas–steam reaction as the graphite burst into flames.

At a more general level: “The accident can be said to have flowed from deficient safety culture, not only at the Chernobyl plant, but throughout the

Soviet design, operating and regulatory organizations for nuclear power that existed at the time.”


The European Commission, the IAEA and the WHO held a major conference — ‘One Decade After Chernobyl’ — in Vienna from 8 to12 April 1996 to sum up the consequences of the accident. As noted in Chapter 5, all the interested UN and regional agencies concerned co-operated to ensure that the findings of the conference were of the highest scientific order and authority and were as widely disseminated as possible.


The following paragraphs detail some of its conclusions (the quotations are from the summary of the conference results).


In 1986, about 116 000 people were evacuated and an exclusion zone of

4300 square kilometres was established in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia.


Since 1990, a further 210 000 persons had been evacuated and resettled, causing hardship and social problems, a fall in the birth rate and migration to

‘clean’ areas, a drop in incomes, and dislocation of industry and farming.

Enforced changes in lifestyle “make everyday life difficult and depressing.”


In addition, 200 000 ‘liquidators’ (e.g. firemen and military personnel) who helped to put out the fire at Unit 4 and to contain the effects of the accident had since dispersed. The accident, the measures taken in response, and the political economic and social changes of the past years had all led to a worsening in the quality of life and public health, further complicated by incomplete and inaccurate public information.


A total of 237 persons were admitted to hospital with clinical symptoms attributable to radiation exposure. Of these, 134 suffered from acute radiation syndrome; 28 of them died within the first three months. Two more died at

Unit 4 from other injuries. Fourteen of the 134 had since died, but their deaths did not correlate with the severity of their original radiation sickness and might therefore not be “directly attributable to radiation exposure.”




The only public health impact discovered so far was “a highly significant increase” in thyroid cancer in those exposed as children; about 800 cases since 1986. So far three children had died of the disease The increase was confined to children born or conceived before the accident. The incidence of thyroid cancer “drops dramatically” in children born more than six months after the accident. However, an increase in thyroid cancer “will most probably continue for several decades.”


There had been “significant health disorders and symptoms amongst the population affected by the Chernobyl accident such as anxiety, depression and various psychosomatic disorders attributable to mental distress” and psychosocial effects such as a feeling of helplessness and despair. Symptoms associated with mental stress “may be among the major legacies of the accident.”


“Among the 7.1 million residents of the ‘contaminated’ territories and

‘strict control zones’, the number of fatal cancers due to the accident is be of the order of 6600 over the next 85 years, against a spontaneous number of 870 000 deaths due to cancer.”


Except for thyroid cancer, future increases of cancer due the accident “would be difficult to discern.”

”While it is not possible to predict with certainty, ...the estimated number of thyroid cancers to be expected among those who were children in 1986 is of the order of a few thousand. The number of fatalities should be much lower than this if cancer is diagnosed in the early stage and if appropriate treatment is given.”


But “any estimates of the total number of fatal and non-fatal cancers attributable to the accident should be interpreted with caution in view of the uncertainties associated with the assumptions on which they must be based.”


In many contaminated areas “in view of the low risk associated with present radiation levels...the benefits of future efforts to reduce doses...would

be outweighed by the negative psychological and economic impacts.”


The clinical impact on populations outside the former USSR had been assessed by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic

Radiation (UNSCEAR), and it was small. UNSCEAR calculated that the highest

European “regional average committed dose” over the 70 years to 2056 will be 1.2 mSv (millisieverts, the unit used for measuring radiation dose to the human body).


By comparison, natural background radiation results in an annual average dose of 2.4 mSv around the world — or over a lifetime of

70 years, about 170 mSv.


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 7

There had been no “sustained severe impacts on [non-human] populations or ecosystems,” but “the possibility of long term genetic impacts and their significance remains to be studied.”


Some key foodstuffs (milk and green vegetables) originally had unacceptably high contamination rates, but in 1996 food produced by collective farms was below the maximum radiation level permitted by the FAO/WHO index.

But game, berries and mushrooms “will continue to show levels of caesium-137 that exceed the Codex Alimentarius levels — in some cases greatly — over the next decades and are likely to be a major source of internal doses...”


Action taken since 1986 has “essentially remedied the design deficiencies that contributed to the accident and “a repetition of the same accident scenario seems no longer practically possible,” but requirements for eliminating design deficiencies not directly related to the Chernobyl accident “are lagging behind what is needed” because of the economic problems of the nations concerned.


If the sarcophagus built around the ruin of the reactor were to collapse

(and “in the long term...its stability and the quality of its confinement are in doubt”) there could be “exposure to radiation of the personnel employed at the site.” However, “even in the worst case, widespread effects (beyond

30 km away), would not be expected.”


Any assessment of the political impact of the accident must be speculative. It is conceivable that it weakened the Soviet system by aggravating the existing distrust of authority, helping to fuel the fires of nationalism and anti-

Russian feeling in the non-Russian republics most affected by the accident. It appears to have led to a demand for greater openness — glasnost — and it surely thrust a grievous load on an economy that was already overstrained by the arms race and suffering from sclerosis.

Paradoxically, while the accident led some other countries promptly to put a stop to any expansion of nuclear power and even to dismantle existing nuclear power plants, it did not have the same impact in Russia, Ukraine,

Belarus or other republics of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Certainly public confidence in nuclear power suffered a severe blow. But the

Russian and Ukrainian programmes for building nuclear power plants are continuing, though at a much reduced pace; Armenia has reopened one of its two nuclear power reactors shut down in 1989 after a severe earthquake.

Belarus is considering whether to build its first nuclear power plant

65 and

Kazakstan may order several new plants, though no firm decision has been taken.




There was particular public concern about radioactive contamination of food by fallout from the accident. This was aggravated by the very different rules that governments laid down about acceptable levels of radioactivity in various foodstuffs. “Strawberries which could be safely eaten in one country could be rejected in another...”


It was clear that the international and regional authorities concerned should seek agreement on common standards (‘intervention criteria’) for prohibiting or permitting the sale of food that might contain dangerous radioisotopes, and this they did in the next few years.

The accident did not put a stop to the Czech and Slovak nuclear power programmes, nor does it seem significantly to have affected the French programme. In fact, France has become an important exporter of nuclear generated electricity to most of its neighbours: to Italy which dismantled its four nuclear power plants, to Germany, Spain and Switzerland where formal or informal moratoriums on new plant orders are in force and to the United

Kingdom which recently commissioned a large new plant but where no new orders are in sight. The USA has long since stopped ordering new plants and

Canada has none on order.

The reactions of the Agency to the Chernobyl accident were prompt and helpful. In early May, upon his own initiative and at the invitation of the

Government of the USSR, Director General Blix, accompanied by two senior

IAEA officials, went to Moscow to discuss how the IAEA could obtain more comprehensive information about the nuclear accident, what the IAEA might do to enable governments and nuclear authorities to learn from the accident and how to get a discussion going on the nuclear safety measures required.

Blix was the first non-Soviet individual to inspect (from the air) the site of the disaster. The IAEA also promptly made contact with national radiation protection authorities in most European countries to obtain a more complete picture of the accident and its immediate consequences. It arranged with other international organizations (WHO, WMO and UNSCEAR) for a systematic collection of data.

In May and June 1986, the Board of Governors approved the

Secretariat’s proposals for:

— A meeting of nuclear experts from the USSR and the rest of the international nuclear community to review the accident, its causes and the measures that should be undertaken in response to it;

— The preparation of two international conventions on early notification of nuclear accidents and on assistance in the case of a nuclear accident;


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 7

— A special meeting of the General Conference to consider how to strengthen international co-operation in nuclear safety and radiological protection;

— A meeting of experts from Member States to review the IAEA’s safety programme.

In July and August 1986, experts from Member States met in Vienna and with the help of the Secretariat drew up the texts of both conventions. At its special meeting in September (immediately before its regular session) the

General Conference approved both conventions, thus setting a speed record for the preparation and approval of intergovernmental agreements. The

Conference also agreed by consensus that “nuclear energy will continue to be an important source of energy...” and that “each country is responsible for ensuring the highest level of safety in its nuclear energy activities; that there is further scope for international co-operation in nuclear safety; and that the

Agency has a central role in encouraging and facilitating such co-operation.”

In late August 1986, the meeting of experts from the Soviet Union and other national nuclear authorities reviewed the causes and course of the disaster and the steps that should be taken to enhance the safety of other RBMK reactors. INSAG prepared a report on the results of the review and on actions to be taken.


The meeting was remarkable in many ways. It showed that there had been a dramatic change in the attitude of Soviet authorities who were quite free and frank about most (if not all) of the defects in the design of the reactor, in operating procedures and the grave deficiencies in the Soviet nuclear safety culture. As noted, there was still a tendency to blame the operators for the accident rather than the system in which they worked but there was no sense that the Soviet participants were attempting to hold back or distort information.

The ‘Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident’, to give it its official title, entered into force on 27 October 1986 and the ‘Convention on

Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency’ entered into force on 26 February 1987. In 1987, Brazil made the first request for help under the latter Convention.


In November an expert working group reviewed the Secretariat’s proposals for expanding its work on nuclear power plant safety and in December the Board approved an expanded programme.


The IAEA as well as WHO, FAO, UNSCEAR and the NEA individually and jointly addressed the problem of international standardization of


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A intervention levels. In 1993, the IAEA published an interim report on the matter.


After circulation for comments to the Member States and interested international organizations, the IAEA issued the revised document in



In the meantime (in 1989) the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius recommended international standards for radionuclide contamination of food moving in international trade.


The FAO and IAEA jointly recommended plans to protect farming areas after a nuclear accident — in other words how to minimize the radiological doses that people, land and crops and livestock received from Chernobyl. The recommendations or guidelines were based partly on a Co-ordinated Research

Programme of the IAEA and the European Union. The IAEA technical co-operation programme also launched projects in Belarus and Ukraine to reduce the uptake of dangerous radioisotopes by people and livestock. Farm land in Belarus, Ukraine and western Russia was reploughed and reseeded.

Lime and potassium fertilizers were then applied to reduce the uptake of caesium-137 and strontium-90. Prussian Blue was fed to domestic animals and game as a means of lowering the levels of caesium-137. In Belarus and

Ukraine farmers were encouraged to grow cash crops such as rape seed (of which the oil may be used as a lubricant) on ‘contaminated’ land.


S p e c i a l p r o g r a m m e s

As for the surviving Chernobyl and other RBMK type reactors, the

European Union, the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO), and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), as well as the IAEA launched programmes or provided funds to improve the safety of particular plants or of all reactors of this type. Canada, France, Germany,

Japan, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the USA launched similar bilateral programmes and Sweden took a particular interest in improving the safety of the Ignalina RBMK across the Baltic in Lithuania.

The IAEA’s role was to consolidate the results of these various programmes and to secure an international consensus on the improvements needed. The

IAEA provided a basis for technical and financial decisions.

As late as autumn 1996 the general conclusion was that international help had “increased confidence that the major shortcomings and the required safety improvements of RBMK reactors have been identified.” However, the extent to which the recommended improvements had been made varied


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 7 considerably and much more had to be done to analyse the problems of specific plants.


It was clear that much more money would be needed, particularly from

Western governments and institutions, to put the recommendations into effect but it was by no means clear that the needed funds would be forthcoming.

T h e ‘ I n t e r n a t i o n a l C h e r n o b y l P r o j e c t ’

The initiatives undertaken by the IAEA in 1986 greatly helped to deepen international understanding of what went wrong at Chernobyl and what should be done at the international level in order to prevent a recurrence of the disaster — and to react effectively to any major nuclear accident that might happen in the future. Blix’s readiness to provide prompt and decisive leadership greatly enhanced his standing. His voice now carried considerable weight in Moscow and Bonn as well as in Washington and many other capitals.

It is relevant at this point to consider the subsequent follow-up to

Chernobyl. In October 1989, the Government of the Soviet Union asked the

IAEA to arrange for international experts to assess the concept that the USSR had evolved “to enable the population to live safely in areas affected by radioactive contamination” as a result of the accident and to evaluate “the effectiveness of the steps taken to safeguard the health of the population.”


The IAEA brought together a multinational team of experts from the three affected Soviet republics and from the Commission of the European

Communities (now the European Union), FAO, ILO, UNSCEAR, WHO and

WMO to form an International Advisory Committee in order to plan and monitor the ‘International Chernobyl Project’. The Chairman of the Committee was Professor Itsuzo Shigematsu, Head of the Radiation Effects Research

Foundation of Hiroshima. In February 1990, a meeting in Moscow formally approved the Project. The International Advisory Committee presented its report to an international conference in Vienna in May 1991.

The conclusions in the Project’s report are for the most part similar to those of the 1996 conference ‘One Decade After Chernobyl’, some of the main conclusions of which have been listed earlier. By 1991, the abnormal incidence of childhood thyroid cancer had not yet become apparent but the

Project report foresaw that in view of the doses reportedly received, “there may be a statistically detectable increase in the incidence of thyroid tumours in the future.” As for other health impacts, the Project report noted that “the


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A official data examined did not indicate a marked increase in the incidence of leukemia or other cancers.” Critics complained that the Project did not examine the consequences of Chernobyl for the ‘liquidators’. It was not asked to do so, and, if it had been, the task might have been very difficult since many of the persons concerned had long since dispersed to other parts of the Soviet


S u p p o r t o f r e s e a r c h

In the area of nuclear safety, the IAEA has supported research on:

— Radiation protection of workers, including development of techniques for the assessment of occupational exposure;

— Radiation protection of the public, including environmental radiation monitoring and studies on the behaviour of radionuclides in the environment;

— Protection of the patient in radiodiagnosis and radiotherapy, including methods for reduction of doses in diagnostic radiology;

— Biological and medical techniques for the diagnosis and treatment of overexposed individuals;

— Engineering safety, including the performance of safety related equipment at nuclear power plants, fire protection and seismic safety;

— Operational safety, including maintenance of safety related equipment at nuclear power plants;

— Methods for incident and accident analysis;

— Safety assessment methods and techniques;

— Safe transport of radioactive materials, including the testing of transport packages.

In September 1990, the IAEA, USSR, Ukraine and Belarus signed an agreement, sponsored by the Soviet Union, to establish a Chernobyl Centre for International Research on Post-Accident Conditions.

N e w s a f e t y p r o g r a m m e s a n d s e r v i c e s

7 7

Well before Chernobyl, in fact for nearly thirty years, the IAEA’s nuclear safety programmes had been achieving useful results. But Chernobyl radically changed the way in which Member States looked at the question of nuclear


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 7 safety — at the pressing need for closer international co-operation, and hence at the Agency’s work and its potential for raising safety standards and avoiding future accidents or mitigating their effects. Chernobyl also greatly increased interest in several existing safety programmes and demands for safety services, especially those that had been launched or substantially expanded after the Three Mile Island accident, and prompted the launching of new safety programmes and projects.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the IAEA helped its Member States, when so requested, to deal with practical problems of radiation protection and nuclear safety, including the safe handling of nuclear waste, but the bulk of its work lay, quite logically in those early days, in the preparation of internationally accepted standards which provided guidance for Member States and for the

IAEA’s own work.

The IAEA continued to set and revise standards throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, but after the Three Mile Island accident, and especially after

Chernobyl, it focused increasingly on raising consciousness in Member States of the overriding importance of nuclear safety, and on practical steps to raise the levels of safety and radiation protection, both nationally and at particular nuclear plants. It did not wait for new problems to arise, but tried to anticipate them and took practical steps to avoid or minimize them.

Specifically, the IAEA sought to ensure that:

— Effective national safety legislation, regulations and codes of practice were in force and took full account of recently approved basic safety standards;

— National regulatory bodies were in operation and functioning effectively;

— Radiation dosimetry services were being provided;

— Programmes and procedures for coping with emergencies were in place;

— Radiation sources were registered and licensed to ensure safe design and use;

— Adequate programmes were in place for protecting workers, the public and the environment against radiation;

— The Member States concerned could deal effectively with all issues arising in the design, construction and operation of nuclear plants (e.g. selection of safe and appropriate sites, management of severe accidents, fire safety).

To achieve these aims the IAEA focused its technical co-operation programme increasingly upon nuclear safety and radiation protection. It granted


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A several hundred fellowships and organized numerous regional and interregional training courses and seminars. From 1990 onwards the IAEA carried out extensive programmes to help the countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union to improve the safety of the nuclear power plants of various designs, starting with the first generation ‘water–water energy reactors — 440 MW(e)/230s’ (WWER-440/230s).

In 1985, after extensive consultations with non-governmental bodies dealing with the civilian use of nuclear energy, the Director General established a new nuclear safety ‘think tank’, the International Nuclear Safety

Advisory Group, or INSAG, to which we have already referred. INSAG consisted of 14 internationally renowned experts drawn from the nuclear industry, nuclear research and nuclear regulatory bodies. Its tasks were to advise the Director General on the principles on which to base safety standards and measures, provide a forum for exchanging information on general safety issues of international significance, identify and review important current safety issues and advise on those issues that require additional study and exchange of information.

From 1982 onwards the IAEA also methodically devised a growing range of specialized services or missions to help the authorities responsible for nuclear and radiation safety in Member States and the managers of nuclear plants.

It should be stressed that the services of these missions, like other components of the Agency’s work in nuclear safety and waste management, are advisory and their conclusions have the status of recommendations to the

Member State or institution concerned. However, if the report of the mission shows that there are glaring deficiencies in nuclear safety, the IAEA writes to the government concerned and strongly urges it to take the measures needed to remedy the deficiency. In short, although the missions are not regulatory they are as a rule influential and effective.

Underpinning the work of these missions was the growing body of

IAEA sponsored international standards and safety criteria as well as the specialist advisory groups that kept these standards and criteria under review. These groups included the ICRP and the International Commission on Radiation Units and Measurements (ICRU), which are independent nongovernmental organizations established before the Second World War.

The existing and new IAEA missions and their services are discussed below.

Operational Safety Review Teams — OSARTs — were started in 1982.

They do not assess overall plant safety or compare the safety of different


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 7 plants but rather review management, organization, operations, maintenance, technical support, radiation protection, chemistry and emergency planning. They draw on the best international safety standards and practices for plant operation and on INSAG’s report on ‘safety culture’ (see below) as well as on the experience of the individual members of the team.

An OSART is typically composed of five or six nuclear safety experts from various countries and two or three from the staff of the IAEA itself. It spends about three weeks at the nuclear power plant and makes an in-depth review of the way in which the plant is being operated. The team sends the government concerned a report on its findings and its recommendations for improving safety at the plant.

In 1983, the first OSART went to the Republic of Korea,

78 in 1984

OSARTs went to Yugoslavia and the Philippines and in 1985 to Brazil, France,

Pakistan and to the Philippines for a second visit.

Chernobyl brought about a sharp increase in the number of requests for

IAEA missions, now increasingly from the industrialized countries. In 1986, there were six requests for OSARTs, four by industrialized countries (the

Federal Republic of Germany, Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden; the other two by Mexico and the Republic of Korea). The number of OSART missions grew from 6 in 1986 to 11 in 1989 and then settled down to 5 to 7 a year from 1990 to 1995. By the end of 1995, 79 OSARTs and 31 follow-up missions had reviewed safety at 69 nuclear power plants in 28 countries. All but three Member States of the IAEA that have nuclear power reactors in operation (i.e. all but Belgium, India and Kazakstan) had received OSART missions.

Assessment of Safety Significant Events Teams — ASSETs — screen and analyse events related to nuclear safety that result from failures during the operation of nuclear power plants, and deficiencies discovered during routine surveillance and testing. Their aim is to help prevent or mitigate future accidents by learning the root causes of events of less safety importance.

ASSETs may also be used to train plant personnel.

In 1986, the IAEA sent out its first ASSET.


By mid-1995, 19 Member States had requested 61 ASSETs for the analysis of safety related events (17 requested by Russia and 12 by Ukraine) and 28 States had asked for 66 ‘training’ ASSETs

(11 by Russia and 8 by Ukraine).

Engineering Safety Review Services — ESRS — provide advice on the engineering safety of operating or planned nuclear power reactors, for instance on an appropriate and safe choice of the site of the plant, protection


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A against external hazards such as earthquakes, the management of accidents and the impact of ageing. Since few nuclear power plants are being built today, most ESRS have assessed or re-assessed the safety of existing plants, especially WWERs.

One fact that emerged from these assessments was that Soviet designed power reactors (WWER-440/230s, WWER-440/213s and RBMKs) are not designed to have a structural resistance to earthquakes. While those power plant components that come under pressure, such as the reactor vessel, are designed to withstand extreme loads, the superstructure housing the reactor, the turbines and emergency diesels, are designed as ordinary industrial buildings with little cross-bracing to resist earthquake induced stress. Hence about two thirds of the 99 ESRS that the IAEA sent to 24 countries from

February 1989 to mid-1995 assessed seismic hazards at nuclear power plants in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Subsequently, a number of governments decided to strengthen the structures, systems and components of their nuclear power plants so as better to withstand seismic stress, namely

Bulgaria (Kozloduy), Slovakia (Bohunice and Mochovce), Hungary (Paks) and Armenia (Medzamor). Pakistan arranged for a seismic review of the

Chasnupp power reactor sold to it by China and under construction at

Chashma since 1993. The mission also made a summary inspection of the

Kanupp power reactor.

The International Peer Review Service for Probabilistic Safety

Assessment — IPERS-PSA — was started in 1988. This service arranges for international teams of experts to carry out independent reviews of the ‘probabilistic safety assessments’ that Member States are making or have made of their nuclear power plants. By mid-1995, 35 such reviews had been made.

They had focused increasingly on WWER reactors in Eastern Europe and in the former Soviet Union, but peer reviews had also been made in the

Netherlands, the Republic of Korea, Sweden, Switzerland and China.

Integrated Safety Assessments of Research Reactors — INSARRs — as their name implies, assess the safety of research reactors. The IAEA began making such assessments in 1972, chiefly because they were required by a project or supply agreement, usually with a developing country, but several

INSARRs have also been sent upon the explicit request of a Member State.

INSARR missions examine the safety analysis reports drawn up for these agreements and check whether they are up to date. They also assess whether the reactor is being operated in conformity with IAEA guidelines, the way in which the reactor is being maintained, the training and qualification of plant


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 7 personnel, and the way in which radiation protection is ensured. The missions observe the operation of the plant, if possible during startup and shutdown.

In 1987, INSARR missions visited research reactors in industrialized countries — Finland and Norway — for the first time.


By mid-1995, the

IAEA had made 123 assessments in 37 Member States, with no charge if the beneficiary was a developing country. The peak years for assessments were

1982–1985 and 1987–1993 in response to explicit requests by Member States.

The chief weak points detected included poor or out-of-date safety documents, lack of, or poor quality assurance programmes, and incomplete written procedures for maintenance, testing and inspection. As noted, if the IAEA discovers major deficiencies, for instance that the safety system is not working properly, it requests in writing that the INSARR’s recommendations be implemented and INSARR checks that this is done.

In 1994, the IAEA began drawing up recommendations for safe practices based on the lessons learnt from previous accidents, as well as an inventory of large gamma irradiators, a list of safety issues to be checked by the regulatory authorities and plant managers and a worldwide survey of the safety of such plants, especially those provided by the IAEA. The IAEA also launched an international reporting system on accidents and unusual events.

Assessment of Safety Culture in Organizations Teams — ASCOTs — are designed to help Member States assess and improve their own nuclear ‘safety culture’. Most of the 24 ASCOT services provided by early 1995 took the form of seminars explaining the concept of safety culture and indicating the best methods of assessing it. By that date there had been three IAEA reviews at nuclear power plants in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and South

Africa. The deficiencies noted during these reviews included inadequate statements of policy, especially failure to emphasize the overriding importance of safety, failure to ensure that all personnel were aware of the statements of policy, failure to include safety culture in training programmes, failure to appreciate good ‘safety performance’, infrequent checks by supervisors, absence of a questioning attitude amongst personnel, failure to encourage and reward the identification of safety problems and acceptance of superficial explanations of safety related events.

Finally, International Regulatory Review Teams — IRRTs — review the adequacy of national nuclear safety regulations and of the national system for applying them and assessing and enforcing their observance. The first IRRT visited Brazil in 1988.



T h e c r e a t i o n o f W A N O

In 1988–1989, the managers of nuclear power plants throughout the world formed an association in order to improve the operational safety of their plants by strengthening the links and the exchange of information between them. The World Association of Nuclear Operators chose London for its headquarters but held its first meeting in Moscow in May 1989. The first head of WANO was the late Lord Walter Marshall of Goring, an outstanding figure in the development of energy policy in the United Kingdom — as chief of the UKAEA and subsequently of the Central Electricity Generating Board

— and a much respected member of the IAEA’s Scientific Advisory



S p e c i a l h e l p t o R u s s i a , U k r a i n e a n d o t h e r E a s t e r n E u r o p e a n c o u n t r i e s

Chernobyl cast doubt not only on the safety of the RBMK reactor but also on that of certain other earlier Soviet reactors, in particular the WWER-440/230 power reactor. This is the older model of the standard Soviet 440 MW(e) light water nuclear power plant.


On 21 September 1990, the General Conference approved a comprehensive resolution on nuclear safety.


It welcomed the Board’s intention to convene in 1991 “a high level international conference on nuclear

define the nuclear safety agenda for the decade,” noted the consensus that the revised NUSS codes were suitable for use by or provided useful guidance to

Member States in drafting or revising their own laws, recommended that

Member States make full use of OSARTs and ASSETs, welcomed the Agency’s

International Nuclear Event Scale and endorsed the project for a comprehensive assessment of the radiological consequences of Chernobyl described earlier. It also endorsed “the proposed project for international assistance in assessing, following the request of several Member States, the safety of some of their nuclear reactors” — in other words, to assess the safety of the WWER-440/230 plants operating in the USSR and Eastern Europe (the design of the WWER-440 reactor is quite different from that of the Chernobyl (RBMK) type and resembles that of the US Westinghouse pressurized water reactor and similar power reactors in France, Germany and Japan, but the original WWERs lacked several of the safety features required in the West).


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 7

In the same year (1990), the IAEA sent missions to investigate problems with WWER-440 plants at Greifswald in the German Democratic Republic,

Bohunice in Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia) and Kozloduy in Bulgaria.


Soon after reunification, the German Government decided to dismantle the five

WWER-440/230 plants at Greifswald.

In 1992, the IAEA extended the safety programme to cover RBMK reactors

85 and in 1993 to cover the more modern WWER-440/213 and the larger (1000 MW(e)) WWER-1000 plants.


Thus by that year IAEA safety assessments were covering all Russian and Eastern European nuclear power plants. The IAEA co-ordinated its work with that of the G-24 nations

— the Western countries — offering help to Russia, Ukraine and other countries in Eastern Europe to improve the safety of reactors of Soviet design.


M o r e r e c e n t w o r k o f I N S A G

As noted above, in 1986 INSAG compiled a summary report (INSAG-1) on the 1986 meeting that the IAEA and the Soviet Union had held after the

Chernobyl accident — the meeting at which Soviet participants had given such open reports on the accident. After 1986 a large body of new information emerged about the causes and course of the accident. This required a review of some of the conclusions reached in 1986. INSAG accordingly set to work on a new report, updating INSAG-1. It was published in 1992 as INSAG-7.

In 1988, INSAG completed a pioneering work on Basic Safety Principles

for Nuclear Power Plants (INSAG-3), of which more than 8000 copies were distributed. Nuclear Safety Fundamentals,

88 based on INSAG-3, served as a starting point for the ‘Convention on Nuclear Safety’ completed in 1994.

By the end of 1996, INSAG had completed ten independent and useful reports containing recommendations to the IAEA and to the scientific, technical and regulatory community (INSAG’s recommendations are addressed to and are not by the IAEA).

C o m p l e t i o n o f N U S S

In 1986, the IAEA completed the NUSS programme which it had begun in 1974. Under this programme the IAEA prepared 5 Codes and 55 Safety

Guides for nuclear power plants.


The Guides provided advice on governmental organization for ensuring safety at such plants, on their siting, their


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A design, their operation and quality assurance. The completion of NUSS marked the IAEA’s continuing shift away from drafting guides relating to the safety of nuclear power plants to helping States to put them into effect.

However, much work still had to be done in drafting guides on other matters such as radiation safety and the safety of radioactive wastes.

S a f e t y p r o b l e m s o f a g e i n g r e a c t o r s

By the end of the 1990s, more than 200 nuclear power plants will have been in operation for 20 or more years. An IAEA symposium in 1987 showed the growing interest of nuclear safety authorities in exchanging information about the problems that might be caused by the ageing of such plants. The problems of ageing also affect research reactors. In 1995, more than 40% of those operating around the world were more than 30 years old. Since 1972 and by the end of 1995, the IAEA had sent out 123 missions in 37 countries to assess the safety of research reactors.


B a s i c s a f e t y s t a n d a r d s a n d t h e l i n e a r d o s e – e f f e c t a s s u m p t i o n

As already noted, the IAEA’s basic safety standards for protecting workers and the public against excessive radiation are based chiefly on the recommendations of an independent scientific organization, the ICRP.


The IAEA first issued the standards in 1962, revised them in 1967 and again in



In 1990, the ICRP published a new set of recommendations and in 1991 a joint secretariat of the international and regional agencies concerned,

WHO, ILO, FAO, NEA and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) as well as the IAEA, began the revision of the IAEA’s standards of 1982. One of the main changes introduced was a reduction in “occupational dose limits”

— the maximum radiation dose to which it would be permissible to expose workers in nuclear occupations during one year.


The Board approved the revised basic safety standards in 1994. They were subsequently endorsed or adopted by the Governing Bodies of all five co-sponsoring agencies (PAHO, FAO, WHO, ILO and the NEA). The adoption of the new basic standards made it necessary to review all IAEA documents in its ‘Safety Series’ to ensure that they were consistent with the new standards.

A fundamental assumption reflected in the standards is that at low doses the probability of harm to humans is in direct proportion to the radiation dose


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 7 that the person receives. In other words it is assumed that there is no threshold dose below which no significant damage is done. Part of the reason for the linear dose–effect assumption is that no experimental evidence exists of the results of low exposures; in fact the main data available are from the survivors of

Hiroshima and Nagasaki, who received high doses. These are then extrapolated down in a straight line on the premise of a linear dose–effect relationship. In the absence of evidence to the contrary this is regarded as a prudent assumption.

Recent fundamental research in molecular genetics and cellular biology and new epidemiological evidence has led to much debate on the effects of low doses and on the adequate control of such doses. This may have an effect on radiation protection standards, an issue of significance to the IAEA, WHO and other organizations that translate the ICRP’s recommendations into these standards, and to the nuclear industry which must ensure that its workers and the public do not receive excessive radiation doses from their operations. The IAEA and WHO, in co-operation with UNSCEAR, will hold an international conference on the matter in Seville in November 1997.


Perhaps some more light will also be shed on the issue by the joint US–Russian research now being undertaken on the effects of lengthy exposures (over a wide range of lower doses) of workers and the public in the Mayak nuclear weapon complex in the Southern

Urals (a nuclear weapon manufacturing centre in the former Soviet Union).


T h e I n t e r n a t i o n a l N u c l e a r E v e n t S c a l e

The IAEA’s International Nuclear Event Scale (INES) classifies incidents and accidents at reactors on a scale that ranges from the most minor (Level 1) to the most severe (Level 7). Levels 1–3 are termed ‘incidents’, Levels 4–7 are

‘accidents’; Chernobyl would have been a Level 7 accident. The scale was designed by an international group of experts convened jointly by the IAEA and NEA as an objective means of quantifying the severity of the consequences of a nuclear event and putting such events into proper perspective in order to establish a common understanding between nuclear experts, the media and the public.

INES is based on concepts first devised in France and Japan. In 1990,

INES was accepted for a trial period. By the year’s end 25 States had informed the IAEA that they were using the scale and undertook to inform the IAEA

(for worldwide dissemination of their report) within 24 hours of any events of Level 2 or above on the INES scale. By mid-1997, 59 Member States were using INES.



Te c h n i c a l c o - o p e r a t i o n i n n u c l e a r s a f e t y

In the 1960s and 1970s, technical assistance in nuclear safety and waste management played only a relatively minor part in the Agency’s technical co-operation programme. Thus, immediately after the Three Mile Island accident, nuclear safety accounted for only about 8% of the total programme while nuclear power accounted for nearly a third. In the years following

Three Mile Island, the share of nuclear power began to decline while that of safety steadily increased to more than a quarter of the total. By 1995, the programme involved more than 150 national, regional and interregional projects.

In 1995, out of the 90 or so countries that were receiving assistance under the technical co-operation programme, 18 were operating nuclear power plants and the IAEA had substantially helped to improve their safety infrastructure and practices. For example, between 1980 and 1995 over 5000 persons were trained in nuclear safety.

The repercussions of Chernobyl and of the breakup of the Soviet Union gave the technical co-operation programme fresh impetus as the IAEA sought to help the States of Central and Eastern Europe deal with their nuclear safety and waste management problems. Many of them depended and still depend on nuclear power for a significant proportion of their electricity. The extreme case is Lithuania (83.44% — the highest proportion of nuclear generated electricity in the world). Others with substantial shares are Slovakia (44.53%),

Bulgaria (42.24%), Hungary (42.30%), Slovenia (37.87% ), Ukraine (37.8%) and the Czech Republic (20.1%).


Shutting down even older plants was thus likely to cause painful consequences for the economy and for the well being of the population, particularly in winter.

Technical assistance was given to Armenia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic,

Lithuania, Russia, Slovenia, Slovakia and Ukraine to upgrade the safety of

WWER plants.


After Russia discontinued the former Soviet policy of requiring that all spent fuel should be returned to it, the problem of waste management in several of the countries became pressing.


With support from the European Union and through the technical co-operation programme, the IAEA also helped Croatia, Hungary, Romania,

Slovakia and Ukraine to prepare legislation covering nuclear safety and waste management and to establish effective regulatory bodies.


In 1994, the

IAEA prepared a basic national and regional programme of assistance for

Belarus, Estonia, Kazakstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova and Uzbekistan, covering the infrastructure needed for radiation protection, nuclear safety


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 7 and waste management.


The costs of upgrading the civilian nuclear infrastructure in the Soviet Union’s successor States are far beyond the Agency’s means. However, the Agency’s work relating to RBMK and other Soviet reactors eventually attracted the attention of the G-7, G-24 and other donors.

The IAEA also worked with the European Union in sending out missions to several Eastern European countries, including Romania which was just about to start up its first nuclear power reactor.


Under what is known as a

‘Model Project’, the IAEA helped Slovakia to establish a nuclear regulatory body and gave similar help to Ukraine to apply international standards of radiation protection, nuclear safety and waste management.


The IAEA, together with the European Union, Japan, Spain and the USA, helped Bulgaria to improve the ability of two nuclear power plants at Kozloduy to withstand earthquakes.


It also helped Hungary to train staff and improve safety at the

Paks nuclear power plant (see next paragraph) and Ukraine to reduce radioisotopes in the food of persons — particularly children — affected by Chernobyl.

A novel example of a model technical co-operation project was begun by the IAEA in Hungary in 1994.


The Hungarian Atomic Energy Commission decided to set up a training centre to improve the nuclear safety culture at

Hungary’s Paks nuclear power plant (which supplies more than 40% of

Hungary’s electricity). The centre was also expected to serve the training needs of seven other countries, including Finland, operating WWER-440/230,

440/213 or 1000 type nuclear power reactors. For this purpose it was decided to build a mock nuclear reactor from the unused parts of abandoned WWER power plants. The dummy has all the key components of a WWER-440/213 reactor, including the pressure vessel, steam generator, circulation pumps and piping which the IAEA bought after the German and Polish Governments took out of operation or cancelled plans to complete all nuclear power reactors of Soviet design.

In view of the number and diversity of the States and organizations involved in improving nuclear safety in Eastern Europe and in the successor

States of the Soviet Union it was important to avoid duplication of work and gaps in assistance activities. To this end, in 1992 donor and recipient countries agreed to participate in a ‘Nuclear Safety Assistance Co-ordination’ body or

NUSAC, established by the G-24 countries. The IAEA has acted as NUSAC’s technical adviser.

Other recent technical co-operation projects may be briefly described. In

1994, the IAEA completed three significant interregional projects for technical co-operation to strengthen radiation safety by securing acceptance of the



IAEA’s basic safety standards, to improve procedures for management of nuclear waste and to provide advice on the handling of emergencies and reduction of radiation exposures.

The first was an 11-year undertaking that assessed the status of radiation safety in 64 developing countries and recommended a number of improvements. Radiation Protection Advisory Teams (RAPATs) were the main vehicle used in this project. It was followed by a project designed to help all Member

States to fully apply in due course the IAEA’s basic safety standards.

The second interregional project involved the work of the IAEA Waste

Management Advisory Programme (WAMAP). Over a period of eight years

WAMAP missions advised 42 countries on the management of radioactive waste resulting from power and research reactors, uranium mining and milling and the use of radioisotopes.

The third project was to help developing countries deal with nuclear emergencies and to improve radiation protection in medical practice.


A n e w h i e r a r c h y o f s a f e t y s t a n d a r d s a n d n e w a d v i s o r y b o d i e s

In 1989, following the substantial growth in the IAEA’s safety related work, the Secretariat introduced a new structure for publications in the IAEA

Safety Series. They were divided into four categories, the first and second to be submitted to the Board for approval and the third and fourth to be issued under the authority of the Director General.

Safety Fundamentals: These are the ‘primary texts’ for other publications in the Safety Series. They state “the basic objectives, concepts and principles involved” but do not “...provide technical details and generally do not discuss the application of principles.“ Three Safety Fundamentals were issued from 1993 to 1996, namely, The Safety of Nuclear Installations

(Safety Series No. 110, 1993), The Principles of Radioactive Waste Management

(Safety Series No. 111-F, 1995) and Radiation Protection and the Safety of

Radiation Sources (Safety Series No. 120, 1996) jointly sponsored by FAO,


As noted, the first document (The Safety of Nuclear Installations) provided the basis for the ‘Convention on Nuclear Safety’, which is more fully examined later.


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 7

Safety Standards: These specify the basic requirements for ensuring the safety of particular activities or areas of application. They are mandatory for the IAEA’s own operations and the operations it assists. The best known example is the Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive

Material (Safety Series No. 6).

Safety Guides: These represent essentially recommended measures to ensure the observance of Safety Standards.

Safety Practices: These give examples of methods that can be used to implement Standards and Guides.

In recent years, the Safety Series has been replaced by the ‘Safety

Standards Series’ (with ‘Fundamentals’, ‘Requirements’ and ‘Guides’) and a more general ‘Safety Reports Series’.

The Secretariat has recently created the following bodies to help prepare and review all documents:

Advisory Commission for Safety Standards (ACSS). The top advisory body, consisting of senior government officials responsible nationally for establishing standards and regulations on nuclear safety, waste management and the transport of radioactive materials. It advises the Director

General on the Safety Standards programme, ensures consistency and coherence, resolves issues referred to it by any of the other advisory committees and endorses the texts of Safety Fundamentals documents.

Nuclear Safety Standards Advisory Committee (NUSSAC). Comprises senior officials technically expert in nuclear safety. It advises the Secretariat on, for instance, NUSS documents and seeks agreement on the texts of

Safety Standards relating to nuclear power reactors.

Radiation Safety Standards Advisory Committee (RASSAC). Performs similar functions in regard to radiation safety.

Waste Safety Standards Advisory Committee (WASSAC). Performs similar functions in regard to the safety of nuclear waste.

Transport Safety Standards Advisory Committee (TRANSSAC). Performs similar functions in regard to the transport of radioactive materials.

T h e ‘ C o n v e n t i o n o n N u c l e a r S a f e t y ’ a n d p r o g r e s s t o w a r d s a c o n v e n t i o n o n n u c l e a r w a s t e

As noted in Chapter 5, the Secretariat had sought since the 1960s to persuade nuclear regulatory authorities and the nuclear industry, as well as


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A members of the Board, of the need for an international convention on the safety of nuclear power. The Secretariat argued that such a convention would help to set minimum uniform and global standards for an activity that lay at the centre of the civilian uses of nuclear energy. It would also help to create public confidence, allay some of the widespread distrust and promote international commerce in nuclear power. It was surely an anomaly that the IAEA had been able to launch conventions dealing with physical protection, civil liability for nuclear damage and the liability of operators of nuclear ships, but had not attempted to draw up a convention dealing with the core issue.

For many years, the Secretariat’s arguments fell on deaf ears. But, as we have seen, Three Mile Island and Chernobyl eventually led to a more receptive attitude towards proposals for expanding the IAEA’s safety role.

From 2 to 6 September 1991, acting on a proposal by the European

Union, the Agency convened an international conference on the safety of nuclear power. The conference reviewed nuclear power safety issues on which an international consensus was considered to be necessary and made recommendations for future national and international actions to this end.

The conference’s conclusions became part of the IAEA’s contribution to the

UN Conference on Environment and Development at Rio de Janeiro in



During the conference the German Minister for the Environment,

Klaus Töpfer, put forward the idea of an international convention on nuclear safety, an idea that Hans Blix vigorously supported.


In the same month (September 1991), the General Conference asked that a start be made on drafting the convention, and in December 1991 the

Director General convened a group of experts to advise on the structure and content of such a convention.


Work on the document began in 1992

109 and in June 1994 the IAEA convened a diplomatic conference to consider and approve the draft. In September 1994, the Convention was opened for signature and it entered into force on 24 October 1996.

The ‘Convention on Nuclear Safety’ is the first international document that legally binds its parties to ensure the safety of land based civilian nuclear power reactors (it does not apply to military or marine power reactors). The fundamental principle of the Convention is that “...responsibility for nuclear safety rests with the State having jurisdiction over a nuclear installation.”

The parties accept three categories of obligations. Each party must establish a legislative framework and independent regulary body, separate from any other body concerned with promoting and using nuclear energy

(Articles 7 and 8). Safety must be ensured by a system of licensing, inspection


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 7 and enforcement (Article 7). Each party must ensure fulfilment of the technical requirements for safe siting, design, construction and operation of the plant concerned throughout its lifetime (Articles 17–19).


Each party must also arrange for a review of the safety of all the nuclear installations on its territory as soon as possible after the Convention enters into force for that party. If improvements are necessary to upgrade the safety of an installation the government is required to introduce them as a matter of urgency and if the upgrading is not possible the government must shut the plant down “as soon as is practically possible” (Article 6).

The parties must hold review meetings at intervals of not more than three years (Article 21.3), the first review meeting to take place within

30 months of the Convention’s entry into force (Article 21. 2). Each party must submit to every review meeting a report on the measures it has taken to implement each of the obligations under the Convention (Article 5). The IAEA will provide the secretariat for the review meetings (Article 28).

As noted by Ambassador van Gorkom in his article in Personal

Reflections, the nuclear safety convention, together with the two 1986 conventions on notification of nuclear accidents and on assistance to be given in the event of an accident, “ an important step towards a comprehensive international safety regime.” The next step, endorsed by the General Conference in September 1994, was the preparation of a convention on the safety of nuclear waste management.


By 18 April 1997, the ‘Convention on Nuclear Safety’ had been ratified by 37 States. The States operating nuclear power reactors that had not ratified the Convention by that date were Armenia, India, Kazakstan, Pakistan,

Ukraine and the USA, but most of them were expected to complete the process of ratification before the first review meeting of the parties to the

Convention in April 1999.

H i s t o r i c a l c h a n g e s i n t h e I A E A ’ s a p p r o a c h t o n u c l e a r s a f e t y

We have noted that:

— The Statute’s approaches to safeguards and to nuclear safety standards were very similar in that:

• Both were to apply to the Agency’s own operations,



• Both were to apply to any “materials, services, equipment, facilities, and information made available by the Agency or at its request or under its control or supervision” and, if so requested, “to any bilateral or multilateral arrangement” or to any of a “...State’s activities in the field of atomic energy”.


• Both were to be propagated by ‘Agency projects’ which would require the beneficiary State to undertake to accept safeguards which included “observance of health and safety measures prescribed by the Agency.”


• Compliance with both was to be verified by IAEA inspectors.


— As noted in Chapter 4, it was expected that the IAEA would become the source to which States would normally turn for nuclear supplies.

Agency projects, prescribing the application of mandatory IAEA health and safety standards and monitored by IAEA health and safety inspectors would thus become the norm for international transactions relating to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.


Had this happened the IAEA’s safety standards would have become legally binding in much of the industrial as well as the developing world.

— It was therefore natural for the Prepcom to suggest in 1957 that “where possible, it would be convenient in practice to associate inspection under the safeguards functions, with inspections under the health and safety functions of the Agency.”


— In 1961, the Board decided to separate entirely the use of inspections to verify compliance with safeguards from those designed to verify compliance with safety standards.

— In 1976, the Board dropped the concept of health and safety inspections.

It defined the Agency’s “principal objective” to be that of providing

“practical guidance and effective assistance.” A State could “be allowed considerable latitude in applying its own system of safety standards and measures after the Agency has established that the system is adequate,” and “the Agency may, in agreement with the State, send safety missions for the purpose of providing advice and assistance...”


By 1995, the role of the IAEA was a far cry from that of the early 1960s, when the main IAEA activity was to study, compare and find common ground

— or seek compromises — between the national regulations and the leading nuclear nations, and on that basis to draft international recommendations. This


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 7 useful but somewhat passive approach came in for criticism that the IAEA was not doing enough to ensure that its recommendations were being adopted and applied by nuclear authorities in developing countries.

After Three Mile Island, and particularly after Chernobyl, the IAEA became proactive in nuclear safety, in launching binding international conventions and in providing a very broad range of services and assistance to help Member States maintain and enhance the safety of their nuclear activities. The IAEA was also actively engaged in helping States to establish and maintain an effective legal framework of nuclear safety, in helping them to improve nuclear safety at individual power and research reactors and in assessing the shortcomings — from the point of view of safety — of particular designs of nuclear plants.

Although, as Tadeusz Wojcik has pointed out in his essay in Personal

Reflections, the group drafting the ‘Convention on Nuclear Safety’ declined to incorporate and make mandatory the standards of NUSS, the Convention does mark a step away from the prevalent concept of the 1960s and 1970s that international activities relating to nuclear safety must be purely advisory.

W a s t e m a n a g e m e n t a n d d i s p o s a l :

A g r o w i n g I A E A a c t i v i t y

1 1 8

The management and disposal of nuclear and other radioactive wastes have become a pressing international concern and the subject of a major programme of the IAEA. The sources and causes of such waste illustrate the extent of the work to be undertaken. Nuclear waste is generated by:

— The nuclear fuel cycle (mining and milling of ore, conversion into yellow cake and uranium oxide, enrichment, fuel fabrication, operation of reactors, spent fuel storage, spent fuel reprocessing, disposal of waste and decommissioning of plants);

— The use of radiation and radioisotopes in medicine, industry and various branches of research;

— Production and testing of nuclear weapons;

— Accidents involving nuclear materials.

One of the main reasons why the use of nuclear power has caused widespread public concern is the fear that the nuclear waste it generates will


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A eventually enter the human food chain or contaminate humanity in some other way. In 1982, the IAEA published a collection of excerpts from technical reports that authoritative national and international organizations had issued from 1975 to 1981. The reports were written by organizations that were nationally or internationally concerned with public health, science and the environment as well as those that might be regarded as being committed to nuclear energy.


All pointed to a similar conclusion — the means are available and have already been tested for solving the safety problems of disposing of radioactive waste from civilian nuclear activities. Public fears, inflated out of proportion by reports in the media, are a political and psychological problem to be solved by politicians and their advisors.

The IAEA cannot directly counter the public’s concerns, but it has the authority to develop standards for the safe management and disposal of radioactive waste and it is able to help individual countries to deal with some of their waste management problems.

When the Agency began operating in 1958, nuclear waste still seemed in most countries a relatively distant problem. Low level waste from Western

Europe was dumped in the depths of the Atlantic. The nuclear weapon States dealt, more or less in secret, with the waste that arose from their nuclear military industries. As noted elsewhere, in the 1960s and 1970s France and the United

Kingdom used gas graphite reactors to produce their nuclear power. The spent fuel from these reactors was reprocessed in those countries (reprocessing was deemed necessary to avoid corrosion and leakage of radioactive materials). The high level waste produced by the reprocessing plants was stored at those plants. In the 1970s, France began building light water reactors.

The spent fuel from these reactors was subsequently reprocessed at the La

Hague plant which came into operation in 1976 and the resulting high level waste was stored in special facilities.


In the late 1970s, under pressure from the Carter Administration, the US nuclear industry abandoned plans for reprocessing the spent fuel from its light water reactors. For many years their spent fuel has been stored at the reactors themselves or at special away-from-reactor storage facilities, pending a political solution to the controversial problem of finding permanent waste disposal sites.

The IAEA had little if any direct involvement in these waste management operations of the major industrial countries. Storage of spent fuel, reprocessing, waste management and disposal were undertaken or supervised by national authorities and ocean dumping was organized by the NEA


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 7 until the practice was tacitly abandoned in 1982. Most of the IAEA’s own work consisted of promoting research such as studying the effects of radioactivity in the sea, the exchange of information and helping countries — particularly but not only in the developing world — to deal with their nuclear waste problems. Marine studies were chiefly the work of the IAEA’s Marine

Environment Laboratory at Monaco (see Chapter 9), while at IAEA

Headquarters radioactive waste management and disposal were for many years dealt with by the Divisions of Human Health and of Nuclear Safety. The ultimate aim of much of this work was to secure international consensus on the management of radioactive waste and to embody such consensus in recommended standards and codes of practice and eventually in legally binding instruments (conventions).

In the early days a technical problem that the IAEA faced in drawing up generally applicable standards for managing radioactive wastes was that the issues to be solved differed greatly from site to site, and often from country to country, depending on local geology, climate, population density, industrial infrastructure and communications, as well as national attitudes. A nation with large areas at its disposal, relatively empty of human occupation and having geological structures and other features that lent themselves to underground disposal (such as salt domes or extensive granite formations), obviously had an easier task than a small, highly populated nation whose geology was unsuitable. As a result, the process of setting internationally acceptable and uniform standards in this field has been more difficult and slower that that of setting standards for the safety of nuclear plants.

The Agency’s numerous international conferences, symposia and seminars on waste management and related topics began in November 1959 with a landmark conference in Monaco on the ‘Disposal of Radioactive Waste’. The conference, which was co-sponsored by UNESCO, helped to open the way to the establishment of the IAEA’s laboratory in Monaco. The proceedings of the conference were the subject of the first IAEA publication on waste management and disposal (Safety Series No. 5). The next significant international meeting was a symposium in Vienna in October 1962 on the ‘Treatment and

Storage of High Level Radioactive Wastes’.

During the remainder of the 1960s and in the subsequent decades, the

IAEA convened conferences, symposia and seminars almost every year, covering virtually all aspects of the management of waste from civilian nuclear and radiological activities. In 1975, the IAEA held three symposia on environmental problems — on the combined effect of radioactive and non-radioactive


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A releases, on the effects of releases from nuclear plants into seas, rivers and the other aquatic systems, and on the effects of the releases of plutonium and other transuranic elements into the environment. This pattern continued during the remainder of the 1970s and early 1980s.

In 1983, the IAEA convened in Seattle the first Agency conference to cover the entire range of issues arising in waste management: technological, environmental, regulatory, institutional, legal, economic and social as well as policy issues. The conference attracted wide interest and attracted over

500 participants. In the same year the IAEA convened a technical committee on decontamination technology.

T h e I A E A ’ s r o l e u n d e r t h e s e a d u m p i n g c o n v e n t i o n

As already noted, in 1972 a conference in London adopted the

‘Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter’ and the Convention referred to the IAEA as the competent body to define high level wastes that should not be dumped at sea. In 1975, the Board of Governors approved the definition of such wastes proposed by the Secretariat; the definition was revised in 1978 and again in 1986. In 1983, the parties agreed to a moratorium on all forms of sea dumping of radioactive wastes and in 1993 such dumping was formally prohibited. The ban entered into force in 1994.


W A M A P, I N W A C a n d R A D W A S S

In 1987, the IAEA established the Waste Management Advisory

Programme (WAMAP) to help developing countries to set up their own systems for dealing with nuclear waste, and began sending out WAMAP missions.


In 1989, the IAEA set up an 18-nation expert committee (the International

Radioactive Waste Advisory Committee, or INWAC) to advise it about its own programme and to oversee the preparation of internationally agreed basic standards for waste management (Radioactive Waste Safety Standards, or RADWASS). RADWASS was designed to cover the planning of waste management operations, preliminary disposal of waste, near surface disposal, geological (deep) disposal, treatment of waste from mining and milling and decommissioning of waste treatment plants.


In 1990, the Board approved the preparation of a series of RADWASS standards and the publication of a safety standard on Safety Principles and Technical Criteria for Underground Disposal


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 7

of High Level Radioactive Waste. This document embodied the first international consensus on underground disposal. In September 1990, the General

Conference adopted the Code of Practice on the International Transboundary

Movement of Radioactive Waste and asked the Director General to monitor its application.

In 1994, the IAEA began a review of all its technical documents relating to waste management and disposal and prepared two basic documents, one a

Safety Fundamentals on internationally approved principles of radioactive waste disposal and the second a Safety Standard on establishing a national programme for nuclear waste management.


Both documents were published in



In 1994, the IAEA began to help Member States systematically improve their waste management programmes. For this purpose the IAEA set out criteria in a document entitled Minimum Acceptable Waste Infrastructure to be used by developing States to evaluate such programmes.



In 1989, building on the experience gained in earlier advisory programmes, the IAEA launched a service for the ‘peer review’ of national waste management projects — the Waste Management Assessment and Technical

Review Programme, or WATRP. The WATRP teams consisted of four or five waste management experts from different Member States who reviewed all relevant information and reported their findings to the State. Before the formal establishment of WATRP in 1989 the first (four) reviews had been carried out in Sweden from 1978 to 1987 and one in the United Kingdom in 1988 and they provided useful guidance for the formal launching of the service. The review in Sweden focused on research being done in that country on the handling and disposal of high level waste and spent fuel. The review in the United

Kingdom focused on the NIREX programme for a deep level repository and specifically on safety and site assessment.

Since then WATRP missions have carried out reviews in the Republic of

Korea in 1991 (criteria for a low and intermediate level disposal site), Finland in 1992 (overall nuclear waste management programme), the Czech Republic in 1993 (deep geological disposal), Slovakia in 1993 (a near surface disposal facility at the Mochovce power reactor), and Norway in 1994 (a combined storage and disposal facility for low and intermediate level waste).


In 1996, the Agency arranged the review of a programme for the management of short lived waste at the Centre de l’Aube in France.




In a related activity, at the request of the Nordic Council of Ministers and with the co-operation of Russia, the Agency held a seminar in May 1995 on nuclear waste management in the Russian Federation. The States concerned established a forum known as a Contact Expert Group under the auspices of the IAEA to promote co-operation in waste management.


O t h e r f i e l d a c t i v i t i e s

In the 1980s, the IAEA began to help Member States to clean up sites that had been contaminated by radioactivity, for instance by extensive mining operations. It also began assisting Member States in the safe decommissioning of nuclear reactors, and more recently in setting up centralized storage facilities for radium sources taken out of use (radium has almost entirely been replaced as a source of radiation in cancer therapy by the less dangerous caesium-137).

I n t e r n a t i o n a l c o n v e n t i o n o n t h e s a f e t y o f r a d i o a c t i v e w a s t e m a n a g e m e n t

As previously noted, in 1994 the General Conference asked the Board and the Director General to begin preparing an international convention on safe nuclear waste management.


It was expected that the two basic documents already mentioned (the Safety Fundamentals and the Safety Standard) would provide source material for the convention.


The groups of experts appointed to prepare the convention completed their task in April 1997 and on 28 April the Director General submitted a report to the Board enclosing the draft text of a ‘Joint Convention on the

Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste

Management’. The Director General recommended that a diplomatic conference be convened on 1 September 1997 to adopt the convention and that it be opened for signature at the 29 September to 3 October 1997 (41st) session of the General Conference.

Te c h n i c a l c o - o p e r a t i o n

Since the late 1950s and early 1960s, the IAEA has provided substantial technical assistance to help its Member States establish the governmental institutions needed to deal with their waste management problems, enact and apply adequate safety standards and train the required personnel.


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 7

For instance, between 1991 and 1995 the IAEA held more than 20 training courses on various aspects of waste management.


The most recent interregional courses were on the methodology for the safety assessment of facilities for the near surface disposal of waste (USA, 1994) and on the management of radioactive waste from nuclear power plants (France, 1996). Between

1994 and 1996, regional courses were held in Africa (Egypt, 1994 and 1996, and South Africa, 1995), Latin America (Argentina, 1994, and Chile, 1996),

South East Asia (Philippines, 1994) and Europe (Spain, 1995, Finland and the

United Kingdom, 1996).

In recent years, there has been a substantial increase in the scope of the

IAEA’s technical co-operation projects relating to waste management in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. For example, there is a design defect in many of the 45 operating light water (WWER-440) nuclear power plants of Soviet design — in addition to the design defects already mentioned in the section dealing with nuclear safety — that causes them to generate more nuclear waste than other comparable plants. Some of the 45 are nearing the end of their foreseen working life (five have already been decommissioned). In 1995, the IAEA completed a four year technical co-operation project on minimizing waste from these plants, and began another four year study of the decommissioning of WWER-440s.


C o - o p e r a t i o n b e t w e e n S t a t e s i n s e t t i n g u p w a s t e d i s p o s a l s i t e s

To enhance safety, reduce costs and discourage nuclear proliferation it would be preferable to minimize the number of locations of high level nuclear waste and unreprocessed spent fuel. One obvious way of doing this would be to establish regional or multinational storage facilities. However, very few, if any, countries are prepared today to accept permanently another country’s nuclear waste or spent fuel. There have been some exceptions; the Soviet

Union required that spent fuel from any reactor that it had supplied be returned to it in order to ensure that the customer country did not extract the plutonium from the spent fuel and use it to make nuclear weapons. For similar reasons, this appears to have been US policy in regard to spent fuel originating from high enriched fuel of US origin.

In the late 1970s, the IAEA was invited by the governments concerned to arrange for the disposal in Egypt of high level waste that would originate in the

Zwentendorf nuclear power plant then under construction in Austria and that


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A no province in Austria would accept. The attempt had to be hastily abandoned when the Egyptian media heard about it and raised a public outcry. This experience shattered any illusion that poorer countries might be more willing to serve as depositories for nuclear waste if they were adequately paid for their services.

A special problem is faced by countries that use nuclear techniques only in research, medicine, agriculture and industry and lack adequate facilities for managing the resulting low and intermediate level waste. In 1994, the

Agency began to look into the feasibility of a regional arrangement for dealing with spent radium sources in Africa.


If such a project could be launched it would set a useful precedent and hopefully open the way to other arrangements for regional co-operation.

T h e l e g a c y o f n u c l e a r w e a p o n p r o g r a m m e s

Chiefly as a result of the nuclear arms race — and the end of the Cold

War — it has been disclosed that the world’s most serious nuclear waste problems are in the former Soviet Union and the USA. They arise largely from the practices that the two nations followed and the risks they took in forging ahead with their nuclear weapon programmes. In the Soviet Union, for instance, nuclear waste was discharged into rivers and oceans and directly into the ground, the navy scuttled obsolete nuclear warships or dumped unwanted nuclear reactors in the Kara Sea and Western Pacific, large areas were polluted by the mining and milling of uranium, nuclear explosive devices used in engineering projects left behind contaminated soil and water, and liquid waste from marine reactors was stored in rusting and overfilled tanks or dumps.


The problems of the USA appear to be concentrated chiefly in the plants used for producing fissile material and manufacturing nuclear weapons, associated waste storage sites and the local and regional environment. The costs of cleaning up the US sites and disposing of their nuclear wastes have been estimated at as much as $189 to $265 billion over

70 years, and probably more.


In 1993–1995, at the request of the Government of Kazakstan, the IAEA surveyed the extent of radioactive contamination of 19 000 square kilometres of land at Semipalatinsk where the USSR tested nuclear weapons for 40 years from 1949 until 1989, including atmospheric and surface tests until 1962. Five of the warheads misfired and instead of exploding, scattered plutonium around the test site. The preliminary conclusions of the survey were that the


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 7 dose to local populations in adjoining settlements was, nonetheless, very low and that there was no need for concern, but that sites with high dose rates should not be reoccupied.


From 1993 to 1996, the IAEA carried out a comprehensive study of the impact of extensive dumping of radioactive waste in the Arctic, the ‘International Arctic Seas Assessment Project’. The main conclusions of the study were that “the current radiological risks presented by the dumped wastes are negligible, and that the future risks to population groups most likely to be exposed are also small. No justification was found on radiological grounds for instituting a programme of remedial action.” However, a reassessment of the situation was recommended if current military restrictions over the fjords of Novaya Zemlya, where much of the waste was dumped, are removed.


In 1994 and 1995 the IAEA also participated in the Japan–Republic of

Korea–Russian Federation expeditions to dump sites in the Far Eastern seas.


The final report of the study is to be issued in 1997.

In 1995, France asked the IAEA to assess the radiological effects of nuclear weapon tests France had carried out on the atolls of Mururoa and

Fangataufa in the South Pacific.


In mid-1996, the IAEA arranged, as a first step, for the monitoring of the marine and terrestrial environments, in other words the seas and sea-bed around the atolls and the atolls themselves.

This brief description illustrates the extent to which the IAEA’s activities in radioactive waste management have grown from their very modest beginnings in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The importance and scope of this work is likely to increase as more waste is generated by nuclear power plants throughout the world, more installations are decommissioned and if the

IAEA continues to be called upon to assist in dealing with the legacy of discontinued military programmes.

S u m m i n g u p

The overwhelming weight of independent professional opinion is that we have the technical means to isolate radioactive wastes for as long as may be necessary to ensure that they have no harmful impact on humans or their environment. This conclusion is based on nearly 50 years of dealing with radioactive wastes, on decades of careful analysis and scientific discussion, as well as on the great amount of work done by national and international organizations, including the IAEA. Several of the organizations that share this


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A conclusion have no institutional interest in promoting the use of nuclear energy.

Nonetheless, such is the general and deep seated fear of radiation that the man or woman in the street remains unconvinced and apprehensive. One result is that in most countries having civilian or military nuclear activities it has not yet been possible to reach agreement on disposal sites, let alone on a regional site that would serve a group of countries.

From a narrow technical point of view the absence of final decisions on underground disposal sites has certain advantages. Most of the radioactive isotopes in waste decay very rapidly and there are arguments in favour of keeping the waste in surface storage as long as possible. However, storage sites at reactors are steadily filling up and finding away-from-reactor sites is not always easy. Sooner or later the nettle must be grasped — permanent solutions must be found not only for waste originating in civilian activities but for the more formidable problem of disposing of the wastes left behind by more than five decades of producing nuclear weapons.

T h e p h y s i c a l p r o t e c t i o n o f n u c l e a r m a t e r i a l

From the start of what used to be called the atomic age, nuclear scientists and nuclear establishments have been aware of the danger that nuclear material might fall into the wrong hands and be used by criminals as a threat to inspire terror, or even as a weapon (although for a variety of reasons the latter is highly unlikely). However, governments at first tended to take the view that this was a problem of criminal justice to be dealt with by national authorities responsible for internal security, and not by international agreement. The issue did not arise during the eight- and twelve-nation negotiations in Washington in 1955–1956 and it was not addressed while drafting the

Statute, or by the Statute Conference, or the Prepcom.

As the IAEA’s safeguards programme expanded in the late 1960s, the

Secretariat began to ask what role the IAEA might usefully play in this context.

When the Safeguards Committee (1970) agreed on the contents of the standard

NPT safeguards agreement it prescribed that each non-nuclear-weapon State should “establish and maintain a system of accounting for and control of all nuclear material subject to safeguards under the Agreement.”


While responsibility for establishing the State’s system of accounting and control lay with the governments concerned, it seemed appropriate for the IAEA to give


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 7 guidance on the minimum requirements to be met for the physical control of nuclear materials. The first reaction of some Western European delegations to the Secretariat’s soundings was negative; this was not a matter for the IAEA, but in 1972 the Director General was able to issue a set of internationally agreed recommendations.


The IAEA’s original recommendations were revised in 1977, more extensively in 1989 and again in 1993.


The standard NPT safeguards agreement does not refer directly to physical protection, but in negotiations with a number of States not party to the

NPT during the 1970s the Secretariat was able to include a requirement that the State concerned should, at a minimum, apply the IAEA’s recommendations in its own nuclear activities. The Nuclear Suppliers’ Group Guidelines published in 1978 also recommended that the supplier States should require their customers to apply, at a minimum, the recommendations of the IAEA.

In 1974, the Secretariat began studying the need for a binding international convention on physical protection. The concept attracted broad support at the first NPT review conference in 1975. In 1977, an Advisory Group set up by the

Director General concluded that there was a need for a convention and that it should cover the protection of nuclear material during international transport.

In the same year (1977) the USA provided the IAEA with a draft text of such a convention and in 1978 and 1979 meetings of governmental representatives and subsequently of a drafting committee completed work on the draft. One of the two main problems that arose during the discussion of the draft was whether the convention should cover nuclear material during international transport only or whether it should also relate to the domestic use of nuclear material. It was agreed that the most urgent need was to ensure that nuclear material was adequately protected when it was being transported across national frontiers, but that the provisions of the convention requiring the parties to co-operate in protecting and recovering material, and in extraditing and punishing offenders, should also apply to material in domestic use, storage and transport. The other main problem related to the participation of EURATOM and allocation of responsibilities between EURATOM and its member states.


Accordingly, the ‘Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear

Material’ is explicitly designed to protect such material against criminal acts while it is in international transport, but it also requires its parties to make such acts punishable under national law, whether they involve nuclear material in international transport or in domestic use, storage or transport.


The Convention was opened for signature on 3 March 1980. However, almost seven years elapsed before it acquired the 21 ratifications needed to


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A bring it into force — on 8 February 1987. By 28 February 1997, 57 States had brought the Convention into force.


They included all members of the

European Union and other European States, the USA, the Russian Federation,

Japan, China and most other producers and suppliers of nuclear material.

The parties met in September 1992 to review the implementation of the

Convention and its adequacy. Since the breakup of the Soviet Union there had been growing concern about the smuggling of nuclear and other radioactive materials out of its successor States. At the review conference the parties affirmed their full support for the Convention as it stood, noting that it continued to provide a sound basis for protecting nuclear material in international transport as well as an appropriate framework for States to co-operate in such protection, in recovering and securing the return of stolen nuclear material and in penalizing persons who commit criminal acts involving nuclear material.


L i a b i l i t y f o r n u c l e a r a c c i d e n t s

In the late 1950s and 1960s, the OECD’s ENEA sponsored a ‘Convention on Third Party Liability in the Field of Nuclear Energy’ which was opened for signature in Paris on 29 July 1960. The Convention was designed to regulate and harmonize the laws in force in ENEA member countries concerning third party liability and insurance against atomic risks, for instance who should be held liable in the event of a nuclear accident and what should be the limits to his or her liability. The Convention embodied the principle that the operator should bear sole responsibility for the financial consequences of a nuclear accident, thus averting complex litigation if an accident should occur.

At about the same time that the ENEA began work on its Convention, and following ENEA’s example, the IAEA promoted the conclusion of a fundamentally similar international convention for the IAEA’s Member States, but it took a good deal longer to reach agreement in Vienna than in Paris. The IAEA convention also embodied the concept of absolute operator liability. ENEA’s convention was open to members of the OECD, the IAEA’s was open to all members of the Agency, the United Nations and the UN specialized agencies, including those States that were also members of ENEA. Both conventions dealt only with land based civilian plants, including related transport of nuclear substances. In April–May 1963, an international conference approved the

‘Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage’, and it was opened for signature on 21 May 1963.



P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 7

This was an instance of quite unnecessary duplication between the

IAEA and ENEA, partly due to Sterling Cole’s annoyance with the ENEA for having taken the lead in a matter in which he had a special interest, but ENEA must also take responsibility for sponsoring a Convention that was originally open only to Western European nations. There were several differences of detail and some of substance between the two Conventions and for many years legal officers from both agencies would meet in Paris or Vienna to seek uniformity in interpretation. This was an exercise of little practical value since, for a number of years, none of the States having a significant nuclear power programme had acceded to the Vienna Convention.

Despite the similarities between the Paris and Vienna Conventions, until recently they operated in isolation from each other. In 1988, a diplomatic conference convened by the IAEA and the NEA adopted a Joint Protocol which combined the two Conventions into one extended liability regime.

In the early 1960s, the International Maritime Committee and the IAEA elaborated a ‘Convention on the Liability of Operators of Nuclear Ships’, which was adopted at the 11th session of the ‘Diplomatic Conference on Maritime Law’ sponsored by the Belgian Government with the assistance of the Agency. The

Convention was opened for signature on 25 May 1962. In November–December

1971, the IAEA together with the NEA and the Intergovernmental Maritime

Consultative Organization (IMCO, now the International Maritime Organization) convened a conference to draw up a similar convention on civil liability in relation to the maritime carriage of nuclear material. The convention embodied the same principle as the earlier conventions, namely that the plant operator should bear sole responsibility for the consequences of an accident, thus making carriers less reluctant to accept nuclear material.




Now reclassified as ‘Fundamentals’, ‘Requirements’, ‘Guides’ and ‘Safety Reports’.

The IAEA also:

— Provided nuclear safety training.

— Carried out nuclear safety reviews.

— Designed tests of the safety of packages, casks and containers transporting nuclear material. It subsequently developed internationally accepted standardized casks, e.g. for transporting irradiated fuel.



— Sought to ensure accurate measurements of doses administered to patients receiving radiation therapy.

— Sponsored regional and international co-operation and agreements on emergency assistance.

— Set up a health and safety and waste management advisory service (with ILO and FAO) and helped Member States to set up their own protection and monitoring services.

— Set up another advisory service to review the safety of proposed movements of irradiated fuel.

— Helped Member States measure radioactive contamination of the atmosphere.









IAEA Statute, Articles XII.A.2, XII.A.5 and XII.C.

Document INFCIRC/18, p. 7, para. 31.

SZASZ, P.C., The Law and Practices of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Legal

Series No. 7, IAEA, Vienna (1970) 695.

RAINER, R. H., SZASZ, P.C., The Law and Practices of the International Atomic Energy

Agency: 1970–1980, Supplement 1 to the 1970 Edition of Legal Series No. 7, Legal Series

No. 7-S1, IAEA, Vienna (1993) 411.

To prepare a manual or set of safety recommendations or standards, the Secretariat would usually write the first draft, possibly with the help of consultants. It would then circulate the draft to authorities or experts in Member States for their comments, convene a panel of experts to review the draft and the comments made by national authorities, and prepare a final draft, which might again be circulated for final comments or issued as an IAEA recommendation. The most important recommendations might require formal approval by the Board.

Document INFCIRC/18. These measures were revised in 1976 and issued as document INFCIRC/18/Rev. 1. See also document GC(40)INF/5, Attachment, Part B.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1960–30 June

1961, GC(V)/154, IAEA, Vienna (1961), p. 25, paras 167–168. The Transport

Regulations have been comprehensively revised five times, in 1964, 1967, 1973,

1985 and 1995 (see GC(40)INF/5, Attachment, Part B, p. 1).

Amongst those who did so were the UN authorities responsible for preparing international regulations on the transport of dangerous goods, the European

Agreements on the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road and by

Inland Waterways, the International Convention on Transport of Goods by Rail, and the International Air Transport Association (Annual Report of the Board of

Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1961–30 June 1962, GC(VI)/195, IAEA,

Vienna (1962), p. 14, para. 87; Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 7

















Conference 1 July 1964–30 June 1965, GC(IX)/299, IAEA, Vienna (1965), p. 37, para. 158).

Basic Safety Standards for Radiation Protection 1982 Edition, Safety Series No. 9,

IAEA, Vienna (1982).

Annual Report for 1982, GC(XXVII)/684, IAEA, Vienna (1983), p. 40, para. 158.

The revision was sponsored by the IAEA jointly with several other UN and regional agencies (FAO, ILO, OECD/NEA, PAHO, WHO) — see GC(40)/INF/5, Attachment, Part B, pp. 1–2.

COLE, S., “The work of the International Atomic Energy Agency”, Nuclear Power 5

45 (1960) 78.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference Covering the Period

from 1 July 1958 to 30 June 1959, GC(III)/73, IAEA, Vienna (1959), p. 44, para. 206.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1959–30 June

1960, GC(IV)/114, IAEA, Vienna (1960), p. 5, para. 15(e).

The agreement was published as document INFCIRC/27.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1963–30 June

1964, GC(VIII)/270, IAEA, Vienna (1964), p. 26, para. 125.

FISCHER, D.A.V., Stopping the Spread of Nuclear Weapons: The Past and the Prospects,

Routledge, London (1992) 262. In 1979, a dam break at Morvi in India reportedly killed some 12 000 people.

Annual Report 1 July 1970–30 June 1971, GC(XV)/455, IAEA, Vienna (1971), p. 8, para. 13. In this context the IAEA and WHO began studying the feasibility of a register of significant disposals of radioactive waste into the environment.

However, it was not until 1991 that the IAEA began to publish inventories of disposals of solid radioactive wastes into the marine and terrestrial environments.

Annual Report 1 July 1970–30 June 1971, p. 40, para. 102(a).

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1961–30 June

1962, p. 15, para. 91; and Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General

Conference 1 July 1962–30 June 1963, GC(VII)/228, IAEA, Vienna (1963), p. 13, para. 97.

See the statement by the Governor for Denmark, GOV/OR.649, para. 100.

Annual Report 1 July 1972– 30 June 1973, GC(XVII)/500, IAEA, Vienna (1973), p. 2, paras 9–11. A conference in London in November 1972 drew up a ‘Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter’. This designated the IAEA as the competent international body for defining the high level nuclear waste that must not be dumped at sea.

Annual Report for 1979, GC(XXIV)/627, IAEA, Vienna (1980), p. 22, para. 78.

This summary of the evolution of NUSS is based on Tadeusz Wojcik’s article in

Personal Reflections.

















Annual Report for 1979, p. 3, paras 2–3. The cause of the accident was a faulty valve and a series of misunderstandings by the plant operators.

The main findings of the experts are given in Annex III to document GOV/1948 of

20 June 1979.

The texts of the letters from these States are reproduced in document

INFCIRC/270 of June 1979.

Annual Report for 1979, p. 22, paras 75–78. The experts also recommended that the

IAEA should: hold and take part in specialized meetings on the consequences of the accident; expand the NUSS programme; expand technical assistance in nuclear safety; increase its own ability to provide emergency help; and that Member States should: promote a freer and fuller exchange of the results of safety research; permit the sale/purchase of a nuclear power plant only if an accident emergency plan existed; periodically test their own emergency plans; invite the IAEA to review their safety activities and follow up the Agency’s recommendations.

The USA expressed strong reservations about the need for “ agreements on nuclear safety” because of its belief that nuclear safety and regulatory matters were primarily national responsibilities (GOV/OR.532).

WOJCIK, T., in Personal Reflections.

Annual Report for 1980, GC(XXV)/642, IAEA, Vienna (1981), p. 4, para. 6.

Document GOV/OR.539, para. 11.

INPO subsequently served as the model for the World Association of Nuclear

Operators with its headquarters in London.

Annual Report for 1984, GC(XXIX)/748, IAEA, Vienna (1985), p. 36, para. 166.

In other words, 24 of the 25 Member States that were operating nuclear power reactors had joined the IRS.

Information provided by the IAEA, Division of Nuclear Installation Safety,

Department of Nuclear Safety.

Annual Report for 1982, p. 9, para. 18.

The official titles of these projects or the reports on them are:

Summary Report on the Post-Accident Review Meeting on the Chernobyl Accident,

Safety Series No. 75-INSAG-1, IAEA, Vienna (1986).

The Chernobyl Accident: Updating of INSAG-1, Safety Series No. 75-INSAG-7,

IAEA, Vienna (1992).

The International Chernobyl Project: An Overview, Report by an International

Advisory Committee, IAEA, Vienna (1991).

One Decade After Chernobyl: Summing up the Consequences of the Accident (Proc.

EC/IAEA/WHO Int. Conf. Vienna, 1996), IAEA, Vienna (1996).


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 7



























“In 1986...the Soviet view presented at the Vienna meeting...laid blame almost entirely on the actions of the operating staff” (The Chernobyl Accident, Safety Series

No. 75-INSAG-7, p. 24, para. 6).

Ibid., p. 23, para. 3.

However, for about 11 hours during this period the reactor was retained at 51% of its power output so as to provide electric power requested by the regional grid — in other words, the experiment was effectively suspended for 11 hours.

The Chernobyl Accident, Safety Series No. 75-INSAG-7, p. 23, para. 4.

Ibid., p. 24, para. 6.

No steps had, however, been taken to correct these faults and information about them had not been disseminated, ibid., p. 23, para. 4.

Ibid., p. 23–24, para. 5.

One Decade After Chernobyl. The Conference was jointly sponsored by the European

Commission, the IAEA and WHO and was held in co-operation with the UN,

UNESCO, UNEP, UNSCEAR, FAO and NEA. The President of the Conference was

Angela Merkel, German Minister for the Environment.

The quotations are taken from One Decade After Chernobyl, Summary of the

Conference Results.

Ibid., p. 4, para. 4.

Ibid., p. 12, paras 39–42.

Ibid., p. 13, para. 44.

Ibid., p. 6, para. 12.

Ibid., pp. 7–8, paras 15–22.

Ibid., p. 10, para. 29; and p. 17, para. 66.

Ibid., p. 9, para. 26.

Ibid., p. 16, para. 62.

Ibid., p. 16, para. 60.

Ibid., p. 17, para. 67.

Ibid., p. 6, para. 11.

Ibid., p. 11, para. 33.

Ibid., p. 12, para. 37.

Ibid., pp. 13–14, paras 48 and 50.

Ibid., pp. 14–15, para. 54.

GRUSHA, N., “Belarus pinpoints potential N-plant sites”, NucNet, No. 38 (23 January


“Kazakhstan: Government to consider nuclear power development programme”,

Interfax News Agency (19:59 GMT, 22 January 1997), BBC Monitoring Summary of

World Broadcasts, 31 January 1997.

















Opening address by Hans Blix, One Decade After Chernobyl, p. 22.

Summary Report on the Post-Accident Review Meeting on the Chernobyl Accident,

Safety Series No. 75-INSAG- 1.

In the town of Goiânia, a series of events brought the remnants of the source of a caesium-137 teletherapy unit (for treating cancer) into the hands of a junk dealer.

He noticed that the source material, which was in the form of a highly soluble salt, caesium chloride, glowed blue in the dark and he distributed fragments of the source to the families of fascinated friends and relations. They were thus exposed to heavy, and in four cases lethal, doses of radiation and there was also widespread contamination of the environment. The authorities considered it necessary to monitor 112 000 persons, of whom 249 were found to be contaminated internally or externally. The IAEA and several countries provided emergency aid to Brazil.

These and other actions that the IAEA took in 1986 immediately after the

Chernobyl accident are described in the Annual Report for 1986, GC(XXXI)/800,

IAEA, Vienna (1987), p. 9, paras 6–15.

RICHARDS, J.I., et al., “The FAO response”, in One Decade After Chernobyl, pp. 132 and 141.

INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY, Intervention Criteria in a Nuclear

or Radiation Emergency, Safety Series No. 109, IAEA, Vienna (1994).


WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION, “Guideline levels for radionuclides in foods following accidental nuclear contamination”, Codex Alimentarius, General Requirements,

Section 6.1, Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme, Rome (1989).

RICHARDS, J.I., et al., in One Decade After Chernobyl, pp. 133–141.

LEDERMAN, L., “Nuclear safety aspects: Special report on Chernobyl”, IAEA

Bulletin 38 3 (1996) 44–47.

Annual Report for 1989, GC(XXXIV)/915, IAEA, Vienna (1990) 4.

Most of the contents of this section are based on an informative document issued by the Director General to the General Conference on 4 September 1995, “Measures to

Strengthen International Co-operation in Nuclear Safety, Radiological Protection and Radioactive Waste Management”, GC(39)INF/8.

Annual Report for 1983, GC(XXVIII)/713, IAEA, Vienna (1984), p. 37, para. 160.

Lord Marshall also served for many years as a member of the IAEA’s Scientific

Advisory Committee, where he was much respected for his forthrightness, and was very popular for his sharp sense of humour.

Annual Report for 1986, p. 27, para. 180. The team tested the methodology of the

ASSET programme at the Krško nuclear power plant in Yugoslavia (Krško is now in Slovenia).


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 7













Annual Report for 1987, GC(XXXII)/835, IAEA, Vienna (1988), p. 40, para. 179.

The design defects of the WWER 440/230 reactor included: embrittlement of the reactor pressure vessel; limited capability for cooling the reactor core in an emergency; insufficient redundancy of safety features; deficient instruments and controls; insufficient protection against internal and external hazards; and lack of containment in the event of a severe accident. (HOLBERTSON, S., “But really how safe is safe?”, Financial Times (22 December 1996).) One problem found to be common to all

WWER plants was inadequate fire protection and inadequate capacity to fight fires

(Annual Report for 1995, GC(40)/8, IAEA, Vienna (1996) 42).

Document GC(XXXIV)/RES/529.

There had been particular concern in neighbouring countries about the safety of the WWER-440/230 plants at Bohunice and Kozloduy. Since a referendum in which Austrian voters decided by a very narrow majority — 51 to 49% — not to start up Austria’s only nuclear power plant (at Zwentendorf in Lower Austria), the

Austrian media and public had become more outspokenly opposed to nuclear power than almost any other country in Europe and on one occasion the Austrian

Minister for the Environment proposed (apparently without consulting her

Government) that the IAEA should leave Austria unless all reference to the promotion of nuclear energy was deleted from its Statute. Concern about nuclear safety has affected Austrian relations with the Czech Republic and Slovakia, which operate nuclear plants of Soviet design.

Annual Report for 1992, GC(XXXVII)/1060, IAEA, Vienna (1993) 117.

Annual Report for 1993, GC(XXXVIII)/2, IAEA, Vienna (1994) 136–137.

The assistance that the G-24 nations offer is channelled through their Nuclear

Safety Assistance Co-ordination Secretariat with which the IAEA co-ordinates its own relevant programmes.

As explained later, these documents are the primary texts for other publications in the IAEA’s Safety Series.

The Agency has since revised the five Codes and some of the Safety Guides.

Annual Report for 1995, pp. 41–42.

The international basis of the standards is “advice provided by the International

Nuclear Safety Advisory Group (INSAG)...estimates made by the United Nations

Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation...and the recommendations made by a number of international bodies — principally the International

Commission on Radiological Protection” (GC(40)INF/5, Attachment, Part B, p. 2, para. 7).

Annual Report for 1981, GC(XXVI)/664, IAEA, Vienna (1982), p. 42, para. 135;

Annual Report for 1982, p. 40, para. 158.























Annual Report for 1991, GC(XXXVI)/1004, IAEA, Vienna (1992) 85.

IAEA document IAEA-CN-67 (First Announcement of the Conference).

Speech by NRC Commissioner Greta Joy Dicus, Joint American–Russian Radiation

Health Effects Research, Joint Meeting of the American Nuclear Society,

Washington, DC Section and the Health Physics Society, Baltimore–Washington

Chapter, 16 January 1997.

IAEA Bulletin 39 1 (1997) 44.

Technical Co-operation Report for 1995, GC(40)/INF/3, IAEA, Vienna (1996), p. 25, para. 97.

The Agency’s Technical Co-operation Activities in 1992, GC(XXXVII)/INF/3, IAEA,

Vienna (1993), pp. 21–22, para. 85.

Technical Co-operation Report for 1995, p. 25, paras 98–102.

The Agency’s Technical Co-operation Activities in 1994, GC(39)/INF/3, IAEA, Vienna

(1995), p. 34, para. 115.

Technical Co-operation Report for 1995, p. 25, para. 99.

Ibid., p. 25–26, paras 100–102.

Ibid., p. 26, para. 103.

The Agency‘s Technical Co-operation Activities in 1994, p. 31, para. 105.

Technical Co-operation Report for 1995, Supplement, p. 144.

“International safety conference: Strategy for the future,” IAEA Yearbook 1992,

IAEA, Vienna (1992) D45.

Convention on Nuclear Safety, Legal Series No. 16, IAEA, Vienna (1994) 102.

Annual Report for 1991, p. 96.

Annual Report for 1992, p. 117; and Annual Report for 1993, p. 118.

Parties must establish a regulatory body which must be functionally separate from any body that is concerned with the promotion or utilization of nuclear energy.

Prime responsibility for safety must rest with the holder of the licence for a nuclear plant. Parties must ensure that adequate financial resources and qualified staff are available for each nuclear plant throughout its life and for carrying out all safety related activities. Parties must also ensure “that the capabilities and limitations of human performance” are taken into account and quality assurance programmes are established and implemented. Comprehensive safety assessments must be carried out before the construction and commissioning of a nuclear plant and throughout its life. Radiation exposures must be kept “as low as reasonably achievable” and never above the national dose limits. There must be routinely tested emergency plans for each plant.

Annual Report for 1994, GC(39)/3, IAEA, Vienna (1995) 47.

IAEA Statute, Articles III.A.5 and III.A.6.


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 7










IAEA Statute, Articles XI.F.4 and XII.A.2.

IAEA Statute, Article XII.A.6.

The Project Agreement to be concluded under Article XI of the Statute would include an undertaking by the State that “the project shall be subject to the safeguards provided for in Article XII”, which, as noted, includes health and safety measures.

Document GC(I)/1, p. 22, para. 85.

Document INFCIRC/18/Rev. 1, paras 2.2, 2.3 and 5.1. The Agency’s health and safety standards did remain obligatory for any ‘assisted operation’ or other operation to which the IAEA was requested to apply them, but no provisions were made for verifying compliance.

Until the end of 1995, nuclear power, nuclear fuel cycle and waste management, nuclear safety, and scientific and technical information were handled by four

Divisions in the same Department of Nuclear Energy and Safety. In a subsequent reorganization, responsibility for nuclear installation safety and radiation and waste safety was allotted to two Divisions in the new Department of Nuclear

Safety. The new organization, besides being more rational, underlines the increasing importance of nuclear safety.

“Radioactive waste storage and disposal”, excerpts from Major Technical Reports by

National and International Organizations, 1975–1981, document IAEA/PI/B.3E,

IAEA, Vienna (1982). The following are a few of the 24 excerpts: At the IAEA

‘International Symposium on the Underground Disposal of Nuclear Waste’, held in Helsinki in July 1979, the Canadian participants noted that “The key to the acceptance of the disposal concept by regulatory and licensing authorities and by the public is proof of the safety of the system... The general conclusion at this time is that the multiple barriers can provide sufficient protection for man and the environment.” INFCE recorded a similar conclusion in February 1980 and the

European Regional Office of WHO stated in 1981 that: “Methods for the management and interim storage of high-level radioactive wastes are operational and well proven.” Similar conclusions were reached by many other scientifically authoritative organizations, including the relevant committees and study groups of the US

Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the US National Academy of Sciences, the

American Physical Society and Judge B. Flowers (Chairman of the UK Royal

Commission on Environmental Pollution), as well as German, Swedish and

Danish technical bodies dealing with nuclear safety.

The United Kingdom’s first light water reactor and plant for the reprocessing of light water spent fuel came into operation in 1994.

Annual Report for 1993, p. 40.



























Annual Report for 1987, p. 10, para. 13.

Annual Report for 1989, p. 29.

Annual Report for 1994, p. 7.

Annual Report for 1995, p. 17.

Annual Report for 1994, p. 48.

Annual Report for 1993, p. 43; and Annual Report for 1995, p. 17.

Annual Report for 1996, GC(41)/8, IAEA, Vienna (1997) 15.

Annual Report for 1995, p. 4.

Annual Report for 1994, p. 47.

Annual Report for 1995, p. 17.

Annual Report for 1996, p. 13.

Annual Report for 1995, p. 16.

Annual Report for 1994, pp. 49–53.

Ibid., p. 7.

A British assessment comments that Murmansk “is the site of one of the world’s most unstable nuclear facilities. Lying in shallow waters nearby are about

100 decommissioned nuclear powered submarines and icebreakers with their burnt-up fuel and highly radioactive, obsolete reactors still intact. At sea, the

Soviets had dumped 20 reactors, seven of them still containing spent nuclear fuel.”

LAND, T., Russia: Arctic Nuclear Clean-up Action, Insurance/Investment, Lloyd’s

List 2/4/97.

RENNER, R., “U.S. nuclear cleanup shows signs of progress”, Environmental

Science and Technology/News 31 3 (1997) 135–137A.

Annual Report for 1995, p. 37.

Annual Report for 1996, p. 14. The quotation appears to be from the text of the report.

Ibid., pp. 14–15.

Ibid., p. 15.

Document INFCIRC/153, para. 7.

Document INFCIRC/225.

The 1989 revision reflected mainly “the international consensus established in respect of the Physical Protection Convention; the experience gained since 1977; and a wish to give equal treatment to protection against theft of nuclear materials and protection against sabotage of nuclear facilities” (preface to INFCIRC/225/

Rev. 2). The changes made in 1993 were chiefly of a technical character (preface to

INFCIRC/225/Rev. 3).

The evolution of the Convention is described in RAINER, R.H., SZASZ, P.C., The

Law and Practices of the International Atomic Energy Agency: 1970–1980, pp. 448-456.


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 7





The text of the Convention is reproduced in document INFCIRC/274/Rev. 1.

Document INFCIRC/274/Rev. 1/Add. 6.

Communication of 12 February 1997 to the author from John Rames, Deputy

Director of the IAEA Legal Division.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1962–30 June

1963, p. 13, para. 97.



C h a p t e r 8


S a f e g u a r d s i n W e s t e r n E u r o p e :

W h a t r o l e f o r t h e I A E A ?

Despite the importance that the negotiators of the Statute had assigned to the IAEA’s safeguards, the 1957 Initial Programme of the Preparatory

Commission (Prepcom) contained, as we have seen, only a rather perfunctory reference to this crucial aspect of the IAEA’s work.


The chief reason for the

Prepcom’s sparse treatment of the subject was the wide gap between the views of the West, the Soviet Union and several leading developing countries about the proper role, scope and coverage of IAEA safeguards. Hence the difficulty of forecasting with any degree of assurance what safeguards tasks the IAEA would have to undertake during its first years and what resources it would need. There was also relatively little discussion of safeguards at the first General Conference in October 1957 or during the first few meetings of the Board.

In the late 1950s, and indeed for many years afterwards, there were no serious proposals for applying IAEA safeguards in the three nuclear weapon

States of the time, or in Eastern Europe.


Hence, the main open question was what the scope of IAEA safeguards would be in Japan and the developing countries and, above all, in Western Europe, which was the only region outside North America and the Soviet Union in which plans were being laid for the large scale use of nuclear energy.

Sterling Cole was a vigorous supporter of IAEA safeguards. The first major issue he had to address was what role they would play in the six countries of the European Communities, as the European Union was then called.

Since the USA was the world’s leading country in all aspects of nuclear energy and the main political and economic support of Western Europe, it was bound to have a decisive influence in determining the answer to this question, and Cole would do his utmost to persuade Washington to support the

IAEA’s cause.

On 29 May and 12 June 1958, EURATOM and the USA initialled a memorandum of understanding and two agreements relating to their joint nuclear power programme.


The “Agreement for Cooperation”

4 set a target


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 8 for the construction by the end of 1963 of nuclear power plants having an aggregate capacity of 1000 MW(e). EURATOM undertook to establish and apply a safeguards and control system to ensure the exclusively peaceful use of nuclear material, equipment and devices transferred by the USA to the

European Commission States and of any nuclear material derived from the use of transferred items.

Article XII of the “Agreement for Cooperation” made two references to IAEA safeguards. The first provided that “ establishing and implementing...[EURATOM safeguards]...the Community is prepared to consult with and exchange experiences with the International Atomic Energy

Agency with the objective of establishing a system of safeguards and control, reasonably compatible with that of the International Atomic Energy



The principles that would govern the EURATOM system were set out in an annex. This followed closely the wording of Article IX of the

IAEA Statute and included a commitment by EURATOM to “establish and require the deposit” in EURATOM’s facilities of any surplus fissile material

(cf. IAEA Statute, Article XII.A.5). The annex explicitly provided that these principles were “compatible with and based on” Article XII of the IAEA



The second reference provided that “in recognition of the importance of the International Atomic Energy Agency” the USA and the European

Commission “will consult with each other from time to time to determine whether there are any areas of responsibility with regard to safeguards and control and matters relating to health and safety in which the International

Atomic Energy Agency might be asked to assist.”


The US–EURATOM “Agreement for Cooperation” had been in gestation since the appointment of the ‘three wise men’ in November 1956. As Chairman of the US Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, Cole must have been aware of the US negotiations with EURATOM and he understood the far reaching implications that the Agreement would have for the IAEA. On 12 May 1958, he sent off an angry telegram to the Chairman of the US Atomic Energy

Commission, Admiral Lewis Strauss, expressing his dismay at the way the negotiations were going, and on 18 May he followed up with a telegram to

President Eisenhower. The US Governor, Robert McKinney, was even more forthright, telegraphing Secretary of State Christian Herter that unless a compromise was reached between the Agency and EURATOM “we might just as well consider the IAEA finished and its basic purpose destroyed, along with the entire Atoms for Peace Program which we initiated in 1953.”



Battle was joined at a hastily arranged meeting in Washington on 6 June

1958. Strauss supported Cole. EURATOM should not be given the right of self-inspection; other regions might be encouraged to form their own atomic organizations as a means of evading international inspection.


But it was all to no avail. In the deepening shadows of the Cold War the

State Department and the President believed that the USA had an overriding interest in strengthening Western European institutions. NATO would be the atomic shield behind which Western Europe, poor in coal and still totally dependent on imported oil, “could establish nuclear powered self sufficiency through EURATOM.”


Moreover, EURATOM had already developed and was applying a comprehensive safeguards system while the IAEA still had no system and was not applying safeguards anywhere. Perhaps the most important consideration for the USA, however, was that US support for EURATOM and for European integration would help to bind a peaceful and democratic

Germany into Western Europe, to set a term to the ancient enmity between

Germany and France, and to underpin a stable Western Europe whose divisions had led to two world wars during this century.

The US–EURATOM “Agreement for Cooperation” was signed on

8 November 1958 and entered into force on 12 February 1959.


It had the immediate effect of excluding the application of IAEA safeguards from most of Western Europe and they remained excluded until 1978.


Eastern Europe and the USSR would also exclude the IAEA’s inspectors — in fact any international inspectors.


But the most serious consequence of the US–EURATOM

Agreement, at least for IAEA safeguards, was that the Soviet Union would now be denied all oversight of the nuclear industry of the nation it distrusted the most, the Federal Republic of Germany. The Soviet Union would thus have no incentive to help in the development of the IAEA’s safeguards system. Instead, the Soviet Union found it in its interest to side with the opponents and critics of safeguards in the developing countries, especially India.


I A E A s a f e g u a r d s :

T h e f i r s t s m a l l s t e p s

On 27 June 1958, after much debate, the Board of Governors rejected by a vote of 17 to 6 an Indian proposal backed by the Soviet Union, its allies, and

Egypt and Indonesia “to decide against establishing a Division of Safeguards for the present.”


In the next month Sterling Cole appointed a Canadian


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 8 physicist, Roger Smith, as the first member and Director of the IAEA’s

Safeguards Division.


Japan was soon to be the first nation in which the IAEA would apply safeguards — to the Japanese JRR-3 research reactor and to its fuel of natural uranium that Canada had, in effect, donated.


The Canadian and Japanese aim was to breathe life into the safeguards provisions of the Statute and break out of the impasse in the Board. In January 1959, after several days of discussion and despite the vigorous opposition of some Governors, the Board approved by a vote of 16 to 2 with 4 abstentions a set of ad hoc safeguards for the JRR-3 reactor.

It was clear that if ad hoc safeguards had to be devised for each future transfer, the conclusion of even minor agreements would be time consuming and controversial.


Hence, in May 1959, on the proposal of a number of

Governors, the Secretariat presented the Board with a set of general safeguards principles entitled ‘The Relevancy and Method of Application of

Agency Safeguards’ and another of detailed ‘Draft Regulations for the

Application of Safeguards’. Both documents dealt with the role of safeguards and inspection in ensuring nuclear safety as well as in seeking to prevent the diversion of nuclear plant and material to military use.


Although the Statute had dealt with both the IAEA’s roles in the same


19 the Board soon decided that they should be addressed separately.

On 26 September 1959, after several revisions of the Secretariat’s proposals and the redrafting of the relevant document by an ad hoc committee of the

Board, the Board provisionally approved a set of principles relating only to safeguards against military use. The principles defined the types of equipment that could be safeguarded, the types of Agency assistance that would trigger safeguards, the amounts of nuclear material that could be supplied without invoking safeguards, as well as general principles and objectives for implementing safeguards.


On the basis of these principles the Secretariat then prepared a set of ‘Procedures for the Attachment and Application of

Agency Safeguards against Diversion’.

In January 1960, the Board discussed procedures for applying safeguards to reactors smaller than 100 MW(th) (in other words, chiefly research and experimental reactors) and referred the matter, together with the provisionally approved principles and the set of ‘Procedures’ drafted by the Secretariat, to a committee of experts meeting under the chairmanship of Dr. Gunnar Randers,

Director of the Norwegian Atomic Energy Institute (Institutt for Atomenergi).

The Board directed the ‘Randers Committee’ to combine the two documents and to clarify and simplify them.




The Board provisionally approved the Randers Committee’s proposals on

7 April 1960 and submitted them to the General Conference by an ambiguous decision that left open the question whether the Conference was being asked to approve them or simply to discuss and comment on them. After a heated debate the General Conference voted 43 to 19 with 2 abstentions to take note of the

Board’s text and invited it, before giving effect to the text, to take into account views expressed in the Conference.


Following these convoluted procedures and despite Indian and Soviet opposition and lukewarm French support, the

Board approved, on 31 January 1961, the principles and procedures for applying safeguards to reactors up to 100 MW(th).


Thus, after much labour and amid much controversy, the first IAEA safeguards system finally saw the light of day. The system was complex. For instance, it distinguished between items to which safeguards were permanently attached — e.g. a reactor placed under safeguards — and an item to which safeguards were temporarily applied — e.g. a plant that temporarily contained safeguarded fuel.

In June 1961, after 18 months of discussion and several reviews, the Board also approved the ‘Inspectors’ Document’, which laid down the procedures to be followed in designating inspectors and the rules that should govern their conduct when carrying out inspections.


The document required that the designation of an inspector to serve in any State must be approved by the government of that State, which would have the right to withdraw its approval at any time. If the State repeatedly rejected an inspector proposed by the Director

General, he might refer the matter to the Board. Except in the case of an incident requiring a ‘special inspection’, at least one week’s notice was to be given of each inspection; the notice must include the name(s) of the inspector(s), the place and time of arrival in the State concerned, and the items to be inspected.

The State might require that the inspector be accompanied by its own officials, but this must not cause undue delay. Inspectors must enter and leave the State at points and follow routes designated by the State, the State must be informed of the results of each inspection and, if it disagreed with the inspector’s findings, it might raise the matter in the Board.

The lengthy prior notice that had to be given before an inspection and the constraints placed on the inspector’s freedom of movement during an inspection reflected the hesitations of many Board members. It was clear that many governments were taken aback, even shocked, by the idea that foreign inspectors, working for an international agency, must be allowed to intrude into their territories. What was more, governments were being asked to allow foreigners to inspect what were, at that time, the most advanced and sensitive


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 8 research and industrial activities. Every precaution must be taken against disruption of those activities and industrial and military espionage! National concerns were sharpened by the fact that the nuclear weapon States of the time (France, USSR, the United Kingdom and the USA) and other leading industrialized nations, e.g. the European Community, as well as the allies of the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe, would be exempt from IAEA inspection.

The Inspectors’ Document applied to inspections carried out under the

IAEA’s first and second safeguards systems (INFCIRC/26 of 1961 and

INFCIRC/66/Rev. 1 and Rev. 2 of 1965–1968). For States that accepted comprehensive (‘full-scope’) safeguards, that is to say, for parties to the NPT or to regional treaties that require such safeguards, the Inspectors’ Document was superseded by the somewhat less constraining inspection procedures

(but even more restrictive access within nuclear plants) set forth in the NPT safeguards document (INFCIRC/153 of 1971).

The Board also decided that all IAEA inspectors must be full time officials of the IAEA (not, for instance, national officials temporarily seconded to the

IAEA by Member States) and that the Director General should appoint a member of the staff of the IAEA as an inspector only after the appointment had been approved by the Board. In practice the Board has invariably concurred in the

Director General’s nominations, but Governors have frequently complained about the geographical balance of the inspectorate and urged that more nationals from developing countries should be appointed as inspectors.

In 1961, the IAEA received further signs that its safeguards function was at last being taken seriously. As far back as September 1958, at the second

General Conference, Japan had proposed that the programmes being carried out under the USA–Japan nuclear co-operation agreement be placed under

IAEA safeguards. The USA had agreed to the Japanese proposal “when the

Agency is prepared to undertake this service.”


In 1961, the USA, Canada and Japan proposed consultations about substituting the IAEA for bilateral safeguards under the USA–Japan and Canada–Japan agreements.


In 1962, the IAEA made its first safeguards inspection, verifying the design of a zero power research reactor in Norway. In the same year the IAEA concluded agreements to apply safeguards to research reactors in Pakistan and Yugoslavia, and in what was then called ‘the Congo, Leopoldville’, later

Zaire and now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. At the invitation of the

US Government, the IAEA also arranged to apply safeguards to three US research reactors and one power reactor so as to test its procedures on plants of different design and function.




T h e f i r s t e x t e n s i v e s a f e g u a r d s s y s t e m :

I N F C I R C / 6 6 a n d i t s ‘ r e v i s i o n s ’

In February 1963, the Board was able to agree, without a dissenting vote, that the existing safeguards system (INFCIRC/26) — applicable to reactors rated at less than 100 MW(th) — should be extended to cover reactors of any size. This would enable the IAEA to apply safeguards to the power reactors that Canada and the USA were selling to India and that the

United Kingdom was selling to Japan.


This may explain why India, despite its earlier sharp criticism of INFCIRC/26, did not object to its extension to larger reactors.

As has been noted in Chapter 5, June 1963 brought a breakthrough of major importance. The Soviet Union joined the other members of the IAEA

Board in approving (provisionally) the revised version of INFCIRC/26 and, at the same time, in calling for a general review of the safeguards system. In explaining his vote, Ambassador Vassily Emelyanov informed a startled audience that, as the Governors knew, the Soviet Union had always regarded the application of safeguards as the most important task of the Agency.


This dramatic change may have taken the Board by surprise but it was very welcome to the IAEA Secretariat and to the governments that had supported

IAEA safeguards from the start.

The Board referred the revised version of INFCIRC/26 (covering reactors of any size) to the General Conference, which adopted a resolution endorsing it by 57 votes in favour, 4 against and 6 abstentions. In February 1964, the

Board gave its final approval to the extension (issued as document

INFCIRC/26, Add. 1) and set up a working group, again under the chairmanship of Gunnar Randers, to carry out the review of the system.

The polemics that had dominated the initial discussion of INFCIRC/26 had resulted in “one of the most convoluted pieces of verbal expression in history” which “few people could comprehend, except in long discussion with the handful that did.”


In contrast, the working group now undertook a business-like revision of INFCIRC/26, studying how the system could be made to work most effectively and how its provisions could be most simply articulated.


The new system that emerged (INFCIRC/66) was completed within a year and provisionally approved by the Board in February 1965 by a vote of 22 in favour, none against and 2 abstentions

32 and unanimously endorsed by the General Conference in September 1965. The Board promptly gave its final approval, also unanimously.



P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 8

During the next four years, and largely as a result of the new Soviet attitude, it became possible to draw up a safeguards system that would apply not only to all sizes of nuclear reactors (INFCIRC/66 of June 1965), but also to reprocessing plants (INFCIRC/66/Rev. 1 of 1966) and to fuel fabrication plants (INFCIRC/66/Rev. 2 of June 1968). Unanimity was also achieved when the Board approved the two new documents. The Board referred both extensions of the system to the General Conference, but for the latter’s information rather than its endorsement.


With a nearly complete safeguards system in prospect and a steady expansion of the IAEA’s ability to apply effective safeguards, the USA (with the United Kingdom following suit) decided that it would henceforth insist on IAEA safeguards on all nuclear plants and material covered by new or amended bilateral co-operation agreements, except those with EURATOM.


Every bilateral partner of the USA, except Japan, at first objected strenuously to the application of IAEA in place of US safeguards, apparently preferring the US inspectors, with whom they were on friendly terms, to the unknown officials of the IAEA who might be nationals of a State with which their relations were strained or hostile.


However, many co-operation agreements were coming up for amendment and this, together with the fact that the partner nations still depended on the USA for nuclear supplies, provided the USA with enough leverage to induce them, however reluctantly, to accept the new

US policy.


The first significant result came soon after June 1963, when the Soviet

Union had reversed its attitude to IAEA safeguards. On 23 September 1963, the USA, Japan and the IAEA signed an agreement placing under IAEA safeguards all nuclear plants and fuel of US origin in Japan. The list included two large reactors (one a demonstration power reactor) and 11 smaller reactors and critical facilities. In the same month the United Kingdom and Japan informed the IAEA that they would follow suit with plants and fuel of British origin in Japan. This would bring under IAEA safeguards the Tokai-1

585 MW(th) power plant, due to come into operation in 1965.


The experience gained in applying INFCIRC/66 safeguards did much to equip the IAEA for the challenging task that lay ahead, namely to verify the obligation accepted by non-nuclear-weapon States under the NPT to place virtually all their nuclear material under IAEA safeguards.


Seven years later, when the Board approved the NPT safeguards system

(INFCIRC/153), all non-nuclear-weapon States party to the NPT were required to negotiate safeguards agreements based on that system.


The safeguards


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A required by agreements they had concluded under INFCIRC/66 and its revisions were placed in suspense — after obtaining the consent of the nuclear supplier if it was party to the agreement.


INFCIRC/66 safeguards continued to apply to plant and material in States that did not adhere to the NPT or to the regional treaties that required comprehensive safeguards. At the end of

1995, INFCIRC/66 safeguards still applied to certain nuclear plants in four

States not party to the NPT or the Tlatelolco Treaty (India, Israel, Pakistan and

Cuba) and in one other non-nuclear-weapon State party to the NPT that had not yet concluded a full-scope safeguards agreement (Algeria).

The change in the Soviet attitude did not only clear the way to a prompt extension of the range and coverage of INFCIRC/66/Rev. 2 safeguards. With both superpowers squarely behind IAEA safeguards, the system gained in authority and legitimacy. By 30 June 1964,

42 the IAEA had concluded safeguards agreements with 11 States covering 36 nuclear reactors. By 30 June 1970, the

Board had approved agreements with 32 States covering 68 research reactors,

10 power reactors, 2 pilot reprocessing plants and 2 other fuel cycle plants.


The safeguards budget rose from $354 000 in 1965 to $1 272 000 in 1970.

There has been much speculation as to what lay behind the Soviet change of attitude in 1963. Bertrand Goldschmidt ascribed it chiefly to the détente between the USSR and the USA that followed the 1962 Cuban missile crisis and that bore fruit in the conclusion of the Limited Test Ban Treaty of 1963.


Another contributing factor may have been the fact that the Soviet Union had burned its fingers in China. In describing the Soviet contribution to Chinese nuclear weapons, first tested in 1964, Khrushchev (not always a reliable witness) wrote that: “Before the rupture in our relations, we’d given them almost everything they asked for. We kept no secrets from them. Our nuclear experts co-operated with their engineers and designers who were busy building an atomic bomb. We trained their scientists in our own laboratories.” He added that a prototype bomb had already been packed and was awaiting transport to China. The shipment was cancelled only at the last moment.


When Sino–Soviet relations turned from friendship to hostility the Soviet Union must have become bitterly aware of the fact that it had helped China to acquire a nuclear arsenal, part of which would now be targeted on the Soviet Union itself. But while the improvement in US–Soviet relations and the Soviet Union’s sobering experience in

China may have contributed to its changed attitude to IAEA safeguards, there is no doubt that the underlying cause of the change was Soviet concern about the

Federal Republic of Germany and its emerging nuclear programme. It had become clear that stronger international safeguards would serve the interests


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 8 of the Soviet Union, even though it was by no means certain in 1963 that IAEA safeguards would one day be applied in the Federal Republic of Germany.

Other developments of safeguards interest during the 1960s included the following:

— Joint notifications to the IAEA were made by Israel and South Africa of deliveries to Israel of uranium oxide amounting to ten tonnes. The notifications were made in 1962 and 1963. The material was not placed under safeguards but was supplied under a commitment that it would be used solely for peaceful purposes.


— In August 1965, the IAEA convened the first international symposium on the management of nuclear materials.


— In the mid-1960s, the IAEA launched a new programme of research support designed to improve the efficacy and cost effectiveness of safeguards. By 1970, the contribution of the IAEA to such research contracts exceeded $100 000,

48 but by far the larger share of the costs was borne by the handful of Member States in which the research was carried out, including the USA, Japan, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Soviet

Union, Spain, Belgium and the United Kingdom.

— In August and September 1967, the IAEA carried out its first inspection at a reprocessing plant and its first use of ‘resident inspection’. The fuel being safeguarded was ten tons of irradiated low enriched uranium from the Yankee power plant and the reprocessing plant was at West

Valley in New York State. Ten inspectors took part in the exercise, which was designed to test the procedures for accounting for all declared nuclear material. The proportion of nuclear material unaccounted for was less than 0.3% of total throughput.


— In 1969, the IAEA held the first training course for its inspectors.


S a f e g u a r d s u n d e r t h e N P T

At the 1966 General Conference, Poland and Czechoslovakia offered to accept comprehensive IAEA safeguards if the Federal Republic of Germany would do the same.


Norway went further, proposing that all States not already possessing nuclear weapons should place their entire programmes under safeguards. These were echoes of the discussions going on in Geneva about the NPT, and were harbingers of a new safeguards regime.



As the NPT drew closer, the IAEA began to prepare for the impact it would have on the Agency’s safeguards. In 1969, the Agency established a second Division in the Safeguards Department, devoted exclusively to safeguards research and development. The Director General also appointed a

Secretariat working group to prepare the draft texts of articles of the comprehensive safeguards agreement that, by Article III.1 of the NPT, non-nuclearweapon States would be required to conclude with the Agency. The group drew up a complete draft agreement which subsequently provided the basis for a ‘dry run’ negotiation with Finland.


From 1967 until 1969 the IAEA drew on the services of numerous experts to analyse systems for safeguarding the fuel cycle of a State having a sophisticated nuclear industry.


From this work the concept of a ‘material balance area’ (MBA) emerged as fundamental for accounting for nuclear material. For instance, the MBA would be used to help determine:

— What information on the design of a nuclear plant was needed for a review for safeguards purposes,

— What records and reporting system were needed for safeguards,

— What inspection procedures should be followed and what should be the relationship between inspections, records and reports.


The experts also helped to translate the concept of material accountancy into detailed guidelines for quantifying the results of inspections and to address crucial safeguards issues such as ‘material unaccounted for’,

55 the desirable frequency of physical inventories (taking stock of nuclear material in each MBA) and for safeguarding scrap and discarded material.


It was clear that the main technical problem that safeguards would have to face would be the accurate measurement of nuclear material when it was being processed in bulk form (e.g. as a liquid, gas or powder). Highly accurate measurement of plutonium would be particularly difficult when spent nuclear fuel was being reprocessed, fresh fuel containing plutonium was being fabricated, or separated plutonium was in storage. The Federal Republic of Germany, the USA, the USSR and the United Kingdom studied and carried out experiments to help determine how to apply safeguards effectively in reprocessing plants.

In 1970, the IAEA convened a symposium on safeguards techniques at the Nuclear Research Centre in Karlsruhe, Federal Republic of Germany.

Many of the safeguards concepts embodied in the Preamble to the NPT, and


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 8 eventually in the NPT safeguards system (INFCIRC/153), were attributed to the work of the leaders of the Karlsruhe Centre, Professors Wolf Haefele and

Karl Wirtz.

T h e ‘ S a f e g u a r d s C o m m i t t e e ( 1 9 7 0 ) ’

On 6 April 1970, a little over four weeks after the NPT entered into force, and after some vigorous controversy, the Board established a committee open to all the Member States of the Agency to advise it, as a matter of urgency, on the safeguards agreement that each non-nuclear-weapon State party to the

NPT must conclude with the IAEA.


All Member States were invited to submit their views; 31 did so and 48 took part in the committee’s work. The urgency of the committee’s task stemmed from the tight timetable that the

NPT had set for the negotiation and entry into force of such agreements. The non-nuclear-weapon States had already ratified the NPT when it entered into force on 5 March 1970 were required by the Treaty to begin the negotiation of their safeguards agreements within 180 days after that date, i.e. by

1 September 1970, and to conclude the agreements within 18 months after the day on which their negotiations began.


On 11 March the Director General sent a circular letter to Member


59 inviting comments on a draft of a model NPT safeguards agreement that the Secretariat had prepared after exploratory discussions with a Finnish delegation (Finland was eager to conclude its safeguards agreement as soon as possible). The Secretariat’s draft was based on the existing safeguards system (INFCIRC/66/Rev. 2) but modified to take account of the requirements of the NPT as the Secretariat understood them.

The 31 replies to the Director General’s letter showed that a number of new safeguards concepts would have to be introduced to take account of the provisions of the NPT, in particular the principle enunciated in the Preamble to the Treaty “of safeguarding the flow of source and special fissionable material by the use of instruments and other techniques at certain strategic points.”

Subsequently, at the request of the Board, the Director General submitted a document to the Safeguards Committee outlining the possible two part framework of a standard safeguards agreement, a framework that the Committee subsequently approved. The first part would specify the fundamental rights and obligations of the parties and the second, the technical principles and procedures to be applied. The Director General’s paper highlighted some important points.


Amongst them were that each non-nuclear-weapon State should


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A maintain a national system to account for and control safeguarded nuclear material, that it would be necessary to specify procedures for withdrawing nuclear material from peaceful uses to military activities not prohibited by the

Treaty (such as nuclear powered naval vessels) and that processes that merely changed the chemical or isotopic composition of nuclear material (reprocessing and enrichment) were not intrinsically military and hence were subject to safeguards. The affirmation that reprocessing and enrichment were not intrinsically military meant that a non-nuclear-weapon State party to the NPT could not have a complete unsafeguarded military fuel cycle, while the specification of detailed formal procedures for withdrawal of nuclear material meant that the

State could not withdraw material from safeguards simply by making a declaration that it intended to use the material in a ‘permitted’ military use.


The Committee met for the first time on 12 June 1970, under the chairmanship of Kurt Waldheim, subsequently Secretary General of the UN and

President of Austria. Dr. Waldheim soon left for his new post as Austria’s

Permanent Representative to the United Nations and passed the chair to one of the two vice-chairmen, Dr. Bruno Straub of Hungary, who did an outstanding job and confounded the misgivings of some NATO States about the wisdom of appointing a scientist from a Socialist country to such a sensitive post. The other vice-chairman, Dr. Joe Quartey of Ghana, ably stood in for

Dr. Straub when the latter had to return to Budapest.

Despite a wide divergence of approach amongst its participants and the complexity of the task before it, the Committee completed its work in eight months — by 10 March 1971.


Two of the three nuclear weapon States then party to the Treaty (the USA and the USSR) as well as Canada and most Eastern European States generally pressed for rigorous safeguards and, accordingly, for extensive rights of access for the IAEA and its inspectors and, in particular, for the Agency’s right independently to verify that no diversion of nuclear material was taking place.


The leading industrial non-nuclear-weapon States pressed successfully for a more systematic and detailed statement than in INFCIRC/66 of the technical approach to be followed in applying safeguards — an approach that drew upon a systems analysis prepared by the Karlsruhe Centre and upon the language of the NPT itself.


It was obvious that since NPT safeguards would apply to the entire fuel cycle of the States concerned, the new system should be able to verify the flow of nuclear material through that cycle in a way that had hitherto been impossible when safeguards applied only to individual nuclear plants or to


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 8 shipments of fuel.


This would permit the IAEA to reduce the use of inspectors and maximize the use of instruments.

The EURATOM delegations succeeded in sustaining the principle, implicit in the NPT, that safeguards should be applied only to nuclear material (and not, as provided in INFCIRC/66, also to plant and equipment) and in limiting the access of inspectors, during routine inspections, to previously agreed ‘strategic points’. In simple language, this meant that IAEA inspectors would normally — i.e. during routine inspections — verify only nuclear material at locations that had been declared by the State

66 and would do so by access that would be limited to pre-defined strategic points in the plant concerned — but the strategic points would be so defined as [all] the points necessary for the Agency to accomplish its task of applying safeguards to all nuclear material in the State. (The concepts of verifying the flow of nuclear material and of focusing on ‘strategic points’ were already reflected in the

Preamble of the NPT itself, but in non-binding language and in terms of furthering the application of this concept.)

The EURATOM delegations accepted, however, that there would be no limit on the IAEA’s access rights if the Board considered that a ‘special inspection’ was needed, and the State gave its agreement, or if the Board decided that a special inspection was urgent and essential to verify non-diversion.


Similarly, the IAEA would, in effect, have free access when it carried out so-called ad hoc inspections (chiefly to verify the State’s Initial Report on its holdings of nuclear material).


The Committee agreed on the principle, already accepted during the negotiation of the NPT, and again proposed by the Director General, that each non-nuclear-weapon State party to the NPT must establish and maintain a national (or in the case of EURATOM a regional) system of accounting for and control of nuclear material required to be placed under safeguards.


It was also agreed that the IAEA’s safeguards be applied so as to verify “findings of the State’s system” (Japan first proposed, unsuccessfully, that the IAEA should only verify “the implementation of the control of nuclear materials by the State”, and not the findings of the State’s system) and that the IAEA should take due account of the technical effectiveness of that system.


However, Japan and the EURATOM non-nuclear-weapon States accepted that the IAEA’s verification should also include, amongst other activities, its own “independent measurements and observations” (and should not be limited to verifying the findings of the State’s system), a principle upon which the USA, USSR and others successfully insisted. The IAEA would thus


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A have the right to verify, independently, by means of its own choice, that there had been no diversion of nuclear material.

The exporters of uranium succeeded in exempting uranium concentrates from inspections; but the Committee agreed that exports and imports, even of uranium ore, should be notified to the IAEA, and that such notification was itself a form of safeguards.


In March 1971, the ‘Safeguards Committee (1970)’ forwarded to the

Board a 116 paragraph outline of a comprehensive safeguards agreement. The

Board promptly approved it as a basis for negotiations (INFCIRC/153), with dissent only on one issue, a French reservation subsequently withdrawn, relating to the apportionment of the costs of safeguards. On a related issue the

Board accepted the Committee’s recommendation that the cost of safeguards should continue to be met from the regular (i.e. assessed) budget, but that the method of assessing contributions should be revised to limit the share of safeguards costs to be borne by poorer countries.

N P T s a f e g u a r d s a g r e e m e n t s w i t h

E U R A T O M a n d J a p a n

The non-nuclear-weapon States party to the NPT now began the negotiation, usually in Vienna, of the safeguards agreements required by the

Treaty. The Agency’s Annual Report covering the 12 months up to 30 June 1971 noted that, by that date, 29 agreements were already under negotiation.

However, the main challenges lay ahead, namely reaching agreement with

EURATOM and its five non-nuclear-weapon States on the safeguards to be applied in those States, and then reaching agreement with Japan. The five

EURATOM States and Japan had made it clear that they would not ratify the

NPT until they knew precisely what obligations they would be required to accept under their agreements. The implication of this stance was obvious: they were not prepared to accept an agreement under which the IAEA would simply apply in their territories the safeguards approved by the Board in document INFCIRC/153.

The EURATOM States had apparently agreed to a joint directive for their negotiators (a ‘mandate’) under which they would propose that responsibility for applying the safeguards required by the NPT be assigned to

EURATOM itself, while the IAEA would merely verify by ‘spot checks’

(‘Stichproben’) that EURATOM was applying effective safeguards.


Japan, fearing that it would be discriminated against, was intent on obtaining an


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 8 agreement virtually identical to that with EURATOM. The IAEA’s negotiators were aware of Japan’s negotiating position, which Japanese officials had hinted at on a number of occasions. However, when the negotiations with EURATOM began, the IAEA team was not aware of the somewhat curious mandate that the

EURATOM ministers had agreed upon. The proposition that EURATOM would be responsible for applying safeguards pursuant to the NPT had no basis in the

Treaty and was, of course, unacceptable to the IAEA.

After lengthy and difficult negotiations the two agencies were able to conclude an agreement in terms of which each would apply its own safeguards (based on INFCIRC/153 in the case of the IAEA and, in practice, based largely on the same document in the case of EURATOM). In all cases the number of person-days to be spent by EURATOM inspectors at a particular nuclear plant would exceed the number spent by IAEA inspectors. The core of the agreement based on INFCIRC/153 would be amplified by a protocol that would mesh together the two safeguards operations and seek to avoid unnecessary duplication. The agreement that the IAEA eventually negotiated with Japan resembled that with EURATOM with the significant difference, however, that the implementation of the Protocol to the agreement with Japan would be contingent upon Japan devising and operating a national system as technically effective and functionally independent as that of EURATOM. The Japanese were satisfied with this contingent commitment, interpreting it as an assurance that they would not be discriminated against, and the door was thus opened for the Diet’s ratification of the NPT.

The IAEA negotiators maintained that the special safeguards arrangements with EURATOM and Japan were based solely on technical and organizational grounds. This was a convenient fiction; in fact, the arrangements were necessary to secure EURATOM (and particularly German) and Japanese ratification of the NPT.


Negotiation of the safeguards agreement with EURATOM and its five non-nuclear-weapon States came to a formal end when the Director General and the representatives of EURATOM and its five non-nuclear-weapon States signed the agreement on 5 April 1973. The five States simultaneously ratified the NPT on 2 May 1975. However, at least some of them still had to pass enabling legislation or take other legal action before IAEA inspectors could enter their nuclear plants for inspection purposes. Hence, the safeguards agreement came into force only on 21 February 1977. And it was not until

March 1979 that certain outstanding problems about important ‘facility


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A attachments’ were resolved and the Governor from France, speaking on behalf of the European Community, could welcome “the happy outcome of the negotiations,” and that the Board could now turn its full attention to other matters.

Japan ratified the NPT on 8 June 1976, and its safeguards agreement came into force on 2 December 1977.

One of the understandings associated with Japan’s negotiation of its safeguards agreement was that the IAEA would set up a senior committee to advise the Director General on safeguards matters. The Director General informed the Board on 21 May 1975 that he was appointing the members of a

‘Standing Advisory Group on Safeguards Implementation’ (SAGSI).


The group would deal with questions that he or the Board or the group’s own members submitted to it. The members of SAGSI would serve in their personal capacity, but the Director General would consult their governments before appointing them. In practice, SAGSI’s recommendations have reflected the collective views and policies of the nations that are most concerned with the application of safeguards.

One of SAGSI’s first tasks was to propose the framework for an annual report to the Board, the Safeguards Implementation Report (SIR), in which the

Secretariat would analyse each year the results obtained in applying safeguards and the problems encountered.


The circulation of the SIR was and is officially restricted to Member States and the Secretariat, but it has often been

‘leaked’ and critics have selectively used its analyses as a weapon to discredit

IAEA safeguards.

Until 1975, the safeguards agreements that the IAEA concluded with countries that were not parties to the NPT required the country concerned to undertake not to use any safeguarded item in such a way as to further any military purpose. This was the formula used in the IAEA’s Statute.


As early as 1955 there had been debates as to what not furthering a military purpose meant in practice. During the Washington discussions on the Statute,

Bertrand Goldschmidt had asked facetiously whether it meant that the electricity from a nuclear power plant should not be supplied to a barracks housing female soldiers. The growing interest in the use of nuclear explosions for peaceful purposes further muddied the waters. Why should a nonnuclear-weapon State be barred from manufacturing and detonating a ‘peaceful’ nuclear device?

The text of the NPT was unambiguous in this respect. It did not prohibit the use of nuclear energy for military purposes such as the propulsion of


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 8 warships, but it did prohibit non-nuclear-weapons States from acquiring nuclear weapons or any other nuclear explosive devices. The reason for prohibiting all nuclear explosive devices was — and still is — that there is no significant technological difference between a nuclear device used for a military or a civilian purpose. In fact in a number of cases the prototype of a plutonium bomb has been a nuclear explosive device such as that used at Alamogordo in the 1945 ‘Trinity’ test or the device that India used at Pokharan.

In 1974, after India had declared that the Pokharan explosion was for

‘peaceful’ purposes, and since Argentina and Brazil were contending that, under the Tlatelolco Treaty, they were permitted to make and detonate

‘peaceful’ nuclear explosives, it was clearly necessary to ensure that there was no such ambiguity in any IAEA safeguards agreement concluded with a nonnuclear-weapon State that was not party to the NPT or that had not renounced the acquisition of any nuclear explosive devices in another legally binding manner. In 1975, the IAEA was negotiating a safeguards agreement with

Spain, which had not yet acceded to the NPT.


The IAEA Secretariat proposed that the agreement should explicitly preclude the use of the safeguarded material not only in a nuclear weapon, but also in any other form of nuclear explosive device (as well as for any other military purpose). The

Spanish negotiators were reluctant to be the first to depart from the formula used until then in all safeguards agreements (an undertaking that the items covered by the agreement would not be used to further “any military purpose”). It was eventually agreed that the old formula would be retained in the text of the agreement, but that the text would be amplified by an exchange of letters which would be brought to the attention of the Board of Governors. In this exchange of letters Spain would agree in writing that the old formula meant that the nuclear material covered by the agreement might not be used in any form of nuclear explosive device (as well as that it might not be used for any other military purpose). The Board approved the agreement and the

Director General announced that in future the commitment not to use safeguarded material in any form of nuclear explosive would be made explicit in the agreement itself rather than in an exchange of letters.


Accordingly, all subsequent safeguards agreements with non-nuclearweapon States not party to the NPT are — like those with parties to the Treaty

— quite unambiguous on this point. As will be seen in Chapter 9, this issue spilled over into the Board’s discussion of a revision of the ‘Guiding

Principles and General Operating Rules’ governing the provision of technical assistance by the Agency.



U n i q u e a g r e e m e n t s w i t h B r a z i l , P a k i s t a n a n d t h e R e p u b l i c o f K o r e a :

T h e N u c l e a r S u p p l i e r s ’ G r o u p G u i d e l i n e s

In the mid-1970s, when the main nuclear suppliers, meeting in London, were standardizing and tightening their export rules, the IAEA concluded safeguards agreements that, for the first time, were specifically designed to cover the transfer of nuclear technology. The agreements were designed to safeguard the reprocessing plants that France was selling to the Republic of

Korea and to Pakistan, and the nuclear power plants and the enrichment and reprocessing technology that the Federal Republic of Germany was selling to



The agreements contained many novel features designed to ensure that the transfer of technology foreseen by the agreements would not help the importing country to acquire nuclear weapons.

But Brazil and Pakistan had not joined the NPT and seemed unlikely to do so; in other words, neither nation had formally renounced nuclear weapons and, at that time, neither seemed likely to do so. The Republic of

Korea was a party to the NPT, but as subsequent events were to show, it was located in a region of the world where the political incentive to acquire nuclear weapons was strong.


The sales seemed to confirm the worst fears of the Carter

Administration. The President despatched Vice-President Walter Mondale to

Bonn to persuade Chancellor Helmut Schmidt to abandon the German–

Brazilian agreement, Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher to Brazilia to persuade the Brazilian Government to do likewise, and Henry Kissinger to

Seoul and Paris to persuade President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing to cancel the impending French sales.

Mondale and Christopher travelled in vain. The Brazilian sale was the nuclear deal of the century for the Federal Republic of Germany. It called for the construction of eight large German designed nuclear power reactors and for the transfer of reprocessing technology, as well as of the so-called ‘jet nozzle’ enrichment technology developed by the German scientist, Dr. Erwin

W. Becker. The Brazilians were equally committed to the contract and the prestige of the Brazilian Government was at stake.

Kissinger was more successful. Under powerful US pressure, the

Republic of Korea soon cancelled its contract with France — the French, naturally, did not actively help to secure the cancellation, but did not object, and this was very helpful.


President Giscard d’Estaing was persuaded to


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 8 cancel the French contract with Pakistan, but not before the blueprints of the reprocessing plant had been handed over to the Pakistanis. The cancellation cost the French Government dear in compensation to French firms whose contracts had to be broken.

In the end the German–Brazilian deal turned out to be equally, if not more, disappointing to the two governments and to the exporting companies.

The Becker enrichment process proved to be uneconomic and the Brazilians eventually abandoned it. The German reprocessing technology was transferred to Brazil, but not put to use. The German and Brazilian construction companies, Siemens and NUCLEBRAS, started work in 1976 on one of the eight nuclear power reactors envisaged under the agreement. It will be the only one to see the light of day, but will not be completed until 1999, 23 years after construction started, and then only at vast expense: recent estimates range from $7 billion to $10 billion.


And the uranium that Brazil was expected to supply to the Federal Republic of Germany did not materialize. A wag at the

IAEA described the agreement as an undertaking to supply a nuclear technology that did not quite work in return for uranium that did not quite exist.

The three safeguards agreements incorporated the new requirement of the London guidelines that ‘sensitive’ nuclear technology as well as sensitive nuclear hardware should be subject to IAEA safeguards when it was exported to a non-nuclear-weapon State.


In other words, if an importing country replicated the technology that was embodied in imported ‘sensitive’ hardware, that country would be legally obliged to place the plant incorporating the replicated technology under IAEA safeguards. The same requirement would apply if the importing country bought the blueprint for a ‘sensitive’ plant, built it under IAEA safeguards, and then replicated it at a later date.

Even if the importing country did not use the originally imported design but simply built a plant using “the same or an essentially similar physical or chemical process” within a set period of time after the transfer of the original design (20 years in the case of the Brazilian–German agreement), it would have to inform the IAEA and put the plant under safeguards. This concept seems far fetched, and it has never been tested. Obviously its effectiveness would and will depend largely on the good faith of the importing country in reporting to the IAEA any plant that it replicated (or, perhaps, on the results of intelligence provided to the IAEA).

But even if the importing country acts in good faith, the indirect benefits it will derive from acquiring and operating an imported sensitive plant may help it to plan and carry out a parallel unsafeguarded military programme.



For instance, the feedstock for most enrichment processes is a highly corrosive gas, uranium hexafluoride. Engineers trained in using the Becker ‘jet nozzle’ process would gain valuable knowledge and experience in producing and using uranium hexafluoride as the feedstock for the quite different gas centrifuge enrichment process in a parallel unsafeguarded programme. It has been reported that this was precisely what happened in Brazil before it renounced plans for making nuclear weapons and concluded the ABACC agreement (see below).

As noted, the 1978 Non-Proliferation Act required the US Government to seek to renegotiate almost all its agreements for peaceful nuclear co-operation with other nations. It will be recalled that the IAEA was the nominal supplier to Yugoslavia of a US (Westinghouse) power reactor at Krško (now in Slovenia) and its fuel. When the USA informed the Yugoslav Government that the existing agreement would have to be renegotiated the Yugoslavs decided to appeal to the IAEA for support in resisting US demands. A

Yugoslav delegation of five or six federal ministers and ambassadors descended on the IAEA and angrily denounced both the US Government and the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) Guidelines. Director General Eklund subsequently took up the matter with Vice-President Mondale who was visiting Vienna on other US business, but to no avail; the Vice-President could not change the requirements of the US Non-Proliferation Act. The incident was an uncomfortable illustration of the risk that the IAEA ran if it was presented (on paper) as the legal supplier of nuclear plant and fuel when, in fact, the true supplier held all the cards.

R e g i o n a l f u e l c y c l e c e n t r e s

Another promising safeguards concept that came in for much attention in the mid-1970s was the multinational or regional fuel cycle centre. Like so many other non-proliferation initiatives at that time, the idea was first promoted by Washington — perhaps encouraged by the success of a European model of such a centre in the OECD’s ENEA-sponsored multinational (Western

European) EUROCHEMIC reprocessing plant. The object would be to induce governments to build and operate multinational or regional rather than national reprocessing or enrichment plants. It was assumed that in such plants the misuse or diversion of nuclear material would be improbable; the participating nations and the members of the multinational staff would keep an eye on each other and collusion could be ruled out.


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 8

After wide ranging consultations, the IAEA published a comprehensive study of the way in which such centres could be set up and the benefits they could offer.


But there were no takers. The problems to be overcome in establishing and running a multinational commercial reprocessing enterprise were perceived to be overwhelming. Above all, the political will to set up such enterprises was lacking. Pierre Huet was the first Director General of the

ENEA and under his direction the organization succeeded in launching three multinational nuclear enterprises. At his farewell dinner in the early 1970s,

Huet analysed the factors that determined success or failure in such ventures.

Chief amongst them were the political will driving the project, its intrinsic scientific or technical interest and the extent to which it was still far from being a commercial undertaking. EUROCHEMIC had succeeded in getting the support of governments because it was a pilot, not a commercial plant. If, however, there was a prospect of early profit, governments would go for a purely national investment. This, he implied, was why NEA’s recent soundings about the possibility of a joint Western European fast breeder reactor and a joint nuclear merchant ship had failed. Instead, each of the leading nuclear nations was building its own prototype breeder and the Germans were building the NS Otto Hahn. The golden years for joint European ventures in nuclear

R&D were past and it was time for Huet to leave. History appears to lend Huet support; in a shrinking market and with shrinking funds available for research there have been mergers between existing nuclear corporations, but the only major new joint enterprise, struggling to get aloft — the International

Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project — is still very far from being a commercial undertaking.


R e p o r t i n g o f n u c l e a r e x p o r t s

All safeguards agreements concluded under the 1965–1968 system

(INFCIRC/66/Rev. 2) required the States concerned to notify the IAEA of exports or imports of nuclear material required to be safeguarded under the agreement, but in other cases such notifications were not necessarily made to the IAEA, for instance under the US–EURATOM agreement and under other bilateral agreements.

In April 1965, the USA voluntarily undertook to inform the IAEA of all its transfers of nuclear material and the Director General subsequently consulted other principal suppliers about setting up an international transfer


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A register. In 1966 and 1967, Canada and Norway agreed to notify the IAEA of all their transfers of nuclear material.


In July 1974, three of the five nuclear weapon States, namely the United

Kingdom, the USSR and the USA, undertook to notify the IAEA in advance of their transfers of nuclear material to any non-nuclear-weapon State if the amount to be exported exceeded one effective kilogram. France followed suit in 1984 and China in 1991.

The notification to the IAEA would include the name of the organization or company in the nuclear weapon State that would prepare the material for export, a description of the material, and, where possible, the quantity and composition of the material and its destination State and organization or company. The notification would be promptly confirmed after the export took place and the confirmation would indicate the actual quantity and composition of the material and the date of shipment.

The five nuclear weapon States also undertook to provide similar notifications about their imports of nuclear material if the material had been under IAEA safeguards in the country of origin before it was imported.

Notifications of imports would identify the originating State and organization, describe the material being imported and be sent to the IAEA as soon as possible after the receipt of the material.


After 1970, when a non-nuclear-weapon State adhered to the NPT, its standard NPT safeguards agreement required it to give the IAEA advance notifications of all such transfers.


On becoming party to the Treaty, a nuclear weapon State also accepted the obligation not to export nuclear material and specified nuclear equipment unless the nuclear material or equipment would be placed under IAEA safeguards; this obligation applied only to exports to non-nuclear-weapon States.


In the aftermath of the Gulf War and the disclosure of the Iraqi

Government’s clandestine procurement of nuclear and dual-use equipment and material, the IAEA, acting on a proposal of the European Union, established a ‘universal reporting system’

90 under which participating nations would voluntarily agree to notify the IAEA of all transfers of specified nuclear equipment and non-nuclear as well as nuclear material. ‘Programme

93 + 2’, discussed later in this chapter, would impose a legally binding obligation (in the form of a protocol to existing comprehensive safeguards agreements) to make such reports. The Board approved the protocol in May 1997.

After the Gulf War, the NSG Guidelines were amended to enjoin members of the NSG to require comprehensive safeguards as a condition of their


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 8 nuclear supplies to non-nuclear-weapon States. As of the end of 1995, the

States whose imports would be affected by this recommendation were India,

Israel and Pakistan since all other non-nuclear-weapon States likely to import nuclear plant or material from members of the Group were parties to the NPT or to the Tlatelolco Treaty.

T h e T l a t e l o l c o T r e a t y

After the 1962 Cuban missile crisis the leading Latin American countries, with Mexico in the van, were resolved to ensure that the region would remain permanently free from the threat of nuclear war and to prevent a second deployment of nuclear weapons in Latin America.

On 14 February 1967, the delegates of 21 Latin American countries, meeting in Mexico City, opened for signature the ‘Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America’, or the ‘Tlatelolco Treaty’, so named after the part of Mexico City where the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is located and where the negotiation of the Treaty had taken place.


In June 1968, the Board of Governors approved a comprehensive safeguards agreement with Mexico, the first such agreement to be concluded under the Tlatelolco Treaty, and also the first to apply safeguards to the entire nuclear fuel cycle of any nation outside the European Union. The agreement was necessarily based on INFCIRC/66/Rev. 2. It entered into force on 6 September 1968 and its application was suspended in 1973 after Mexico joined the NPT and concluded a safeguards agreement pursuant to both the NPT and the

Tlatelolco Treaty.


The experience gained in drawing up the Tlatelolco Treaty was helpful to the negotiators of the NPT and of other treaties creating other nuclear weapon free zones. To give an example, the Tlatelolco Treaty requires its parties to conclude agreements for the application of IAEA safeguards on all their nuclear activities and sets time limits for concluding those agreements, requirements that are repeated in the NPT and in later regional treaties.

However, the Tlatelolco Treaty also contains ambiguities that the negotiators of the NPT were careful to avoid. For instance, the Tlatelolco Treaty could be interpreted as permitting its parties to acquire and use nuclear explosives for peaceful purposes or, alternatively, of prohibiting them from doing so. Article II of the NPT and corresponding clauses in most other regional treaties explicitly prohibit non-nuclear-weapon States from acquiring any type


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A of nuclear explosive device and Article V of the NPT stipulates that peaceful nuclear explosions may only be made and used by the five recognized nuclear weapon States (but that a non-nuclear-weapon State party to the NPT should have equal access to the ‘benefits’ of such explosions — by arranging with a nuclear weapon State to carry out a nuclear explosion on behalf of the non-nuclear-weapon party).

Nearly all other Latin American States shared Mexico’s view that the

Tlatelolco Treaty did not permit its parties to acquire or use any form of nuclear explosive device. Most of their comprehensive safeguards agreements with the IAEA were designed to satisfy their obligations under both the Tlatelolco Treaty and the NPT and the agreements explicitly prohibit the acquisition of any form of nuclear explosive device. But the two States that had the most advanced nuclear programmes in Latin America, Argentina and

Brazil, took the opposite view, at least until the late 1980s. For more than

20 years Brazil refrained from bringing the Tlatelolco Treaty fully into force,


Argentina and Chile refused to ratify it and Cuba to sign it. Finally, after major changes in nuclear policy, Argentina, Brazil and Chile became parties to the Tlatelolco Treaty in 1994 and Cuba signed it in 1995.


The Rarotonga Treaty of 1986 creating a nuclear weapon free zone in the

South Pacific, the Pelindaba Treaty creating such a zone in Africa and opened for signature in Cairo in 1996, and the Bangkok Treaty creating a similar zone in South East Asia and opened for signature at the end of 1995, explicitly proscribe all forms of nuclear explosives and assign chiefly to the IAEA the task of verifying compliance with this prohibition.

T h e b o m b i n g o f t h e T a m u z r e a c t o r i n I r a q :

T h e i m p l i c a t i o n s f o r I A E A s a f e g u a r d s

On Sunday 7 June 1981, Israeli aircraft destroyed Tamuz 1, the 40 MW(th) materials testing reactor that France had built for Iraq at the Tuwaitha research centre south of Baghdad and which the French had originally named

‘OSIRAQ’. The reactor was not yet in operation. France had delivered only

12.3 kg of 93% enriched uranium, half the first load of fuel assemblies. The fuel was stored separately from the reactor in the pond of another facility —

Tamuz 2 — a low power (500 kW(th)) French built research reactor used for

Tamuz 1 core configuration experiments, which was located in the building immediately adjoining the Tamuz 1 complex. The Israeli air raid destroyed


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 8

Tamuz 1, but Tamuz 2 and the enriched uranium it contained were left unscathed. Before the attack, the Tamuz 1 fuel assemblies had been used to fuel Tamuz 2 for a short period and had consequently become radioactive.

This had rendered the 12.3 kg high enriched uranium contained in the fuel assemblies hazardous to handle in the absence of a dedicated reprocessing facility.

Uranium enriched to 93% can be used directly in a nuclear weapon.

However, SAGSI, the IAEA’s safeguards advisory group, estimated in 1977 that a ‘beginner’ country would need about twice the amount France had delivered, or 25 kg of uranium enriched to about 90% or more, to make its first bomb.


Reactors fuelled with high enriched uranium produce an insignificant amount of plutonium in the reactor fuel itself. To justify the attack Israel contended that Iraq nevertheless planned to use the reactor to make an arsenal of plutonium weapons. Israeli spokesmen also argued that it was crucially important to strike before the reactor went critical, since if its contents were blown apart later, radioactive debris might fall on Baghdad. They circulated an informal paper depicting the elaborate plan that they claimed the Iraqis would follow to produce the plutonium. The Israelis alleged that between the visits of IAEA inspectors the Iraqi operators would surround the core of the reactor with a blanket of natural uranium. The blanket would be put in place as soon as the inspectors had left and removed just before they returned for the next inspection. While the blanket was in place the reactor would be run at full capacity, building up plutonium in the blanket.


When sufficient plutonium had accumulated in the blanket the Iraqis would remove and reprocess it to separate the plutonium.

The Israelis had learned that the IAEA was inspecting the reactor only twice a year. This inspection frequency was considered adequate by the IAEA as long as only half the fuel had been delivered to the reactor. But once France had delivered the full 25 kg of 93% enriched uranium to Tamuz 1 it would have become theoretically possible for Iraq to make a bomb (and to do so relatively quickly). The IAEA would then inspect the reactor more frequently and indeed envisaged doing so every two weeks.


According to Professor Hans Gruemm, the head of the IAEA’s Department of Safeguards at that time, the Israeli scenario was seriously flawed, and not only in its assumption that the IAEA would continue to inspect the reactor only twice a year. Surrounding the core with a natural uranium blanket would have required the installation of conspicuous hardware easily visible


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A to the IAEA’s inspectors. The Israeli scenario would also have required the

Iraqi operators to make numerous movements of the components of the blanket that would have been detected by IAEA inspectors and by the automatic surveillance cameras which were to be installed at the reactor. To produce enough plutonium for one or two bombs a year, France would have had to supply several cores of new fuel a year. Moreover, the French authorities disclosed (after the Israeli attack) that their agreement with Iraq provided for a joint French–Iraqi committee to direct a ten-year research programme for the reactor and for French engineers to remain at the reactor for several years.

In the author’s view, despite the Israeli scenario, any Iraqi attempt to produce a significant quantity of plutonium would have been detected, not only because, according to Professor Gruemm, the IAEA planned a substantial increase in inspection frequency, but also because of the French–Iraqi joint research programme. However, with hindsight, it is obvious that the Iraqi

Government did plan to make the bomb. Israeli suspicions of Iraqi intentions may have been further sharpened by the fact that Iraq had imported large quantities of yellow cake which could have been processed to provide the natural uranium for the blanket that, according to the Israeli scenario, was to be placed around the reactor core, and by the fact that Iraq had bought hot cells from Italy (which it later used for the clandestine separation of small quantities of plutonium). It is obvious that the French authorities were also suspicious of Iraq’s intentions; hence the precautions that the French took to make it difficult for the Iraqi operators to tamper with the fuel for Tamuz 1

(irradiation of the first half of Tamuz 1’s fuel, to be inserted into the reactor before the second half arrived, and the joint French–Iraqi research programme).


A critical observer would also question the wisdom of providing such a powerful and sophisticated reactor to a country that had virtually no civilian use for it. This was not, however, a question that the IAEA Secretariat had the authority to raise.

The inspectors that the IAEA had chosen for Iraq and that Iraq had accepted under the procedure for designating inspectors

99 may have only worked by the book, but even if they had been much more curious it is doubtful whether they would have been much the wiser about what was going on at the Tuwaitha centre. The site was very large, the reactors and the associated facilities under safeguards as well as the entrance to the reactor site, were at one end of the centre and much of the rest of the centre, where important parts of the Iraqi nuclear weapon programme were carried out, was hidden by a large berm — a high earthen dike — which was an internal extension of


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 8 the berm that surrounded the entire centre. Only by flying over the site at a low altitude would it have been possible to obtain a picture of the extensive operations under way.


The IAEA Secretariat’s deployment of its limited number of inspectors was perhaps defensible before Tamuz 1 came into operation. Taking into account the highly enriched fuel that the USSR had supplied for a small

Soviet research reactor, Iraq had enough material in 1980 and 1981 for a single weapon, i.e. enough to permit 4–12 inspections a year (or even 26, according to Professor Gruemm’s article, while the fuel was not irradiated) and not the two that were being made. However, the IAEA calculated the frequency of its inspections in Iraq on the basis of the amount of nuclear material in each reactor rather than the total amount and characteristics of nuclear material in that country. To an observer, this did not make sense politically — a country wishing to make a nuclear weapon as quickly as it could would use all the fissile material available to it, irrespective whether it was in one reactor or divided amongst two or more reactors or stores. Such an ‘abrupt’ diversion of all high enriched uranium in the State would, of course, have been detected at the next inspection.

In fact, according to reports that emerged 14 years later (in 1995), this is precisely what the Iraqi Government had planned to do in the form of a ‘crash programme’ when it was under duress during the 1991 Gulf War.

Immediately after the IAEA had carried out one of its twice a year inspections the Iraqi Government had apparently planned to divert and re-enrich the

Soviet supplied uranium (which was somewhat less highly enriched than the

French), then meld it with the French uranium and make a single nuclear warhead or explosive device. For a number of reasons the scenario was implausible, but it did underline the desirability of taking account of all fissile material in a State when determining the frequency of IAEA inspections. This issue is re-examined in the section ‘The challenge of Iraq’.

1 9 8 1 : S t r e n g t h e n i n g s a f e g u a r d s a t n u c l e a r p o w e r p l a n t s i n P a k i s t a n a n d I n d i a

In September 1981, the Director General was obliged, for the first time, to inform the Board of Governors that the IAEA was unable to verify that nuclear fuel was not being diverted from safeguarded nuclear plants.




H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A plants were identified as a CANDU reactor in India and the Kanupp (Karachi

Nuclear Power Plant) reactor in Pakistan, both under IAEA safeguards.

For the first few years of its operation Kanupp used Canadian fuel which had come under IAEA safeguards before it left Canada. The IAEA therefore knew at that time precisely how much uranium was being shipped from Canada to be loaded into Kanupp.


However, Pakistan was now able to provide its own fuel and, unless additional safeguards measures were applied, the IAEA would not be able independently to verify — to know with a reasonable degree of assurance — how much fuel was being loaded into and irradiated in Kanupp. Pakistan objected, however, to the additional safeguards measures proposed by the IAEA on the grounds that they were not foreseen in the safeguards agreement covering the Kanupp reactor.


In his statement to the Board concerning Pakistan’s unwillingness to accept additional safeguards, the Director General stressed that he was not reporting a breach of a safeguards agreement. Nonetheless, his report caused a stir and brought pressure on Islamabad, and on India where a similar problem had arisen. In due course both governments reached agreement with the IAEA

Secretariat on additional safeguards and in June 1982, nine months after the

Director General had first raised the matter in the Board, he was able to inform the Board that: “In these two cases there has been significant progress since the end of 1982 and the technical safeguards measures implemented at the plants in question now enable the Agency once more to perform effective verification.”


S a f e g u a r d s i n n u c l e a r w e a p o n S t a t e s :

B r e a k t h r o u g h s i n t h e U S S R a n d C h i n a

In June 1982, at the United Nations Second Special Session on Disarmament (UNSSOD), Andrei Gromyko, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the

USSR, announced that the Soviet Union was ready to place certain nuclear plants under IAEA safeguards.


This signalled the beginning of an important change in Soviet policy. Until then the Soviet Union had usually rejected any proposal that would have permitted foreign inspectors into its territories, claiming that they would simply serve as a cloak for Western espionage or, in the case of IAEA inspectors, that applying safeguards in a nuclear weapon

State made no contribution to non-proliferation. There had been some exceptions. The Soviet Union’s counterproposal to the Baruch Plan had implied some willingness to accept international inspection but, like the Baruch Plan


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 8 itself, the Soviet proposals were submerged by the Cold War. During the discussions of a comprehensive test ban treaty in the 1970s, the Soviet Union had been prepared to accept a limited number of inspections per year, but after

President Reagan’s election victory in November 1980, President Carter had suspended US participation in these discussions, and in 1982 Reagan had formally terminated US involvement. Now, in the same year, the Soviet

Union was volunteering for the first time to accept IAEA safeguards, in other words, to accept regular on-site inspection of Soviet nuclear plants by non-Soviet citizens. This was the first harbinger of an eventual movement towards a number of disarmament initiatives including the Intermediate-

Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks and the

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. In May 1983, the IAEA began negotiation of the safeguards agreement with the USSR and on 10 June 1985, the

IAEA–USSR agreement entered into force.


As noted, in 1988 China also concluded an agreement to implement its offer to place certain of its nuclear plants under IAEA safeguards; the agreement entered into force on 18 September 1989.

N u c l e a r s u b m a r i n e s

In the 1960s, when the NPT was being negotiated, it was reported that

Italy was planning to build a nuclear powered naval tender and that the

Dutch navy was interested in building nuclear submarines. Since the IAEA would not be allowed to inspect warships (and it was doubtful whether it had the authority do so under its Statute) it was agreed that safeguards in NPT non-nuclear-weapon States would apply only to nuclear material ‘in peaceful nuclear activities’. These States were prohibited from acquiring or seeking to acquire nuclear explosive devices of any kind but, as we have noted, they could use nuclear material for non-explosive military purposes such as the engines of warships.

It was generally recognized that this was a serious loophole in the safeguards prescribed by the Treaty. A State might simply refuse access to IAEA inspectors, claiming that the material they wanted to inspect was destined for a naval reactor, or that the reactor they wanted to look at was the prototype of a submarine engine. The Director General had drawn the attention of the

Safeguards Committee (1970) to the problem. The Secretariat had done its best to block the loophole by proposing several conditions to the Committee



(which it accepted and incorporated into INFCIRC/153) that the State concerned would have to comply with before withdrawing nuclear material from safeguards for non-explosive military use.


For nearly 20 years nothing more was heard of the Italian and Dutch plans, nor of any other proposals by nonnuclear-weapon States to build nuclear propelled naval vessels. It appeared that the loophole in the NPT was becoming a dead letter. In 1987, however, the Canadian Government made the surprising announcement that it planned to acquire a flotilla of nuclear submarines and to spend several billion dollars in doing so. The announcement was all the more surprising coming from a strong supporter of the NPT, of IAEA safeguards and of non-proliferation in general. In fact, Canada was the only nation, in the late 1940s and 1950s, that had access to the technology and the material needed to obtain plutonium for a nuclear weapon and had deliberately refrained from doing so.

Seeing the possibility of very lucrative contracts, the United Kingdom,

France and the USA appeared to be ready to overlook the repercussions that the first use of the loophole in the NPT might have on the credibility of IAEA safeguards, and appeared eager to provide Canada with its nuclear flotilla or the reactors and fuel it would need. However, in 1989 the Canadian Government had second thoughts and abandoned the project.

Since then, and indeed before then, there have been reports, from time to time, that Brazil and India, neither of which was party to the NPT, were planning to build nuclear submarines. In the 1980s, the Brazilian navy is said to have operated an unsafeguarded enrichment plant, while the Soviet Union leased an old nuclear submarine to India, reportedly to train an Indian submarine crew. It appears that these plans have not made significant progress since then. All nuclear material in Brazil has been placed under IAEA safeguards in accordance with the safeguards agreement concluded between

Argentina, Brazil, ABACC and the IAEA, but that agreement still leaves the

‘submarine loophole’ open.

T h e c h a l l e n g e o f I r a q

In 1990, when Iraq invaded Kuwait, Iraqi scientists had been operating a small (5 MW(th)) research reactor that the Soviet Union had supplied in the



The reactor’s high enriched uranium fuel had been under IAEA safeguards since February 1972 when Iraq’s NPT safeguards agreement came into force.


Another stock of high enriched uranium was also under IAEA


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 8 safeguards, namely the fuel supplied by France for the large (40 MW(th))

‘OSIRAQ’ reactor that Israel destroyed in 1981. There were certain other nuclear materials under safeguards at the Tuwaitha nuclear centre near

Baghdad, including depleted uranium supplied by Germany and some 30% enriched and low enriched uranium.


Before the Gulf War there were reports that Iraq had also obtained from abroad (chiefly Germany) several components of a plant to manufacture gas centrifuges to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons, and components of the centrifuges themselves. It was widely assumed that Iraq would take several years to master gas centrifugation, a very demanding technology. In the early months of 1991, however, a defecting Iraqi scientist made the seemingly incredible claim that Iraq was clandestinely developing another technology for enriching uranium; namely, electromagnetic isotope separation, a technology the USA had initially used during the Second World War but had subsequently abandoned in favour of the more efficient and economical gaseous diffusion process.


T h e i n v a s i o n o f K u w a i t a n d i t s c o n s e q u e n c e s

On 2 August 1990, Iraq invaded and began the annexation of Kuwait.

This act of aggression was the culmination of a territorial dispute whose origins lay in the history of the Ottoman Empire, in Kuwait’s semiautonomous status in that Empire, and the creation of Iraq after the First

World War. The United Nations Security Council promptly condemned the invasion and during the months that followed the Council adopted two key resolutions:

— Resolution 661 of 6 August 1990, which imposed sanctions on Iraq;

— Resolution 678 of 29 November 1990, which authorized “all necessary means” to evict Iraq from Kuwait.

Under US leadership a ‘United Nations Coalition’ was rapidly established to confront the Iraqi aggression. After building up its forces and allowing for last minute diplomatic efforts to defuse the crisis, the Coalition began aerial bombardment of Kuwait and Iraq on 16 January 1991 and launched a ground offensive on 24 February 1991. The Coalition suspended offensive combat operations on 27 February 1991, having successfully evicted Iraqi forces from Kuwait.



In the immediate aftermath of the conflict, the Security Council passed three further key resolutions:

— Resolution 687 of 3 April 1991, which defined the post-Gulf-War mission that the IAEA was invited to undertake in relation to Iraq’s nuclear activities and potential. At the same time the Council established the

United Nations Special Commission — UNSCOM — with a similar mandate in relation to Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons and missiles above a specified range and throw weight;

— Resolution 707 of 15 August 1991, which demanded that Iraq comply with the obligations it undertook when it accepted Resolution 687 on

6 April 1991, and that it make a “full, final and complete disclosure” of all aspects of its nuclear programme;

— Resolution 715 of 11 October 1991, by which the Council accepted the

IAEA’s plan for future continuous monitoring and verification in Iraq.

T h e I A E A ’ s m i s s i o n s u n d e r R e s o l u t i o n 6 8 7

Resolution 687 assigned to the IAEA several missions in Iraq:

— To carry out “immediate on-site inspection of Iraq’s nuclear capabilities”;

— To develop a plan “for the destruction, removal, or rendering harmless” of Iraq’s “nuclear weapons or nuclear-weapon-usable materials or any subsystems or components or any research, development, support or manufacturing facilities related to...” either the weapons or the nuclear weapon usable materials. In addition, the resolution invited the Agency to take Iraq’s nuclear weapon usable materials into custody for eventual removal. The IAEA was also asked to confirm that all nuclear material and nuclear activities in Iraq had been brought under its safeguards to develop a plan for “future ongoing monitoring and verification of its

[Iraq’s] compliance” with its undertakings not to use, develop, construct or acquire any of the proscribed items.

T h e I A E A ’ s p r i v i l e g e s a n d i m m u n i t i e s i n I r a q

In May 1991, in an exchange of letters with Rolf Ekeus, the Executive

Chairman of UNSCOM, Iraq agreed that the IAEA’s inspectors would have the rights set forth in the relevant conventions of the United Nations and the


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 8 specialized agencies. They would also have a unique and far-reaching series of additional rights; for instance, they would have:

— Unrestricted freedom of entry into and exit from Iraq and unrestricted freedom of movement in Iraq, without prior notification to the Iraqi authorities;

— Unrestricted access to Iraqi facilities;

— Authority to request, receive, examine and copy or remove records, data, information and photographs;

— Authority to designate any site for observation, inspection or monitoring;

— Authority to take samples, to photograph and to videotape.

These privileges and immunities proved to be essential for the fulfilment of the IAEA’s missions in Iraq.

T h e I A E A ’ s A c t i o n Te a m

Director General Blix immediately established an ‘Action Team’ to carry out the IAEA’s mission under his direction, and appointed Maurizio

Zifferero, a former IAEA Deputy Director General, to lead the Team.



Action Team was not incorporated into the IAEA’s Department of Safeguards, but reported directly to Blix, and the work that the IAEA undertook in Iraq was not regarded as the application of safeguards under Iraq’s NPT agreement with the IAEA, but as a special operation carried out under the authority of the Security Council’s resolutions.

The Action Team carried out 32 inspections in Iraq from 15 May 1991 until

1996, namely eight in 1991, and eight again in 1992, six in 1993, six in 1994, two in 1995, and two in 1996. In August 1994, the Action Team established a permanent presence in Iraq, namely the ‘Nuclear Monitoring Group’. This enabled the IAEA to decrease the number of inspection missions sent from Vienna and increase local inspection and make it more pervasive and methodical.

The Team carried out its work according to an IAEA plan which the

Security Council approved on 11 October 1991 in Resolution 715. In accordance with this plan the IAEA’s task would be:

— To discover all forbidden elements of the Iraqi programme. The IAEA was to ascertain the full extent of Iraq’s past nuclear programme and, in so doing, verify the accuracy and completeness of the “full, final, and complete disclosure” of that programme that Iraq was required to make.



— To destroy or remove or render harmless all the forbidden elements of Iraq’s programme. This involved, for instance, destroying facilities built for forbidden purposes, shipping all nuclear weapon usable material out of Iraq and placing all critically important machine tools under IAEA seals.

— To arrange for the continued monitoring and verification of Iraq’s activities. This included continuing inspection of sites declared by

Iraq to have been associated with the former programme, interviews with Iraqi engineers and scientists to verify their current employment, and taking and analysing environmental samples for evidence of nuclear activities.

No term was set for the completion of the IAEA’s mission in Iraq.

U n v e i l i n g I r a q ’ s c l a n d e s t i n e n u c l e a r w e a p o n p r o g r a m m e

Relations between Iraq and the IAEA passed through four phases. Until

September 1991, Iraq consistently attempted to deny access to IAEA inspectors.

From then until November 1993, Iraq generally did not physically impede inspections, but failed to provide accurate accounts of its prohibited programmes and refused to accept “on-going monitoring and verification”.

From November 1993 until August 1995, Iraq co-operated in establishing the mechanisms for ongoing monitoring but still failed to disclose fully the extent of its prohibited programmes. The fourth phase began in August 1995 with the defection of General Hussein Kamel to Jordan and Iraq’s disclosure of a vast cache of documents that Kamel had purportedly stored at the ‘Haidar

House Farm’. The Iraqi authorities turned the documents over to the IAEA.

In June 1991, when IAEA inspectors arrived at previously designated sites, the Iraqi authorities denied them access. However, the inspectors observed that the Iraqis were loading lorries with components of electromagnetic isotope separation devices and carrying them off. (The Action Team subsequently recovered these components.) This inspection thus confirmed that Iraq had engaged in an extensive uranium enrichment programme. The inspectors also discovered a small quantity of separated plutonium. Neither the enrichment programme nor the plutonium had been referred to in the supposedly “full, final and complete” declaration that Iraq had made about its programme on 18 April 1991.


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 8

In September 1991, Iraq confiscated a number of documents that had been seized by an IAEA inspection team led by David Kay, the Agency’s chief inspector for the sixth mission in Iraq. When the inspectors refused to turn over other documents, they were compelled to stay in a parking lot for four days. The documents seized during this inspection provided a much fuller picture of the Iraqi nuclear programme and demonstrated once again that

Iraq’s “full disclosure” had been neither full nor complete.

The seven inspections that the IAEA had carried out by the end of

October 1991 revealed that Iraq had undertaken three separate clandestine programmes to enrich uranium using chemical exchange and a gas centrifuge as well as electromagnetic isotope separation techniques. The inspections also provided conclusive evidence of a programme designed to produce implosiontype nuclear weapons. It was also clearly linked with work on surface to surface missiles. In Ekeus’ first report to the Security Council he estimated that within as little as 12–18 months Iraq could have had sufficient fissile material for a nuclear device, and noted the “failure of Iraq, particularly in the nuclear field, to adopt the candid and open approach to the disclosure of its capabilities.”

On 12 March 1992, Iraq provided Blix with a revision of its “full, final and complete disclosure” and provided yet another version on 5 June 1992, but the IAEA found both documents inadequate.

In August, September and November 1992, the Action Team carried out a radiometric/hydrological survey of Iraq’s main bodies of fresh water

(rivers, lakes and canals) which provided a baseline for twice yearly sampling of the water bodies, designed to detect isotopic evidence of the existence of any undeclared nuclear facility. By the end of 1996, no such evidence had been found.


By mid-June 1993, the IAEA had inspected 75 sites. These confirmed the picture that the Action Team had perceived in 1991 of broad based programmes for enriching uranium and for producing nuclear weapons.

However, it still remained doubtful whether the picture was complete.

By September 1994, the IAEA had carried out 26 inspections in Iraq totalling more than 2500 inspector-days and comprising 634 visits to 151 sites.

The inspectors and support staff had come from 35 nations. The results achieved were significant:

— The IAEA had pieced together a reasonably complete picture of Iraq’s vast clandestine nuclear programme which, apparently, had begun in




— The second task assigned to the IAEA by Resolution 687 was also well in hand. The Action Team had supervised the systematic destruction of forbidden facilities, technical buildings and equipment, including over

1900 individual items, 600 tonnes of special alloys and buildings with a surface area of some 32 500 square metres. Iraq could no longer produce material for use in nuclear weapons nor the weapons themselves. The nuclear weapon usable materials under IAEA safeguards in Iraq before the Gulf War had been found untouched and had been removed from

Iraq. In addition, the fissile material clandestinely produced by Iraq, including a few grams of separated plutonium, had been shipped abroad.

— By the end of 1996, the IAEA’s “ongoing monitoring and verification” included periodic radiometric surveys of Iraq’s main surface water bodies, routine no-notice inspections of relevant industrial plants, the use of video equipment for the surveillance of critical dual use equipment and a significant permanent presence in Iraq.

Analysis of the documents seized in 1991 and those handed over to the

IAEA in August 1995 increased confidence in the accuracy of the IAEA’s assessment of the clandestine programme, and provided the means to verify independently many of Iraq’s declarations. They provided a wealth of information regarding the following areas:

— Iraq’s use of electromagnetic isotope separation to produce enriched uranium;

— Chemical enrichment by liquid–liquid extraction and solid–liquid ion exchange;

— Gaseous diffusion enrichment;

— Research aimed at lithium-6 production;

— Design of facilities to handle large amounts of tritium;

— Weaponization (knowledge, techniques, technologies and engineering activities required to construct a nuclear explosive device capable of being delivered to a target and achieving a nuclear yield, assuming that the needed fissile material is available);

— Organizational structure of ‘Petrochemical Project 3’ (PC3) — the front organization in charge of Iraq’s covert programme;

— Identification of eight specific sites associated with PC3 activities;

— Procurement and foreign suppliers;


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 8

— Details of the ‘crash programme’ in which Iraq had planned to use the enriched fuel of the Soviet and French reactors to make a single nuclear explosive device;

— Details of the centrifuge enrichment effort, including the activities at the

Engineering Design Centre, details of the centrifuge enrichment project’s procurement network and foreign assistance.

By the end of 1996, most of the Action Team’s work consisted of ongoing monitoring and of increasing the effectiveness of such monitoring, thus enabling the IAEA to detect any indication that Iraq was reviving its nuclear programme. The IAEA was also still assessing the accuracy of Iraq’s “full, final and complete declaration”.

D i s p o s a l o f n u c l e a r m a t e r i a l

The Agency recognized that nuclear weapon usable material could not be destroyed or rendered harmless in Iraq and its first priority was to account for and ship such material out of the country. All unirradiated fuel was shipped out by the end of November 1992. The approximately six grams of plutonium discovered by the inspectors in 1991 were removed from Iraq by the end of November of that year.

By mid-June 1993, all the nuclear materials under safeguards before the

Gulf War had been accounted for. The only known nuclear weapon usable material remaining in Iraq was the high enriched uranium in irradiated reactor fuel assemblies, which were under IAEA seal until they could be removed from the country.

By the end of February 1994, all known remaining high enriched uranium fuel had been shipped to Russia, where it would be reprocessed.


The nuclear material remaining in Iraq consisted of depleted, natural and low enriched uranium in sealed storage under IAEA control.


However, it had not been possible to confirm that the Iraqi declarations of unsafeguarded nuclear material were complete.

V i o l a t i o n o f t h e I A E A – I r a q s a f e g u a r d s a g r e e m e n t :

T h e f i n d i n g s o f t h e B o a r d

Iraq’s clandestine programme was clearly a massive violation of its obligations under the NPT and under its safeguards agreement, which called


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A upon it to accept IAEA safeguards “on all source or special fissionable material...within its territory, under its jurisdiction or carried out under its control anywhere.”


According to French and other estimates, the programme involved many thousands of people and, if it had been carried out in an industrialized country, it would have cost more than ten billion dollars.


On 18 July 1991, a special meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors declared that Iraq had violated its safeguards agreement with the IAEA. The

Board’s resolution was sponsored by 17 States, including the five permanent members of the Security Council, and was opposed only by the Iraqi delegation (Iraq happened to be serving on the Board). This was the first finding of a violation of an agreement since the IAEA began applying safeguards in

1959. As required by the IAEA’s Statute, the Board reported its finding to the

Security Council and General Assembly, as well as to all Member States of the


As noted, IAEA inspectors also discovered that Iraq had clandestinely separated a small amount of plutonium. In the light of this revelation, the

IAEA’s Board concluded on 11 September 1991 that Iraq was guilty of a second breach of its safeguards agreement.

On 20 September 1991, the IAEA General Conference adopted a resolution strongly condemning Iraq’s non-compliance with its non-proliferation obligations, including those contained in its safeguards agreement with the

IAEA. The resolution was adopted by 71 votes to 1 (Iraq). There were seven abstentions (Algeria, Cuba, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Namibia and Sudan).


It has been noted earlier that, after Hussein Kamel’s defection to Jordan in August 1995, the Iraqi authorities disclosed that their Government had planned a ‘crash programme’ to assemble a single nuclear explosive device.

This constituted yet another violation of the safeguards agreement. Iraq’s delay in disclosing these plans and turning over all documents and materials relating to its covert activities also violated its obligations under the relevant resolutions of the Security Council.


A further chilling finding was that Iraq had separated a small amount of lithium-6, which is used in the manufacture of hydrogen weapons.

T h e f o r m a l f i n d i n g o f t h e S e c u r i t y C o u n c i l

It was not for the IAEA to decide whether Iraq had violated its obligations as a party to the NPT. This, however, was the finding of the Security

Council on 15 August 1991. Acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 8

Charter, the Council found that Iraq had acted in violation of its obligations under the NPT and that its breach of the Treaty constituted a threat to peace and international security.


The decision also created a precedent, namely of the Security Council serving as the international body to determine whether a party had violated the NPT. In a sense the Council thus became the guardian of the Treaty, but, as we shall see, it was more hesitant in fulfilling this role two years later in the case of the Democratic People’s Republic of

Korea (DPRK, or North Korea).

T h e i m p l i c a t i o n s f o r I A E A s a f e g u a r d s o f I r a q ’ s c o v e r t p r o g r a m m e

In July 1991, Dr. Blix, referring to the IAEA’s experience in Iraq, told the

IAEA Board of Governors:

“...I conclude that the lesson to be learnt from the present case is that a high degree of assurance can be obtained that the Agency can uncover clandestine nuclear activities if three major conditions are fulfilled: first that access is provided to information obtained, inter alia through national technical means, regarding sites that may require inspection; second, that access to any such sites, even at short notice, is an unequivocal right of the Agency; and third, that access to the Security Council is available for backing and support that may be necessary to perform the inspection.”


The background to Blix’s conclusion that “...access to any such [suspect] sites, even at short notice, is an unequivocal right of the Agency” was that, in

Iraq, the safeguards that the IAEA had applied during routine inspections had been adequate to verify that there had been no significant diversion of nuclear material from the declared Iraqi programme.


However, routine

inspections of declared material and plants did not and could not detect Iraq’s clandestine programmes, which had made no use of nuclear material that

Iraq had declared to the Agency under its safeguards agreement.


A hitherto unused set of provisions permitting unrestricted access, included in all comprehensive NPT safeguards agreements, gave authority to the IAEA to carry out special inspections at additional locations in the State concerned,

124 if the IAEA considered that the information provided by the State was “...not adequate for the Agency to fulfil its responsibilities under the agreement”


— for instance if the IAEA believed that the State was hiding


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A material that should be placed under safeguards, and the IAEA could therefore not fulfil its obligation under paragraph 2 of the standard agreement

“ ensure that safeguards will be applied...on all source or special fissionable material...within the territory of the State, under its jurisdiction, or carried out under its control anywhere...” The agreements set no limits to the

IAEA’s access when it carried out such special inspections; in such circumstances the inspectors would have access to any place in the State concerned. In effect, this reflected Article XII.A.6 of the IAEA Statute under which IAEA inspectors “...have access at all times to all places and data...”

Before it carried out a special inspection at an additional location, the

IAEA would have to get the agreement of the State concerned. However, if the State refused, the Board could order the State to admit the inspectors forthwith.


If the State again refused the Board could and, in all probability, would report to the Security Council, the General Assembly and all the IAEA

Member States that “...the Agency is not able to verify that there has been no diversion...”


Until the Gulf War the IAEA had no occasion to make special inspections at ‘additional’ locations. If the IAEA were to make use of such inspections in the future, they could enable it to detect the presence of undeclared material (or undeclared plants for which no design information had been submitted to the IAEA). Or, if the State refused the inspection, it would ipso facto incriminate itself. This was what was soon to happen in the DPRK.

Even the widest powers of inspection would be of little avail unless the

IAEA knew where to look. But a UN agency cannot operate like a secret service.

How could the IAEA be put on the track of a suspect activity? Improving the flow of unclassified data to the IAEA and of the IAEA’s own processing and analysis of such data, would be useful, but the IAEA should also have access to relevant data gathered by ‘national technical means’, including satellites.

Until 1991, governments had been loath to provide intelligence data to any international organization for fear of disclosing sources or of revealing the detection capability of their satellites. In the case of Iraq, the USA accepted this risk when it told the UN Commission and the IAEA where to look for suspect plants. It was to do so again in the case of the DPRK.

In Chapter 3 it was noted that, in the mid-1950s, the negotiators of the

Statute foresaw that in applying its safeguards the IAEA might need direct access to the Security Council, and that negotiators had put in place the legal basis for such access.


The relevant clauses of the Statute were activated for the first time (in both directions) by the Gulf War. Whether the Council would


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 8 give its backing and support to future special inspections to locations not declared by the State concerned would depend chiefly on whether the five permanent members of the Council could maintain the cohesion they forged in dealing with Iraqi aggression. This cohesion was later put to the test in the case of the DPRK.

H o w l o n g w o u l d I r a q h a v e n e e d e d t o m a k e n u c l e a r w e a p o n s ?

Did the Gulf War prevent the emergence of another nuclear weapon

State? Rolf Ekeus estimated in 1991 that within as little as 12–18 months Iraq could have had sufficient fissile material for a nuclear device. However, any such estimate is subject to a wide range of uncertainties, each of which could be a factor for delay. The uncertainties include, for instance, whether the two electromagnetic isotope separation plants that Iraq was completing, and their numerous auxiliary facilities, would have been able to operate at full planned capacity and without breakdown from the first day of operation, whether there would have been adequate feedstock and other materials needed by the plants, and whether the electricity supply would have been adequate and reliable. Related questions were whether during those

12–18 months, Iraq would have mastered the technology of making nuclear explosives and the means of manufacturing and detonating them at their designed yield, and would have acquired effective means of delivery. Being able to produce fissile material would have been crucial for Iraq’s progress towards a nuclear arsenal, but not, by itself, enough to make it a de facto nuclear weapon State.

A group of nuclear weapon designers from the USA, Russia, the United

Kingdom and France met at IAEA Headquarters in April 1992 to examine the documents that, by that date, IAEA inspectors had collected in Iraq.

According to a press report, the weapon experts concluded that the Iraqi

Government “...faced such significant bottlenecks that [it] was at least three years and possibly more from acquiring [its] first crude nuclear weapon.”


There was, however, no escaping the fact that the first breach of an

IAEA safeguards agreement had been by the use of unsuspected and unwatched clandestine plants, and not by diverting declared material and cheating the IAEA’s material accountancy. The IAEA was seen by many as having failed its (presumably) first diversion detection test; it had patently been unable to detect a large and longstanding undeclared programme.



Without the Gulf War, the IAEA might not have discovered the programme until the Iraqi Government openly demonstrated that it had acquired the bomb.


While this judgement would have been unduly harsh — the

Director General, his staff, the Action Team and the Board of Governors acted swiftly and decisively and dealt effectively with a new and unforeseen challenge — there was no doubt that a fundamental review and redirection of the existing IAEA safeguards system was essential. It is to the credit of the

IAEA that this review was promptly undertaken and first applied in the case of the DPRK. The Iraqi experience also led eventually to the redirection of

IAEA safeguards undertaken from 1993 to 1997 in ‘Programme 93 + 2’.

O t h e r l e s s o n s f r o m t h e G u l f W a r a n d i t s a f t e r m a t h

It has been noted that the IAEA safeguards guidelines assume that a

‘beginner’ State would require 25 kilograms of uranium (enriched to more than 90% in uranium-235) or 8 kilograms of plutonium (plutonium-239) to make its first nuclear weapon. These are defined as a ‘significant quantity’, the absence of which safeguards should have ‘a high probability’ of detecting.


Iraq’s total holdings of high enriched uranium were more than 25 kilograms, but they were distributed between two separate reactors. However, as already noted, the frequency of the IAEA’s inspections was geared to the quantity of material in a particular plant and did not take account of the total amount in the country or even in a particular nuclear centre. The amount of material in each of the two reactors at the Tuwaitha centre was less than a significant quantity, and in each case some or all of the fuel had been irradiated.

Presumably this explains why there were only two inspections each year in

Iraq, although the reactors were in the same centre and their fuel could have been amalgamated to provide enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon — as the Iraqi authorities planned to do in the crash programme whose existence came to light only in 1995. It should be noted, however, that the distribution of fissile material that occurred in Iraq in the 1980s was or is found in only a few other centres and the IAEA has increased inspection frequency in these cases.


If the total amount of safeguarded material in a country, or at least in one of its research centres, amounts to a significant quantity — in other words, is enough to make a bomb — should not this determine the minimum number of inspections in that country? This would have meant at least four inspections a year in Iraq in the years before the Gulf War.


This might not


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 8 have enabled the IAEA to detect undeclared activities, but it would have enabled the IAEA to detect, within three months instead of six, any Iraqi attempt to carry out the planned crash programme.

Another way of increasing inspection frequency would be to substantially reduce the amount of high enriched uranium and plutonium defined as a ‘significant quantity’. The present values are derived from a UN study of the mid-1960s and it is widely believed that, today, nations with a moderately sophisticated nuclear programme could produce smaller nuclear explosive devices with smaller amounts of plutonium or high enriched uranium.


Reducing the significant quantities might have increased the inspection frequency in countries such as Iraq from twice a year to as much as once a month. Changing the definition would, of course, have effects throughout the safeguards operations in all countries in which safeguards are applied and it would also have significant budgetary consequences. It would also make it more difficult for the IAEA to attain its technical goal of being able to detect in a timely fashion the diversion of a significant quantity of nuclear material.


There are, no doubt, still more lessons of the Gulf War that have to be studied. One is already clear. The problems that the IAEA and the NPT regime faced in Iraq were not unique to nuclear non-proliferation. Any other global arms control or disarmament treaty, for instance the Chemical Weapons

Convention, the Biological Weapons Convention and the Comprehensive Test

Ban Treaty, could run into similar problems.

The Iraqi case showed that a determined and authoritarian State with very large financial resources and a skilled and dedicated nuclear establishment could defy its obligations under the NPT and evade detection for many years. This evasion may have been helped by the fact that, during the

Iran–Iraq war, Western governments tended to tilt towards Iraq, which also received support from the Soviet Union. Whether the clandestine programme would have remained undetected, once the large electromagnetic isotope separation plants went into full production, is an open question. So, too, is the question of the uniqueness of Iraq’s circumstances — its internal political structure, its technical and financial resources and its regional and international political environment. What is not open to question is that, even if the physical aspects of the Iraqi programme have been completely eliminated, it nevertheless left Iraqi scientists and engineers with an invaluable store of practical knowledge about the production and processing of fissile material and the construction of a nuclear warhead.




The world is unlikely ever to have a completely effective non-proliferation regime or safeguards that are completely foolproof. That is, of course, no reason for taking safeguards out of the hands of the IAEA as some suggested after the Gulf War; rather it underlines the continuing need to strengthen the regime and to enhance the efficacy of the IAEA’s operation, as the IAEA has sought to do in its ‘Programme 93 + 2’ which will shortly be described.

T h e 1 9 9 2 I A E A – E U R A T O M p a r t n e r s h i p a p p r o a c h

In carrying out the 1973 IAEA–EURATOM safeguards agreement

(INFCIRC/193), there had been much friction between the two agencies and unnecessary duplication of work. In 1977, the two agencies agreed to use

‘joint teams’ of IAEA and EURATOM inspectors to inspect plants handling sensitive nuclear materials in bulk form such as liquids, gases and powders in the expectation that this would obviate unnecessary duplication of work, but this had not been the result. One of the tenets of the 1973 agreement was that the IAEA would inspect a plant in a EURATOM non-nuclear-weapon

State substantially less frequently than a similar plant in a non-EURATOM non-nuclear-weapon State.


In practice the opposite had often happened.

For instance, at an informal safeguards meeting convened by Director

General Blix in the early 1990s, it was disclosed that the amount and frequency of inspection at a particular fuel fabrication plant in the European

Union was at least three times that at a similar plant in Japan.

In some cases — though not in this particular instance — this waste of effort was due to the ‘theological’ attachment of both agencies to certain safeguards doctrines, for instance that there must be no delegation of responsibility by one agency to the other, which meant that each must have its own inspectors present at each task undertaken during an inspection.

In 1992, the IAEA Director General and the Commissioner responsible for nuclear energy in the European Union signed an agreement for a ‘new partnership approach’

138 in implementing the 1973 agreement. The new approach set aside both the previously agreed ‘principle of observation’

139 and the concept of ‘joint teams’. These were replaced by new co-operative arrangements, one of which was the rule of ‘one job, one person’ — if the verification of a particular activity required the presence of two inspectors, one person from each agency would do the job, provided that each organization would still be


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 8 able to draw its own independent conclusion (as to whether all nuclear material remained under safeguards or was satisfactorily accounted for).


The two agencies also agreed to co-operate in research and training, to make use of each other’s laboratories and other resources, and to make more use of techniques that do not require the physical presence of inspectors. The

IAEA expected that the new agreement would enable it to reduce the amount of routine inspection in the non-nuclear-weapon States of the European

Union by one half to two thirds.

There has, in fact, been a substantial reduction in the amount of IAEA inspection in the States concerned. From 1991 to 1995, the total number of person-days that inspectors spent in these countries declined from about

3000 to 1200, of which about 700, according to estimates provided by the

Secretariat, were, however, attributable to the closing of some large nuclear plants.


Even before the agreement on the partnership approach, the 1989 decision to abandon the construction of its large reprocessing plant at

Wackersdorf in Bavaria may have caused much regret in the German nuclear industry, but it substantially reduced forecasts of the amount of IAEA inspection in the EURATOM non-nuclear-weapon States. In the mid-1990s, the abandonment of plans to produce MOX fuel at Hanau presumably had a similar effect.


T h e D P R K ’ s v i o l a t i o n o f i t s

N P T s a f e g u a r d s a g r e e m e n t w i t h t h e I A E A

On 12 December 1985, the DPRK acceded to the NPT. It has been widely reported that the USSR made such accession a condition for the supply of the

Soviet power reactors that the DPRK was anxious to obtain as a first step in a nuclear power programme. (The Soviet power reactors did not materialize.)


Article III.4 of the NPT stipulates that a non-nuclear-weapon State acceding to the Treaty must bring into force a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the IAEA not later than 18 months after its accession. Despite mounting criticism, especially at the 1990 conference on the review of the

NPT, but also at meetings of the IAEA, the DPRK took no action to fulfil this requirement — on the contrary it attempted to set a number of political conditions before it would conclude the agreement. Finally, on 10 April 1992, nearly five years overdue, the DPRK brought its safeguards agreement into force.




The agreement required the DPRK to send the IAEA an ‘Initial Report’ on all nuclear material to be subject to safeguards in the country.


The DPRK submitted its report on 4 May 1992. It contained some surprises. Until then the IAEA had only been officially aware of the existence of a single Soviet supplied research reactor (5 MW(th)) and a critical assembly which the DPRK had placed under IAEA safeguards in July 1977. Besides this small plant, the

Initial Report listed a 5 MW(e) graphite moderated Magnox type reactor, a fuel fabrication plant, a ‘radiochemical laboratory’ (in reality, a reprocessing plant) and two much larger Magnox reactors of 50 MW(e) and 200 MW(e) under construction. The three Magnox reactors had been or were being built by the DPRK itself. They were essentially similar to the reactors that the

United Kingdom had used in the 1950s to produce the plutonium for its first warheads and to generate its first nuclear electricity. The 50 MW(e) reactor was due for completion in 1995. It would have been able to produce as much as 40–50 kilograms of plutonium a year, enough for five to ten nuclear warheads.


The DPRK authorities also showed the IAEA a small amount of plutonium (less than 100 grams) which, they said, had been extracted from damaged fuel rods discharged from the 5 MW(e) reactor. They maintained that this plutonium was all that they had separated, and that they had conducted only a single reprocessing operation, or ‘campaign’, in 1990. The IAEA’s analyses showed, however, that there had been several reprocessing campaigns.


This implied that the DPRK had separated more plutonium than it had stated in its

Initial Report. Whether the undeclared plutonium amounted to grams or kilograms could only be ascertained after further and more probing investigations. Analysis of the waste that the DPRK provided to the IAEA showed a mismatch between it and the plutonium the DPRK had presented.

At the same time the USA provided the IAEA with satellite images showing two structures that had not been listed in the DPRK’s Initial Report.

Both were the type of facility in which nuclear waste is customarily stored. It was clear that the DPRK authorities had attempted to disguise the function of the two facilities by planting trees and using other camouflage.

If the IAEA was able to measure and analyse any nuclear waste that might be in these facilities, the analysis could shed more light on the question of how much plutonium the DPRK had actually separated. Accordingly, the

IAEA asked to visit the two facilities; the DPRK refused on the grounds that the buildings were military installations. Director General Blix then formally demanded a ‘special inspection’, a demand that was promptly rejected.




P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 8

25 February 1993, the Board formally endorsed Blix’s request and set a term of three months for the DPRK to comply. On 12 March 1993, the DPRK responded, giving notice that it intended to withdraw from the NPT. On

1 April 1993, the Board found that the DPRK was in breach of its safeguards agreement and reported the breach to the Security Council which, on 11 May, by a vote of 13 in favour, none against and two abstentions (China and

Pakistan) decided “to invite” the DPRK to fulfil its obligations under its safeguards agreement.

On 11 June 1993, one day before its notice of withdrawal from the NPT was due to take effect, the USA persuaded the DPRK to suspend the ‘effectuation’ of its withdrawal and to accept normal IAEA inspection of the seven sites it had declared in the Initial Report. But during the remainder of 1993 and the first half of 1994 the DPRK continued to frustrate and harass IAEA inspections.


In 1994, the IAEA proposed that when the irradiated fuel from the 5 MW(e) reactor was discharged it should be done in a way that would permit the IAEA to verify the history of the reactor core and thereby help solve the question whether the DPRK had separated more plutonium than it had declared. In May 1994, the DPRK rejected the IAEA’s proposal and hastily discharged the fuel in such an unstructured way as to make any historical analysis of the core virtually impossible.

On 10 June 1994, the IAEA Board of Governors decided to suspend all

IAEA technical assistance to the DPRK. The latter responded on 13 June by giving notice of its withdrawal from the Agency. On 16 June 1994, the USA proposed that the Security Council should impose a series of increasingly onerous sanctions on the DPRK. The DPRK repeated an earlier warning that sanctions would mean war. The USA declared that it would not be deterred by threats. Tension mounted.

At this stage — on 17 June 1994 — former President Jimmy Carter stepped in and went to Pyongyang to discuss the crisis with Kim Il Sung himself. Carter came back with conciliatory messages. If the USA was prepared to meet the DPRK on certain points (e.g. diplomatic recognition, an assurance that the USA would not attack the DPRK and access to US nuclear power technology), the DPRK would be prepared to refrain from refuelling the operating reactor and to refrain from reprocessing the spent fuel, perhaps stop the construction of the larger reactors, and allow the IAEA to keep its inspectors in the DPRK. Hardly had the USA responded to this overture by resuming high level discussions with the Government of the DPRK when the latter announced that Kim Il Sung was dead.



On 5 August 1994, ‘high level talks’ reopened in Geneva and on

18 October the two delegations announced that they had been able to concur in a so-called “Agreed Framework”, which they signed three days later. On

4 November 1994, the Security Council asked the IAEA to carry out the tasks assigned to it in the “Agreed Framework” and on 11 November 1994, the

IAEA Board authorized the Director General to do so.

Under the “Agreed Framework”:

— The DPRK would freeze its existing nuclear programme and accept international verification of all existing plants;

— The IAEA would verify compliance with the freeze and would continue to inspect ‘unfrozen’ activities;

— The DPRK would eventually dismantle all the ‘frozen’ plants;

— The two governments would seek methods of storing the fuel from the

5 MW(e) reactor and disposing of it in a way that “does not involve reprocessing” in the DPRK;

— The USA would put together an international consortium to arrange financing ($4 billion) for and the supply of two 1000 MW(e) light water reactors;


— Dismantling of the DPRK’s plants would be completed “when the LWR project is completed” (target date: 2003);

— The USA would arrange for the supply of heavy oil to “offset the energy foregone due to the freeze” of the DPRK’s graphite moderated reactors;

— Both nations would ease trade restrictions and move toward establishing diplomatic relations;

— The USA would provide formal assurances to the DPRK “against the threat of use of nuclear weapons by the USA”;

— The DPRK would “consistently take steps” to implement the North–

South Korean agreement on denuclearizing the peninsula;

— The DPRK would remain party to the NPT and “would allow implementation of its safeguards agreement under the Treaty”;

— When a significant portion of the light water reactor project was completed, but “before delivery of key nuclear components”, the DPRK

“will come into full compliance with its safeguards agreement...including

taking all steps that may be deemed necessary by the IAEA, following consultations with the Agency with regard to verifying the accuracy and completeness of [the DPRK‘s] Initial Report on all nuclear material in [the



P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 8

It should also be noted there was no mention in the “Agreed Framework” of the DPRK rejoining the IAEA.


The framework stipulated that a US-led consortium would finance the light water reactors. It was later reported that more than $2 billion of the estimated $4 billion cost of the reactors would be borne by the Republic of Korea, which would also provide the plants. Most of the remaining costs would be borne by Japan and the USA; other Western States would contribute minor shares.

It will be noted that full implementation of the “Agreed Framework” would require at least ten years. Inspection of the two suspect waste storage facilities and full DPRK compliance with its safeguards agreement would not take place until a significant portion of the light water reactor project had been completed. This was interpreted as meaning that, in practice, at least five to seven years would elapse before the IAEA could have access to the waste stores, as well as to any other location or information needed for verifying the completeness and correctness of the DPRK’s initial declaration.

In most of the world the “Agreed Framework” was greeted with a sigh of relief. The danger of a second Korean war had been averted. The Republic of Korea and the DPRK would establish technical co-operation at all levels, opening up the reclusive North to engineers and technicians from abroad.

Supporters of the Framework maintained that it was not based in any way on trust; that it would be most strictly verified and that if the DPRK were to deviate in any way from its terms all commitments for the supply of nuclear technology and fuel oil and the establishment of diplomatic relations would immediately lapse. The light water reactors would also make the DPRK dependent on supplies of foreign (low enriched) nuclear fuel for a large part of its electricity production.

There was, however, some sharp criticism in the USA. Critics alleged that the DPRK had negotiated by far the better deal, including 2000 MW(e) of modern nuclear power reactors, a substantial quantity of fuel oil and progress towards diplomatic recognition in return for stopping to do something that it should not have done in the first place and scrapping some obsolete nuclear plant, and that it would encourage other States to follow the DPRK’s example.

But no one seemed able to come forward with a credible alternative and, in the end, most of the critics seemed reluctantly to accept it.

The IAEA itself was clearly not happy that there would be a delay of at least five years before it could be assured of full implementation of the

DPRK’s safeguards agreement and, in particular, before it could inspect the


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A two suspect sites and fully verify the DPRK’s Initial Report. The main cause of the lengthy and frustrating dispute had been the IAEA’s first attempt to exercise its right to carry out a ‘special inspection’ at an undeclared location and the

DPRK’s prompt rejection of the IAEA’s request. The IAEA’s rights of inspection had hardly been strengthened by the “Agreed Framework”. And what was the

IAEA likely to find in 1999 when it is finally allowed to inspect the two facilities?

But if the “Agreed Framework” had, in fact, persuaded the DPRK to abandon a nuclear weapon programme, and if the concessions made had averted a proliferation chain reaction in North East Asia, the price seemed worth those concessions.

The IAEA had come in for much criticism for its failure to detect

Saddam Hussein’s secret nuclear weapon programme. It had since re-examined its safeguards system and by mid-1997 introduced a series of major changes. In the DPRK, several of the IAEA’s new approaches had been successfully put to the test:

— Using sophisticated analytical techniques, the IAEA had detected a mismatch between the plutonium that the DPRK presented to it as products or in waste. This led the IAEA to conclude that the DPRK had understated the amount of plutonium it had separated.

— The IAEA’s Board of Governors had formally reaffirmed the IAEA’s right, in the context of comprehensive safeguards agreements, to carry out special inspections at undeclared locations. The DPRK’s rejection of such inspections deepened suspicions of its programme (but so far the

DPRK had successfully resisted any special inspection of an undeclared site — or such a special inspection at any site).

— The IAEA had been provided with satellite images of sufficiently high quality to convince its Board of the probable existence of undeclared nuclear waste stores. This also established a useful precedent for IAEA access to national intelligence.

— The Board had shown that it was able to take prompt and decisive action, confirming within four days the Director General’s demand for a special inspection and thrice finding that the DPRK had been in breach of its safeguards agreement and reporting the breach to the Security Council.

— For the first time (except in the abnormal circumstances of Iraq) the

Board had made use of the IAEA’s direct line to the Security Council to draw the Council’s attention to a deliberate and significant violation of a safeguards agreement.



P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 8

At the end of 1995, however, the IAEA was still not able to verify the completeness of the DPRK’s Initial Report, and the DPRK was still in formal breach of its safeguards agreement, as the General Conference noted in

September 1995. Moreover, the ‘special inspection’ procedure had been shown to be very confrontational.

These are serious issues. Perhaps even more serious was the demonstration that, so far at least, the Security Council has been reluctant to fulfil the commitment implicit in its 31 January 1992 declaration that its members considered the proliferation of all weapons of mass destruction to constitute a threat to international peace and security, and that its members “will take appropriate measures in the case of any violations notified to them by the

Agency.” While it might be difficult to maintain that the DPRK had ‘proliferated’, there was no doubt that it had violated its safeguards agreement and

Article III of the NPT. If the DPRK had been able to continue its previous course with relative impunity, it would have called into question not only the effectiveness of IAEA safeguards in deterring proliferation, but also the enforcement authority of the Council itself. More broadly, there could have been doubts about the ability of the international community effectively to require or enforce compliance with any multilateral arms control treaty — such as the Chemical Weapons Convention — as well as with the NPT.

For US policy makers the choice was to accept that the DPRK would continue both its reactor construction programme and the separation of more plutonium at the reprocessing plant, or pay the price needed to put a stop to and eventually reverse these programmes. In effect, the USA decided that it could live with the uncertainty about how much plutonium the DPRK had separated — how much more than the amount it had declared — but that it could not accept the continued separation of plutonium, even if it were made legal by being fully declared and placed under safeguards. Thus, in effect, the

USA paid the price for the cessation of the plutonium separation programme.

But as long as the reprocessing plant remained in place, the DPRK retained some residual leverage.

‘ P r o g r a m m e 9 3 + 2 ’

In 1991 and 1992, Director General Blix secured three of the measures that he deemed essential if the IAEA were to be able to detect another attempt to run a clandestine nuclear weapon programme by a State subject to comprehensive


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A safeguards; in other words, if another State tried to follow the example of


— The Board reaffirmed the IAEA’s right to carry out a special inspection anywhere in a State that had accepted comprehensive safeguards if this were necessary to confirm that all nuclear material that should be under safeguards had been reported to the IAEA. The Board added that it expected such special inspections to be infrequent. (This reaffirmation was made before and independently of the IAEA’s dispute with the DPRK.)

— As Blix put it, the IAEA could not scour the territories of the numerous non-nuclear-weapon States party to the NPT (now more than 180) “in a blind search” for undeclared nuclear plants or material. The right to carry out special inspections would not be of much practical value unless the IAEA knew where to look. The Board concurred in a series of proposals to ensure that the Agency would have more extensive information about the nuclear activities and plans of the States concerned, including access to the results of national intelligence operations.

— The third essential measure was to secure the backing of the Security

Council if a nation blocked effective verification of its safeguards agreement with the IAEA. As noted, on 31 January 1992 the President of the

Council declared — on behalf of its members, represented at the meeting in question by their heads of State or government — that the Council considered the proliferation of all weapons of mass destruction to be a threat to international peace and security and that its members would take appropriate measures in the case of any violation reported by the

IAEA. However, the Council did not recast the President’s statement into a more formal and binding commitment.

E n v i r o n m e n t a l s a m p l i n g

In Iraq the IAEA had tried out a promising new and highly sensitive analytical technique using ‘environmental samples’ of various materials. This can be very useful in detecting whether undeclared nuclear material exists or undeclared activities (in particular, reprocessing of spent fuel) have taken place.


In the DPRK, sensitive analyses of samples taken by IAEA inspectors were used to detect the existence of nuclear material that the authorities had not declared to the IAEA; as noted, they had not told the IAEA the truth about the amount of plutonium they had separated.


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 8

M o r e e x t e n s i v e r e p o r t i n g

Non-nuclear-weapon States party to the NPT were already required by their comprehensive safeguards agreements to notify the IAEA of all their exports of nuclear material.


The nuclear weapon States had made a similar commitment in regard to exports of nuclear material that should be placed under safeguards in the importing State.


In February 1993, acting on a proposal made by the European Union, the IAEA established a more extensive reporting system under which States would notify the IAEA of all exports and imports of nuclear material and exports of specified equipment and non-nuclear material. The first aim was to provide the IAEA with complete information regarding the non-nuclearweapon State’s holdings of nuclear material. The second aim was to identify nuclear activities planned or carried out by a State for which it would need certain specialized equipment or non-nuclear material, such as heavy water.

Participation in the reporting scheme was voluntary.


The European

Union States provided the additional information on exports of nuclear material via EURATOM, but they reported individually and direct to the Agency on exports of specified equipment and non-nuclear material.

V e r i f i c a t i o n o f t h e c o m p l e t e n e s s o f S t a t e d e c l a r a t i o n s

It will be recalled that in verifying compliance with comprehensive safeguards agreements IAEA inspectors had essentially confined their focus, during routine inspections, to the nuclear material at locations that had been declared by the State (but the agreement required the State to notify all material in peaceful uses). The IAEA’s inspectors would verify the State’s reports on its stocks of nuclear material and changes in those stocks (“inventory change reports”) chiefly by access limited to a number of pre-defined strategic points in the plant concerned.


The 1971 system was thus largely one of auditing the State’s nuclear material accounts, and it had worked well in regard to locations and nuclear material that had been reported to the IAEA.


The IAEA’s experience in Iraq and the DPRK had shown, however, that it was essential that the Agency should go beyond auditing the State’s nuclear accounts. The Agency must be able to assure itself that the State’s declarations were also complete — that the

State had reported all its nuclear material. For this purpose the IAEA would need access to more information and routine access to additional locations.



The IAEA had gained valuable experience from its first comprehensive assessment of the completeness of a State’s declaration — namely that made in South Africa after it had acceded to the NPT in 1991.

Progress has been made in achieving a number of these aims. In 1995, the Board authorized the Secretariat to put into effect those elements of the

‘Programme 93 + 2’ that did not require additional legal authority. In May 1997, the Board approved a protocol, to be added to existing comprehensive safeguards agreements, which will provide the legal authority for several safeguards measures that go beyond the existing system, for instance, access by the IAEA to more information about a State’s nuclear activities, more intensive inspections, including access beyond previously agreed ‘strategic points’ in a safeguarded plant, access to any installation within the perimeter of a nuclear site, and access to plants engaged in nuclear related activities such as those manufacturing components of enrichment plants. The changes foreseen in the protocol are also designed to make safeguards under comprehensive agreements more cost efficient.

In 1993, the Director General decided to codify the results of the IAEA’s negative experiences in Iraq and the DPRK and its positive experience in

South Africa. The task would also take into account the limitations placed on the IAEA’s budget by the ‘zero growth’ rule, and its purpose would also be to strengthen and improve the cost efficiency of the safeguards system. It was expected that the Secretariat would present its proposals to the Board in 1995, hence the project’s name, ‘Programme 93 + 2’.


Some of its main proposals for greater access, and the rationale for proposing them, are given below.

(1) Additional access in declared plants. The IAEA’s experience had shown that it might need to carry out inspections in a declared plant at locations other than those defined beforehand as ‘strategic points’. As has been noted, there was no limitation on access when the IAEA carried out a ‘special inspection’, but experience with the DPRK had also shown that demanding a special inspection could lead to a highly charged political confrontation. If the IAEA needed to go beyond strategic points it should have the right to do so in the course of a routine inspection.


(2) Additional access at a nuclear site. The nuclear research centre at Tuwaitha in Iraq contained more than 80 structures besides the two safeguarded research reactors, their fuel stores and a pilot fuel fabrication plant. Under the rules of the 1971 system (INFCIRC/153), these structures were not accessible


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 8 to IAEA inspectors carrying out routine inspections since they had not been identified as nuclear facilities or as containing nuclear material subject to safeguards. It subsequently emerged that some of these structures had housed activities central to the clandestine Iraqi nuclear weapon programme.

To avoid a repetition of the Iraqi experience, the IAEA Secretariat felt it essential to have information about the declared functions of all buildings within the perimeter of a nuclear site as well as a right of access to verify their declared functions. If necessary, access to such structures might be ‘managed’ to permit the plant operator to protect commercially sensitive information.


(3) Access to certain types of plant not containing nuclear material. It would also be essential for the IAEA to have information about, and a limited right of access to, plants in the State that were engaged in activities related to the nuclear fuel cycle, but that did not contain any nuclear material, such as plants that manufactured — or could manufacture — the components of an enrichment facility. An undeclared plant of this type could clearly imply a clandestine nuclear programme.

(4) Cost efficient safeguards. ‘Programme 93 + 2’ was designed to be more cost efficient and not only to make the IAEA better able to detect diversion at declared facilities (i.e. to strengthen ‘classic’ safeguards) and detect clandestine programmes. Economy of operation was essential in view of the IAEA’s severely limited budget and steadily expanding safeguards responsibilities.

By giving safeguards sharper teeth and focusing them on those plants where it might be easier to divert fissile material, the IAEA, it was hoped, could reduce inspection in run-of-the-mill plants, such as light water power reactors.

(5) Board approval and implementation. The Board formally endorsed the launching of ‘Programme 93 + 2’ in December 1993 and reviewed the programme as it evolved throughout 1994. These efforts were directly supported by SAGSI and by a number of Member States that worked with the Secretariat to test the measures proposed in the programme. In March 1995, the Board endorsed the general direction of the programme and reaffirmed that the safeguards systems should be so designed as to provide assurances regarding both the correctness and the completeness of the declarations that States were required to make about their nuclear materials.


In May 1995, the NPT

Review and Extension Conference similarly gave its general blessing to the programme.



The Secretariat considered that the Board’s approval could best be obtained by putting the programme to the Board in two parts. The first, which the Board approved in June 1995, described those measures to strengthen safeguards that could be taken without additional legal authority. The second part would set forth those measures that would require amplification of such authority and were to be incorporated in a protocol to be added to existing comprehensive safeguards agreements. The second part was submitted to the Board in

December 1995, and in June 1996 the Board set up a special open ended committee to draft the protocol. After 55 meetings the Committee completed its work on 4 April 1997 and the Board approved the protocol on 15 May 1997.

During the negotiation of the protocol a number of European Union countries contended that some of the Secretariat’s proposals would lead to a very intrusive system, entailing risks to proprietary information, that granting inspection access to buildings which did not contain nuclear material might cause them legal and even constitutional problems, that only more ‘responsible’

States would accept the new obligations, and that the changes would be discriminatory, putting an additional burden on non-nuclear-weapon States, while the nuclear weapon States would go free.

Some of these issues had arisen in 1970–1971 when the IAEA was negotiating the NPT system and, subsequently, the safeguards agreement with

EURATOM. Part of the underlying problem was — and is — that the IAEA must have the same range of inspection authority in all States that have comprehensive safeguards agreements, and a right that may appear to be intrusive in one situation is essential in another. Another, perhaps even more fundamental, problem is that the NPT does discriminate between non-nuclearweapon and nuclear weapon States. But that is a political reality that the parties to the Treaty have accepted, at least until the aims of Article VI of the

Treaty have been achieved. In the meantime the conclusion of a fissile material cut-off treaty coupled with acceptance of ‘Programme 93 + 2’ by the nuclear weapon States, at least in respect of the nuclear plants they have volunteered to place under safeguards, would do much to eliminate this discrimination.

G r o w i n g d e m a n d s o n I A E A s a f e g u a r d s

The dissolution of the Soviet Union and progress towards a universal non-proliferation regime have required the IAEA to apply safeguards, for the first time, in Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakstan, Armenia, in other non-Russian


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 8

Republics of the Commonwealth of Independent States and in the Baltic

States, and to apply additional safeguards in Argentina, Brazil and South



The dismantling of nuclear warheads is releasing large quantities of plutonium and high enriched uranium and, as noted, the USA has begun placing some of this material under IAEA safeguards. On 11 May 1995, the

NPT Review and Extension Conference decided to extend the NPT indefinitely, in other words to make it permanent. By that action, all IAEA safeguards agreements with non-nuclear-weapon States party to the NPT also automatically became permanent.


By the end of 1995, the amounts of material under IAEA safeguards included:


— 45.1 tonnes of separated plutonium. 11.0 tonnes of this separated plutonium, or some 1300 ‘significant quantities’ (SQs) (i.e. roughly the equivalent of some 1300 warheads), were in non-nuclear-weapon States and were safeguarded under comprehensive agreements.


— 4408.5 tonnes of plutonium in irradiated fuel.

— 4 tonnes of recycled plutonium in fuel elements.

— 20.4 tonnes of high enriched uranium, amounting to 608 SQs. 10.0 tonnes of this uranium or, presumably, about 300 SQs, were in non-nuclearweapon States and safeguarded under comprehensive agreements.

— 47 260 tonnes of low enriched uranium.

— 104 395 tonnes of source material (natural or depleted uranium and thorium).

Since only separated plutonium and high enriched uranium can be directly used in nuclear weapons, the more significant figures, if the possibility of diversion is assumed, were the 11.1 tonnes of separated plutonium and the 10.4 tonnes of high enriched uranium that are held by the non-nuclearweapon States. Nonetheless, all the material referred to is under safeguards and must be inspected and accounted for.

As noted, the proposed fissile material cut-off convention would put an end to the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. If the convention is concluded, the nuclear weapon States and the three remaining nonnuclear-weapon States that are operating unsafeguarded nuclear plants,

India, Israel and Pakistan, may be required, if they join the convention, to place under IAEA safeguards all their reprocessing and enrichment plants, and all the plutonium and high enriched uranium produced by those plants that continue to operate, as well as any other plants using such material.



L a b o r a t o r y s u p p o r t o f t h e

I A E A ’ s s a f e g u a r d s

When the IAEA began to apply safeguards in the early 1960s, its laboratory had the task of analysing uranium and plutonium samples taken routinely at nuclear plants — essentially research reactors — to which safeguards are applied. After the entry into force of the NPT in 1970, nuclear material in many nuclear plants of all types came under IAEA safeguards and the number of samples to be analysed grew rapidly. This growth was particularly marked when all nuclear material in Canada came under safeguards in 1972 and towards the end of the 1970s when comprehensive safeguards agreements with EURATOM and its non-nuclear-weapon States and Japan came into operation.

In the early 1970s, the IAEA decided to build a special Safeguards Analytical Laboratory (SAL) as part of the Seibersdorf complex, and construction was completed in 1975.


However, it was not expected that SAL should analyse all the samples that the IAEA inspectors would take each year. The

IAEA and the governments concerned planned to establish a Network of

Analytical Laboratories (NWAL) in Member States of which SAL was to become a part. It was foreseen that regular intercomparisons between the laboratories in the network would ensure the high quality and uniformity of their analyses.

In 1972–1973, SAL and eight other laboratories in the network carried out a successful test of the system by analysing typical plutonium products supplied by a reprocessing plant and a fuel fabrication plant in Germany.

In a second experiment in 1974–1975, 12 laboratories analysed input solutions supplied by the EUROCHEMIC reprocessing plant at Mol in


NWAL came into operation in 1975, analysing about 480 samples that year, chiefly at SAL. In 1976, SAL began the regular analysis of uranium and spent fuel and, in 1979, of plutonium. During the 1980s, SAL itself analysed more than 1000 samples each year and by the mid-1990s the number had grown to about 1500 a year.


Much of this work was in support of the IAEA’s operations in Iraq or in the development of

‘Programme 93 + 2’.

In 1991, the IAEA began to use environmental monitoring in Iraq. To make the most effective use of this technique the Agency completed the building of a ‘clean room’ as part of SAL in 1995.



P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 8

D e l a y s i n c o n c l u d i n g s a f e g u a r d s a g r e e m e n t s

As already noted, the NPT requires each non-nuclear-weapon State to conclude a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the IAEA within 18 months of its accession to the Treaty. At the end of 1996, 63 non-nuclear-weapon States party to the NPT had not yet concluded their safeguards agreements. In over 50 of the cases more than 18 months had elapsed since the State had acceded and in several cases the agreements were 20 to 25 years overdue!


In practice this situation was less serious than these statistics might suggest. In many cases, such as Burundi or Cambodia, there were extenuating circumstances, and nearly all the States whose agreements were overdue were small developing countries in Africa or Central America having no significant nuclear activities. Only five of the States whose agreements were overdue had any nuclear material or plant that would require the application of safeguards; in three of them all nuclear material was already covered by other comprehensive safeguards agreements pursuant to the Tlatelolco Treaty or a special agreement (Argentina,

Colombia, Ukraine). In one of the remaining two (Algeria) all nuclear activities were covered by safeguards based on the pre-NPT system

(INFCIRC/66/Rev. 2) and in the other (Georgia) negotiation of a safeguards agreement was under way.

Nonetheless, the conclusion of the safeguards agreement is a requirement of the NPT. To say the least, it was unfortunate that a third of the parties to the treaty that underpins the international non-proliferation regime were formally in non-compliance with one of its quite important provisions. Such non-compliance also provides States that have ‘safeguardable’ nuclear plants and material with a precedent or pretext for delaying the conclusion of their safeguards agreements — as the DPRK did for almost five years.

Perhaps the fault lies in the NPT itself. It might have provided an alternative requirement — that States that have more than a predetermined amount of nuclear material or a ‘safeguardable’ nuclear plant must conclude its safeguards agreement with the IAEA within 18 months of acceding to the

NPT, but that the State that has neither might, on accession, formally notify the IAEA accordingly, and undertake to conclude a safeguards agreement if and when it acquires plant or material that should be placed under safeguards. Perhaps it is not too late to apply such a procedure; it might be recommended as an interim measure by a future review conference.



T h e f i n a n c i n g o f s a f e g u a r d s

In the early years the budget for IAEA safeguards was an integral part of the Agency’s regular budget. The argument advanced in favour of this approach was that safeguards, like several other IAEA activities, were of benefit to all members and all should pay according to the standard scale.

In 1971, following the entry into force of the NPT and in expectation that a probable sharp rise in safeguards costs would be resisted by most developing countries, the Board and General Conference approved special arrangements for financing safeguards. These arrangements substantially reduced the shares of the safeguards budget to be paid from

1972 onwards by Member States having relatively low per capita incomes which were henceforth known as ‘shielded’ countries or contributors.

The shielded countries were those whose per capita national income was less than one third of the average per capita income of the ten largest contributors. In 1976, in a further attempt to make rising safeguards costs more acceptable to the G-77, the amounts of the ‘shielded’ contributions were frozen.

In 1978, the application of the 1971 arrangements brought the USSR into the category of low per capita income countries, but only for one year.

In 1980, the ten Member States making the largest contributions to the budget were made ineligible for ‘shielding’ and the threshold for being shielded was lowered to include only those countries with per capita incomes of less that one third of the 15 (instead of 10) highest per capita income countries.

In 1989, the Board recommended and the General Conference approved a new system that took into account the effect of price increases on the safeguards budget. In effect this ‘unfroze’ the contributions of ‘shielded’ countries by permitting their contributions to be raised to take account of price increases. This system was extended in 1992 and applied to the IAEA’s budgets for 1993, 1994 and 1995.

In response to the General Conference’s request, the Board came forward in 1995 with a complex revision of the 1971 and 1979 systems. Under this revision, poorer Member States would, as a rule, eventually contribute half as much to the safeguards budget as they would have paid under the standard IAEA scale of assessment.


The Board would review the new arrangements in or before the year 2000.


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 8

G l o b a l p r o d u c t i o n , u s e a n d s t o c k s o f p l u t o n i u m

It will be recalled that in the wake of the International Nuclear Fuel

Cycle Evaluation in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the IAEA Secretariat tried but was unable to obtain international agreement on a system that would implement Article XII.A.5 of the Statute which gives the IAEA the right to call for the “deposit with it” of any surplus civilian plutonium — in other words to establish an international plutonium storage scheme. In the early 1990s, the

Secretariat returned to the issue, but it was clear that the political will to create such a storage facility was still lacking.

Nonetheless, the nuclear weapon States and the other main producers and consumers of separated plutonium were coming under pressure to provide more information about their production and stocks of fissile material — to be more ‘transparent’ as the saying goes. Accordingly, the nine States concerned (the five nuclear weapon States as well as Germany, Japan, Belgium and Switzerland) and the IAEA began meeting informally to agree on means of increasing transparency.

In the early 1990s, as the pace of nuclear disarmament picked up and as new reprocessing plants came into operation, there was growing interest and, in some quarters, concern about the large amounts of high enriched uranium, and in particular about the separated plutonium becoming available from dismantled nuclear weapons and from civilian reprocessing. The high enriched uranium, could be ‘blended down’, in other words mixed with natural or depleted uranium, and used as low enriched nuclear fuel in light water reactors (the most common power reactor). In low enriched form the uranium could not be used as a nuclear explosive. The plutonium, on the other hand, and particularly the plutonium recovered from dismantled nuclear warheads, would retain its potency as a nuclear explosive.

(Plutonium recovered from the spent fuel of light water reactors, if it has been heavily irradiated in the reactor as it should be for most economical use, would contain plutonium isotopes that would make it unsuitable, though not entirely unusable, in a nuclear warhead.)


Many ideas have emerged for dealing with surplus plutonium from dismantled nuclear warheads. It appeared that the two most promising were to mix plutonium oxide with uranium oxide and burn the resulting mixed oxide, or ‘MOX’, fuel in nuclear power plants, or to mix the plutonium with the highly radioactive fission products that are a by-product of reprocessing,


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A vitrify the mixture and dispose of it deep underground. It has been contended that it would be very difficult and expensive to reverse the process and to try to recover weapon grade plutonium from the MOX fuel or the vitrified product.

In response to the interest and concern about growing stocks of separated plutonium the IAEA began in 1993 to create a database on the amounts of separated plutonium in civilian nuclear programmes and to identify additional confidence building measures relating to the safe handling, storage and disposal of plutonium.


The results, in the form of short reports on the production, use and stocks of plutonium, were published in the IAEA

Yearbook for 1995 and 1996.


The reports in the Yearbooks indicated that because of French, British and Japanese commitments to build new or expand existing reprocessing plants and the deferral of almost all plans to build fast breeder reactors, there was a mismatch between the supply of and demand for civilian plutonium that was likely to last until the year 2001. By then the use of plutonium in

MOX fuel might start reducing the surplus stock, which was likely to peak at about 220 tonnes in or around the year 2001. These estimates were, however, sensitive to factors that might slow the growth of demand for MOX fuel or, conversely, delay the full use of civilian reprocessing plants. The matter was further complicated by uncertainties about the fate of more than 100 tonnes of plutonium that might be recovered from dismantled nuclear warheads and might become available as an additional source of MOX fuel.

S a f e g u a r d s : T h e s i t u a t i o n t o d a y

The end of the Cold War and other events since the late 1980s transformed the environment in which IAEA safeguards operated and the scope of their operations. We have noted the expansion of safeguards to the successor

States of the former Soviet Union. But that was only one aspect of the transformed picture. Had the Cold War not ended it is at least questionable whether the Security Council would have reached agreement on measures for eliminating Iraq’s nuclear weapon potential or on putting some pressure on the DPRK to comply with its safeguards agreement and to negotiate the

“Agreed Framework”. Or that the Council would have been able to agree unanimously on its January 1992 declaration regarding the threat to international peace and security posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.


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In the case of South Africa, according to President F.W. de Klerk’s statements, the changed international security situation made it counter-productive for South Africa to retain its nuclear armaments. South Africa’s decision to scrap its nuclear warheads and join the NPT removed the main obstacle to an African nuclear weapon free zone and may have encouraged the negotiation of similar zones in other regions.

Even more fundamentally, the end of the Cold War opened the way to major nuclear disarmament by the Russian Federation and the USA. Without such disarmament there might have been little prospect in 1995 of making the

NPT permanent and, with it, making permanent all safeguards agreements concluded pursuant to the Treaty.


The IAEA and its safeguards have thus been major beneficiaries of the end of the Cold War. By providing a bridge between the superpowers from the early 1960s (and, in a sense, since 1955, when the Soviet Union joined the

Washington talks) until the termination of the Cold War in the late 1980s, and by pioneering the use of institutionalized on-site inspections, they helped in a modest way to bring about that termination.




The safeguards programme drawn up in the Initial Report of the Prepcom (document GC.I/1, GOV/1) was vague and general — it amounted to recommending that the IAEA should study ways of implementing the relevant articles of its

Statute. In doing so it should keep pace with the development of the Agency’s work. Safeguards procedures “should be adapted to the specific character of each individual project and the degree of potential risk of material diversion.” There was no suggestion that the IAEA should draw up a detailed safeguards system.

The programme did, however, provide for the creation of a Division of Safeguards with a Professional staff of eight and an Inspection Unit with a Professional staff of four, the latter “to plan for the implementation of safeguards and health and safety standards” (GC.I/1, GOV/1, paras 84–85, 141–143 and 124–125). Despite the

General Conference’s approval of these recommendations, the first Director

General was to run into strong opposition in 1958 when he sought to appoint the first staff members of the safeguards Division.

Except for the reactors that the USA and United Kingdom temporarily placed under safeguards in the mid-1960s in order to help the IAEA test its system and












12 procedures and for proposals by certain eastern European States in 1966 (in the run-up to the NPT) for full-scope safeguards in central Europe.

CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES, Background Material for the Review of the

International Atomic Policies and Programs of the United States, Report to the Joint

Committee on Atomic Energy, Vol. 3, US Govt. Printing Office, Washington, DC

(1960) 808, 827–839.

“Agreement for Cooperation between the Government of the United States of

America and the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) Concerning

Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy”.

CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES, Review of the International Atomic Policies

and Programs of the United States, p. 837 (Article XII.A of the US–EURATOM


Ibid., p. 839.

Ibid., p. 837 (Article XII.D of the US–EURATOM Agreement).

HEWLETT, R.G., HOLL, J.M., Atoms for Peace and War: 1963–1961, Eisenhower and

the Atomic Energy Commission, University of California Press, Berkeley, CA (1989)


HEWLETT, R.G., HOLL, J.M., ibid., p. 430.

CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES, Review of the International Atomic Policies

and Programs of the United States, p. 809.

The IAEA/EURATOM/Five Nation agreement (INFCIRC/193) was approved by the Council of Ministers of the European Community in 1973, but it was not until

1977 that arrangements could be made to put it into operation in the plants of the

EURATOM non-nuclear-weapon States. However, at the invitation of the United

Kingdom, the IAEA had applied safeguards (chiefly for the purpose of familiarizing IAEA inspectors with the requirements for applying safeguards to MAGNOXtype plants) at the Bradwell power reactor until 1970 and, before and after that date, to small quantities of nuclear material subject to safeguards agreements concluded before the United Kingdom joined the Common Market.

The only non-nuclear-weapon States in which the IAEA was able to apply safeguards during the 1950s and the 1960s were Japan, the European States that were not then members of the European Community or the Warsaw Pact, Australia and a number of developing countries. Of the plants under IAEA safeguards in 1970, substantially the largest number were in Japan. Other than Bradwell — see endnote 11 — the only European plants under IAEA safeguards on 30 June 1970 were two power reactors in Spain and research reactors in Austria, Denmark, Finland,

Greece, Portugal, Spain, Turkey and Yugoslavia almost all supplied by the USA, and a fast critical assembly in the United Kingdom. (Annual Report of the Board of


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Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1969–30 June 1970, GC(XIV)/430, IAEA,

Vienna (1970) 40–42.)

This was immediately clear to some delegations in Vienna. Hewlett and Holl write of the “...consternation of other Western nations, which...agreed that the Soviet bloc would never permit the establishment of effective international controls under the Agency if EURATOM were allowed to establish its own system”

(HEWLETT, R.H., HOLL, J.M., Atoms for Peace and War, p. 442).

Document GOV/OR.83, paras 35 and 60.

STOESSINGER, J.G., “Atoms for Peace: The International Atomic Energy Agency”,

Organizing for Peace in the Nuclear Age, Report of the Commission to Study the

Organization of Peace, New York University Press, New York (1959) 182.

Canada set a peppercorn price of $1.00 for the three tons of uranium. See the article by Ambassador William Barton in Personal Reflections.

McKNIGHT, A., Atomic Safeguards: A Study in International Verification, UNITAR,

New York (1971) 46–47. The USSR, India, Indonesia and the United Arab Republic

(Egypt) were amongst the critics of the agreement and its accompanying letter which specified the safeguards to be applied pending the approval of “general regulations”. The critics claimed that the safeguards proposed were excessive and unnecessary. (Document GOV/OR.117.)

SZASZ, P.C., The Law and Practices of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Legal

Series No. 7, IAEA, Vienna (1970) 551.

IAEA Statute, Article XII (“Agency safeguards”).

CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES, Review of the International Atomic Policies

and Programs of the United States, p. 758.

SZASZ, P.C., The Law and Practices of the International Atomic Energy Agency, p. 552.


Officially known as The Agency’s Safeguards System (1961), document


The Inspectors’ Document, GC(V)/INF/39, Annex. See SZASZ, P.C., The Law and

Practices of the International Atomic Energy Agency, pp. 560–561, 599, 607–615.

CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES, Review of the International Atomic Policies

and Programs of the United States, p. 743.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1960–30 June

1961, GC(V)/154, IAEA, Vienna (1961), p. 37, paras 228–229.

Ibid., and Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July

1961–30 June 1962, GC(VI)/195, IAEA, Vienna (1962), p. 21, paras 114, 115 and 118.

McKNIGHT, A., Atomic Safeguards, pp. 53–55. Three members of the Board abstained from the decision, which also committed the Board to review the 1961 system. The
















42 power reactors being sold to India were Tarapur-1 and 2 supplied by US General

Electric (construction started in October 1964) and Rajasthan-1 supplied by Atomic

Energy of Canada Limited (construction started in August 1965). Construction of

Rajasthan-2 began in April 1968. The plant the United Kingdom sold to Japan was

Tokai-1, the construction of which had already begun in March 1961. (Nuclear Power

Reactors in the World, April 1996 Edition, Reference Data Series No. 2, IAEA, Vienna

(1996) 27–28 and 30.)

GOLDSCHMIDT, B., Le Complexe Atomique, Fayard (1980) 404.

McKNIGHT, A., Atomic Safeguards, pp. 55–56. One explanation given for this was that the subject of safeguards was so contentious that once passage had been agreed no one dared to suggest even minor editorial changes, for fear of reopening the debate.

SZASZ, P.C., The Law and Practices of the International Atomic Energy Agency, pp. 553–554.

The abstainers were South Africa and Switzerland (document GOV/OR.357, para. 48).

McKNIGHT, A., Atomic Safeguards, p. 55.

SZASZ, P.C., The Law and Practices of the International Atomic Energy Agency pp. 554–555; and McKNIGHT, A., Atomic Safeguards, pp. 56–58.

The United Kingdom adopted the same policy and turned over to the IAEA responsibility for applying the safeguards prescribed in its bilateral agreements.

Paul Jolles told the author that the Swiss, too, preferred to have US inspection.

Swiss relations with the USA were cordial and US inspectors were usually friendly and easy going, while IAEA inspectors were an unknown quantity.

Information provided by Myron Kratzer, leader of the US delegation at the

Safeguards Committee (1970).

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1963–30 June

1964,” GC(VIII)/270, IAEA, Vienna (1964), p. 28, paras 130 and 132. The text of the

USA–IAEA agreement is given in document INFCIRC/47.

“Virtually all their nuclear material”, since the NPT does permit non-nuclearweapon States to withdraw nuclear material from safeguards if the material is to be used for non-explosive military purposes such as propulsion of submarines.

This question is examined later in this chapter.

Published as document INFCIRC/153.

In such cases the prohibition against any military use of the supplied items remained in force.

That is, the closing date of the last IAEA Annual Report before the approval of

INFCIRC/66. In 1975, the Board accepted Director General Eklund’s proposal that


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57 henceforth the IAEA should publish only a single annual report (thus eliminating the special annual reports to the General Assembly and ECOSOC) and that the report should cover the calendar year instead of, as previously, the period from

1 July of a given year to 30 June of the next.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1969–30 June

1970, pp. 35–36 and 38–42, paras 99, and 115 (Table 22).

GOLDSCHMIDT, B., Le Complexe Atomique, p. 176.

LEWIS, J.L., LITAI, X., China Builds the Bomb, Stanford University Press, Stanford,

CA (1988) 60–61.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1962–30 June

1963, GC(VII)/228, IAEA, Vienna (1963), p. 18, para. 114; and Annual Report of the

Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1963–30 June 1964, p. 29, para. 133.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1965–30 June

1966, GC(X)/330, IAEA, Vienna (1966), p. 47, para. 208.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1969–30 June

1970, p. 38, para. 115.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1967–30 June

1968, GC(XII)/380, IAEA, Vienna (1968), pp. 30–31, paras 120–121 and 126.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1968–30 June

1969, GC(XIII)/404, IAEA, Vienna (1969), p. 34, para. 124.

GOLDSCHMIDT, B., Les Rivalités Atomiques, Fayard, Paris (1967) 289.

Finland was the second non-nuclear-weapon State to ratify the NPT — on 5 February

1969. (Ireland was the first.) Finland wished to be the first party to conclude a safeguards agreement with the IAEA, an ambition that it achieved on 9 February 1972.

A description of the work done in preparing for the application of safeguards under the NPT is given in ROMETSCH, R., “Development of the IAEA safeguards system for NPT”, Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy (Proc. 4th Int. Conf. Geneva, 1971),

Vol. 9, UN, Geneva (1971) 386–396.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1969–30 June

1970, p. 37, para. 109.

Namely, the difference between the amount of nuclear material in an MBA calculated on the basis of reports by the plant manager, and the amount of material actually found to be present when stock is taken.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1969–30 June

1970, p. 37, para. 109.

The issues addressed included studies of the problems of measuring the amounts of nuclear material (‘inventories’) in various parts of reprocessing plants when they are in continuous operation, the rapid measurement of quantities of plutonium and


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A uranium in the liquid wastes of such plants and on monitoring the movement of spent fuel (Annual Report 1 July 1970–30 June 1971, GC(XV)/455, IAEA, Vienna (1971), p. 7, para. 2, and p. 45, para. 117). The resolution of the Board of Governors (largely a

British draft, co-sponsored by Italy and the USA) asked the committee to advise the

Board “on the Agency’s responsibilities in relation to safeguards in connection with the Treaty, and in particular on the content of the agreements which will be required in connection with the Treaty” (document GOV/INF/222). The leading Western members of the Board envisaged that the Committee would first draft the model to be followed in agreements with individual States and then prepare a model for the agreement to be concluded with groups of States — in practice this meant

EURATOM. It soon became clear that it would be politically feasible to draft only a single model agreement and that this model (i.e. INFCIRC/153) would have to serve as the basis for negotiations with EURATOM as well as individual States.







Since the agreements to be concluded pursuant to Article III.1 of the NPT are to verify that the non-nuclear-weapon State is not diverting nuclear material in that State

or under that State’s jurisdiction or control, and since the NPT already contained an article calling for safeguards on nuclear exports (Article III.2), the Committee and the model agreement did not address the question of what safeguards should be applied to nuclear exports after they had left the non-nuclear-weapon State concerned. (INFCIRC/153 only requires that a non-nuclear-weapon State must notify the IAEA of all exports of nuclear material to other non-nuclear-weapon States.

What safeguards are to be applied when nuclear material or equipment reaches the importing State are prescribed in general terms in Article III.2 of the NPT.) See

FISCHER, D.A.V., Towards 1995: The Prospects for Ending the Proliferation of Nuclear

Weapons, UNIDIR, Dartmouth Publishing, Aldershot (1993), Chapter 5, “Safeguards”, and Chapter 6, “Export Conditions and Controls”).

NPT, Article III.4.

Document SAF/112.

Document GOV/COM.22/3.

RAINER, R.H., SZASZ, P.C., The Law and Practices of the International Atomic Energy

Agency: 1970–1980, Supplement 1 to the 1970 Edition of Legal Series No. 7, Legal Series

No. 7-S1, IAEA, Vienna (1993) 289–291.

The broad outline of the agreements to be concluded with non-nuclear-weapon

States and the timetable for the negotiation of the agreements are set forth in

Articles III.1 and III.4 of the NPT.

On many issues the United Kingdom, then on the verge of joining the Common

Market, tended to side with the non-nuclear-weapon States of EURATOM and may


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70 have been the proponent of the limits on “inspection effort” that were incorporated in the Safeguards Committee’s recommendations. However these limits are far above the effort actually deployed by the IAEA and thus had little practical significance.

(Information provided by Myron Kratzer.)

In particular, the sixth paragraph of the Preamble and Article III.1 of the NPT.

In fact, most if not all nuclear plants and fuel in Japan were already subject to

INFCIRC/66/Rev. 22 safeguards agreements.

The Committee agreed, however, that the obligation to accept safeguards (and hence to declare nuclear material) extended to all nuclear material that was required

to be safeguarded under the agreement, i.e. all material in the State or under its jurisdiction or control anywhere — except material in a permitted military use. Failure to declare material would thus be a breach of the agreement.

For instance, if the information provided by the State was “not adequate for the

Agency to fulfil its responsibilities under the agreement” (INFCIRC/153, para. 73).

These responsibilities include that of ensuring “...that safeguards will be applied, in accordance with the terms of the [safeguards] Agreement on all source and special fissionable material...” in all the State’s peaceful nuclear activities. The reference to

“peaceful nuclear activities” reflects the fact that the NPT does not prohibit nonexplosive military activities, such as the use of nuclear power to propel warships, and that such activities cannot be ‘safeguarded’ by the IAEA. INFCIRC/153 accordingly provides a procedure (para. 14) for withdrawing nuclear material from safeguards for such non-peaceful uses. These procedures have never been invoked.

Document INFCIRC/153, subparas 71(a), 71(b) and 76(a).

As noted, the Committee’s remit was limited to the actions to be taken by non-nuclear-weapon States and by the IAEA in applying safeguards in those

States. The absence of a national system of accounting for and control of nuclear material in the Russian Federation (which, as a nuclear weapon State, was not required to have such a system), and of such systems in the non-Russian members of the CIS when they gained independence partly accounts for current concerns about trafficking in nuclear material in those States.

By the time the Committee reached paragraph 81 of the 116 paragraphs of the model agreement it had become clear to the EURATOM countries that there would be no re-run to prepare recommendations concerning the content of agreements to be concluded with “groups of States”.

Paragraph 81 of INFCIRC/153 lists the criteria that the IAEA should apply in determining the number, duration, intensity, etc., of the inspections it will carry out at a particular nuclear plant. Subparagraph 81(b) includes as one of the criteria “the





73 effectiveness of the State’s accounting and control system...” This omits one word from the corresponding formulation in paragraph 7 of the model agreement which requires that the IAEA “ its verification, shall take due account of the technical effectiveness of the State’s system” (emphasis added). During the negotiation of the IAEA–EURATOM agreement the EURATOM delegation maintained that the elimination of the word “technical” in subpara. 81(b) had been deliberate and that it required the IAEA to take account of the political as well as the technical effectiveness of the EURATOM system. The IAEA delegation did not accept this tortuous argument.

The definition of ‘nuclear material’ does not include ore (INFCIRC/153, para. 112).

In effect what had happened was that when the EURATOM parties abandoned their original plan that the safeguards committee should negotiate two basic documents, one for individual States and the second for groups of States, they had tacitly left it to the IAEA Secretariat to negotiate the second document directly with

EURATOM. The original EURATOM mandate is still reflected in the German name for the agreement, “Das Verifikationsabkommen”.

The IAEA negotiators took the position that there was no provision in INFCIRC/153 that would permit the IAEA to discriminate on political grounds between its arrangements with EURATOM and those with any other State’s system of accounting for and control of nuclear material. Discrimination could only be justified on the grounds implicit in para. 81(b) of INFCIRC/153 that a particular State’s system was technically more effective and functionally more independent than another State’s system. Hence, if any other State established and maintained a SSAC comparable with that of EURATOM it would be entitled to comparably favourable treatment.







Only Japan decided to follow this path. Australia formally reserved its right to negotiate an agreement similar to that with Japan but it has not done so, perhaps because the very modest Australian nuclear programme (apart from uranium mining and export) has hardly changed since 1970.

Document GOV/OR.475, paras 33–38.

Document GOV/1823 of 3 February 1977.

IAEA Statute, Article II.

Spain acceded to the NPT on 5 November 1987 and to the IAEA–EURATOM–

EURATOM non-nuclear-weapon States agreement on 5 April 1989.

Document GOV/OR.474, paras 60–62.

The agreement with France and the Republic of Korea (INFCIRC/233) entered into force on 22 September 1975, with France and Pakistan (INFCIRC/239) on


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 8




18 March 1976 and with the Federal Republic of Germany and Brazil (INFCIRC/237) on 26 February 1976.

In 1977, when President Carter announced that he intended to withdraw certain

US troops from the Republic of Korea, the South Korean Government responded by threatening to “go nuclear” — to acquire nuclear weapons. REISS, M., Without

the Bomb: The Politics of Nuclear Nonproliferation, Columbia University Press, New

York (1988) 78–108.

Communication from Myron Kratzer.

Nuclear Power Reactors in the World, April 1996 Edition, p. 43. One nuclear power plant, Angra-1, completed by Westinghouse in 1984, is operating at the same site,

Angra dos Reis.






According to Nucleonics Week, the Brazilian utility concerned, Furnas, estimated that by the time the Angra-2 plant was completed in 1999 it would have cost

$7.2 billion. Furnas’ holding company and state electricity monopoly, ELECTRO-

BRAS, put the total cost at $10 billion, the same as the estimate made in 1994 by

Brazil’s federal audit court. Reportedly, the construction company had run into great depths of soft sand when it tried to lay the foundations of the plant; costs had also risen because of ‘on-again, off-again’ construction. (“Furnas says Angra-2 will be ready for June 1999 commercial operation”, Nucleonics Week (23 January 1997) 10.)

The guidelines identified as ‘sensitive’ enrichment and reprocessing plants and plants for the production of heavy water.

The leader of the project was an outstanding nuclear engineer working in the

IAEA Secretariat, Robert Skjöldebrand.

There are two other important multilateral nuclear ventures, Eurodif and Urenco.

The first is a large gaseous diffusion enrichment plant built and operated by

France, but in which other States (notably Italy and Iran) originally made substantial capital investments. Urenco is essentially an arrangement between

Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom for marketing the product of their gas centrifuge plants at Gronau, Almelo and Capenhurst.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1965–30 June

1966, p. 41, para. 201; Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General

Conference 1 July 1966–30 June 1967, GC(XI)/355, IAEA, Vienna (1967), p. 28, para.

100; and Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July

1967–30 June 1968, p. 29, para. 112.

Documents INFCIRC/207, INFCIRC/207/Add. 1 and INFCIRC/207/Add. 2 of 26

July 1974, March 1984 and December 1991. The texts of the notifications from the five nuclear weapon States are identical.

















Document INFCIRC/153, para. 92.

NPT, Article III.2.

The adjective ‘universal’, which appears in the Annual Report for 1991,

GC(XXXVI)/1004, IAEA, Vienna (1992) 143, was subsequently and rightly dropped.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1966–30 June

1967, p. 5, para. 3.

The Annual Report for 1994, GC(39)/3, IAEA, Vienna (1995), p. 187, footnote (e).

Brazil ratified the Treaty but refrained from waiving the four conditions set by the

Treaty for its entry into force.

Annual Report for 1995, GC(40)/8, IAEA, Vienna (1996), p. 70, Table and p. 71, footnote (a).

On a number of occasions the IAEA has asked the nuclear weapon States to review these estimates, most recently, it is understood, in 1996.

Eklund described to the Board the ‘diversion scenarios’ that could theoretically be possible, and their flaws (Document GOV/OR.571, paras 20–26).

This statement and several of the following points are based on GRUEMM, H.,

“Safeguards and Tamuz, setting the record straight”, IAEA Bulletin 23 4 (December

1981) 10–14. At that time, Professor Gruemm was Deputy Director General in charge of the Department of Safeguards.

France’s lack of confidence in Iraqi intentions was also implicit in an exchange of letters of 11 September 1976 between France and Iraq that the French Government brought to the IAEA’s notice. The letters constitute an agreement that the two countries would conclude with the Agency a trilateral safeguards agreement (pursuant to INFCIRC/66, Rev. 2) if Iraq’s NPT agreement were to lapse, as it would have done if the NPT itself had lapsed. Furthermore, the two countries agreed that if the trilateral agreement failed to come into force three months before the lapse of Iraq’s NPT agreement, the safeguards provisions of the NPT agreement would continue to be applied so as to ensure fulfilment of the agreement under which France

had supplied the reactor to Iraq. (RAINER, R.H., SZASZ, P.C., The Law and Practices of

the International Atomic Energy Agency: 1970–1980, p. 341.)

Under the NPT safeguards system, as under previous IAEA systems, the Agency is required “to secure the consent of the State to the designation of Agency inspectors to that State” (INFCIRC/153, para. 9). This provision enables the State concerned, if it is acting in bad faith, to reject any inspector that might be too curious.

As later events were to show, Tuwaitha illustrated the vital importance to effective safeguards of having access to high definition satellite images.

Annual Report for 1981, GC(XXVI)/664, IAEA, Vienna (1982), p. 10, para. 22.


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For example, by comparing reports from Canada and Pakistan on shipments and receipts of the fuel.

The Kanupp reactor was covered by an INFCIRC/66 agreement and hence subject to “access at all times” by IAEA inspectors. It is not clear why the IAEA Secretariat did not invoke this provision when Pakistan objected to the additional safeguards proposed by the IAEA.

Annual Report for 1982, GC(XXVII)/684, IAEA, Vienna (1983), p. 15, footnote (3). In the Annual Reports for 1981 and 1982, the Secretariat noted, however, that in two cases (the Pakistani and Indian plants) it had not been able to conclude that all material under safeguards in 1981 and 1982 had “...remained in peaceful nuclear activities or was otherwise adequately accounted for,” Annual Report for 1982, p. 15, para. 54. In other words, in these two cases the Secretariat was unable to provide the blanket assurance it had given in all previous Annual Reports about the nondiversion of safeguarded nuclear material.

Annual Report for 1982, p. 15, para. 53. It will be recalled that the USA and the

United Kingdom had offered to place all civilian nuclear plants, and France certain nuclear plants, under safeguards.

Annual Report for 1983, GC(XXVIII)/713, IAEA, Vienna (1984), p. 13, para. 34; and

Annual Report for 1985, GC(XXX)/775, IAEA, Vienna (1986), p. 12, para. 29.

See document INFCIRC/153, para. 14. For instance, the State would have to inform the Agency of the activity in which it planned to use the nuclear material it was withdrawing from safeguards. The State would have to make it clear that such use was not in conflict with any undertaking the State might have given and in respect of which IAEA safeguards applied (e.g. if the material had been imported the State would have to make it clear that the material was not subject to a “peaceful use only” undertaking). The State would have to make an arrangement with the

IAEA identifying as far as possible how long and under what circumstances safeguards would not apply. As soon as the material was reintroduced into a peaceful activity (such as reprocessing or re-enrichment), safeguards would again apply.

Nuclear Research Reactors in the World, July 1990 Edition, Reference Data Series No. 3,

IAEA, Vienna (1990) 39.

The core of the reactor contained about 3.2 kg of 80% enriched uranium (ibid., p. 56).

A further 29.7 kg were in storage as fresh or irradiated fuel. (FISCHER, D.A.V.,

Towards 1995: The Prospects for Ending the Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, p. 48.)

Iraq also had several hundred tons of uranium concentrates from Portugal and

Niger. The NPT required Iraq to notify the IAEA of the import of the uranium concentrates, but such materials are not subject to other safeguards. In other words, the IAEA did not have the right to inspect them.

















The USA used electromagnetic isotope separators to produce high enriched uranium for the Hiroshima bomb. The machines were also known as ‘calutrons’, after the

University of California where they had been devised by Professor Ernest


Besides the Action Team’s office at IAEA Headquarters, it was provided with accommodation in Baghdad at the Monitoring and Verification Centre established by UNSCOM. The team had a staff of 16, including 4 provided by Member States cost free to the IAEA. The team was established separately from the IAEA

Department of Safeguards but drew upon it (and upon Member States) for expert help.

None was detected in the first months of 1997.

It consisted of 208 irradiated fuel assemblies from Iraqi research reactors.

1.8 tonnes of low enriched, 6 tonnes of depleted, and 540 tonnes of natural uranium.

Paragraph 1 of INFCIRC/153, the model for the standard NPT safeguards agreement.

An unofficial French estimate was that the programme employed about

20 000 workers at more than 30 sites and would have cost about $15 billion if carried out in an industrialized country (estimate made to the author by Georges Le Guelte, former Head of External Relations at the Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique).

GC(XXXV)/OR.341, paras 76–78.

The United Nations and the Iraq–Kuwait Conflict, 1991–1996, IAEA Director General’s

Eighth Report to the Security Council on the Implementation of the Agency’s Plan for Future Ongoing Monitoring and Verification of Iraq’s Compliance with

Paragraph 12 of Resolution 687 (1991), S/1995/844, 6 October 1995, Document 213,

Unnited Nations, New York (1966) 766–768.

BBC World Service, 0400 GMT, 12 August 1991.

IAEA Press Release, PR/91-24 of 18 July 1991.

But, as noted, they did not detect the unreported production of a few grams of plutonium, in violation of the safeguards agreement.

Some clandestine activities were carried out at the Tuwaitha centre, regularly visited by IAEA inspectors, but inspections were confined to 4 of the 85 structures within the perimeter of the centre, namely the two research reactors, an awayfrom-reactor fresh fuel store and a pilot fuel fabrication plant.

Paragraph 77 of INFCIRC/153 provides that “ circumstances which may lead to special inspections...the State and the Agency shall consult forthwith. As a result...the Agency may make inspections in addition to [its routine inspections]…, and may obtain access in agreement with the State to information or locations in addition to the access specified...for ad hoc and routine inspections… In case action


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134 by the State is essential and urgent, paragraph 18 above shall apply.” Before 1991, the

IAEA had apparently carried out one or two special inspections (which it may do if the State submits a special report indicating that there may have been an unusual loss of nuclear material or if the containment of a plant had unexpectedly changed

(INFCIRC/153/para. 68), but the IAEA had not carried out a special inspection at an additional location, i.e. at a location not declared by the State concerned.

Document INFCIRC/153, para. 73.

Document INFCIRC/153, para. 18.

Document INFCIRC/153, para. 19.

IAEA Statute, Articles III.B.4, XII.C, XVI.B.1.

LEWIS, P., “UN bomb experts put back estimate of Iraq’s progress”, International

Herald Tribune, 21 May 1992.

But it has been said that if the large calutron plants had gone into full operation their presence would have become obvious to satellites by reason of the large ‘heat sinks’ and the electromagnetic disturbances that they would have created. It is difficult to believe that the operation of two vast complexes, each containing some three hundred buildings and other structures and each occupying several square kilometres, could have remained undetected indefinitely.

IAEA Safeguards Glossary 1987 Edition, IAEA/SG/INF/1 (Rev. 1), IAEA, Vienna

(1997) 23. The ‘significant quantity’ is the approximate quantity of special fissionable

(fissile) material required for a single nuclear explosive device. SAGSI’s approximation takes into account “unavoidable losses of conversion and manufacturing processes.”

Comment by the IAEA Department of Safeguards.

Under para. 80(a) of INFCIRC/153, the maximum amount of routine inspection of a reactor or sealed store with a content exceeding five effective kilograms is one sixth of a person-year, or 50 person-days. However, in determining the actual number of inspections, the Agency must take account of several factors, including the accessibility of the nuclear material, which decreases if the material has been irradiated since it would take longer to process it for use in a nuclear explosive device. While the IAEA should apply uniform verification standards in fully comparable situations, it has some latitude, if it wishes to use it, in determining the actual number of inspections it will carry out at a plant in this category during each year. It will be recalled that Professor Gruemm wrote that it was envisaged that the

IAEA would increase the frequency of inspections at Tamuz 1 to twice a month as soon as the first full fuel load was in place.

It is widely assumed, for instance, that the nuclear weapon States use only some

4 kg of plutonium in their nuclear warheads (and not the 8 kg that the IAEA defines as a ‘significant quantity’). It is also theoretically possible to reduce much












144 further the amount required. But IAEA safeguards are designed to detect diversion in ‘beginner’ States and not in those States that have long and extensive experience in manufacturing nuclear weapons.

Document INFCIRC/153, para. 28. As noted above (endnote 97), it is understood that in 1996 the IAEA sent a letter to the nuclear weapon States asking for advice on changing the values set for ‘significant quantities’.

Another question is suggested by the fact that national intelligence agencies apparently failed to detect the vast Iraqi programme. If this is correct, how much confidence can there be that national intelligence would detect smaller clandestine programmes in other countries? Future technical advances, such as the use of lasers to enrich uranium or to transform reactor grade into weapon grade plutonium, may make concealment even easier.

The concept is reflected in Articles 14, 16, 17 and 21 of the protocol to the

IAEA–EURATOM agreement. Briefly, these provide that the IAEA will carry out routine inspections simultaneously with certain of EURATOM’s inspections, that the two agencies will agree in advance in which EURATOM inspections the IAEA will take part, that EURATOM will notify the IAEA in advance of its detailed inspection plans so that the IAEA can decide at which inspections it will be present and that the IAEA will get working papers for those inspections at which the IAEA will be present and inspection reports for all other EURATOM inspections.

The new approach is described in GOV/INF/654 of 13 May 1992 and the Annex.

That is, that in certain types of plant the IAEA would observe the work of EURATOM inspectors; an ambiguous legacy of the original EURATOM concept that the IAEA would do no more than verify the efficacy of EURATOM’s safeguards.

To the uninitiated observer this sounds very much like a ‘joint team’!

Document GOV/INF/793, p. 7, para. 19.

Because MOX fuel is a mixture of low enriched uranium and plutonium oxides and because the plutonium can be directly used to make a nuclear device, plants producing MOX fuel and MOX fuelled reactors require more frequent inspection than plants that fabricate low enriched uranium fuel and reactors fuelled with low enriched uranium.

Reportedly four WWER-440 MW(e) nuclear power reactors.

Its political conditions had, in fact, been largely met. They were, for instance withdrawal of US tactical nuclear weapons from the Korean peninsula, halting the joint

USA–Republic of Korea annual (‘Team Spirit’) military manoeuvres.

The DPRK was far from alone in missing the deadline for the conclusion of its NPT safeguards agreement with the IAEA.


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Document INFCIRC/153, para. 62. The report should be sent within 30 days after the end of the month when the agreement entered into force. (It should also specify the location as well as the amounts and composition of the material.)

As noted elsewhere, the IAEA assumes that a nation embarking on a nuclear weapon programme will need 8 kg of plutonium for its first nuclear warhead.

However, it is generally believed that with experience this quantity can be reduced to 4–5 kg, or even less.

The plutonium, the nuclear waste from which it was said to have been separated, and traces of radioactive material on the surfaces of the radiochemical laboratory, were analysed in the laboratories of the IAEA and the USA.

As noted above, this procedure is foreseen in paragraphs 73 and 77 of the standard

IAEA safeguards agreement which permits the IAEA to send its inspectors to any location where it has reason to believe that undeclared nuclear material may exist.

For instance:

— In October 1993, after the IAEA’s General Conference had adopted a resolution declaring that the DPRK “had widened the area of non-compliance by not accepting ad hoc and routine inspections,” that country suspended all inspections.

— On 2 and 3 December 1993, Blix warned the Board that safeguards “cannot be said at present to provide any meaningful assurance of peaceful use” of the declared plants.

— After further discussions with the USA, the DPRK agreed, in effect, to freeze its programme and to unload the 5 MW(e) reactor only in the presence of IAEA inspectors. But — see below — in May 1994, the DPRK violated this agreement.

— Once again, on 21 March 1994, the Board of Governors formally declared that the IAEA was no longer able to verify that the DPRK had not diverted nuclear material and referred the matter to the Security Council. The Western members of the Council and Russia pressed for a resolution that would threaten the

DPRK with sanctions, but China objected.

— In April 1994, the DPRK authorities asked the IAEA to remove the seals from the fuel assemblies of the 5 MW(e) reactor so that the fuel could be withdrawn for reprocessing, which, they maintained (probably correctly), was essential for safety reasons. The IAEA explained that it would be necessary not only to observe the withdrawal and subsequent treatment of the fuel, but also to take samples to determine whether, as the DPRK maintained, the core being withdrawn was the first core of the reactor. However, the DPRK refused to allow any sampling.



— In May 1994, ignoring fresh warnings by the IAEA and the USA that the 5 MW(e) reactor should not be unloaded except in the presence of IAEA inspectors, the

DPRK operators broke the seals on the reactor and began to withdraw as quickly as possible its 8000 fuel rods. This breach of the safeguards agreement led to further IAEA reports to the Security Council on 19 and 27 May 1994.

— On 30 May, the President of the Council issued an agreed statement calling upon the DPRK forthwith to unload the 5 MW(e) reactor in a way that would permit the IAEA to do whatever it deemed necessary for effective verification.

On 2 June, the DPRK rejected the Council’s requests.









The substitution of light water reactors for graphite moderated reactors was justified on the grounds that light water reactors do not normally produce weapon grade plutonium.

If it did decide to do so it would have to reapply for membership and its application would have to be approved by the General Conference of the IAEA.

On one previous occasion the Board did report to the Council undeclared production of plutonium — by the Ceauçescu regime — but this was with the agreement of the new Romanian Government, which had brought the matter to the IAEA’s notice. The more incisive stance of the IAEA forced the DPRK onto the defensive, complaining that IAEA inspectors had behaved like policemen searching the house of a suspect instead of like invited guests!

The distinctive physical properties of nuclear materials make it possible to detect even minute traces and to correlate specific physical ‘signatures’ with specific nuclear operations such as reprocessing, enrichment, fuel fabrication and reactor operation. Samples of air, water or even swabs wiped on the surfaces of nuclear plants or equipment are analysed for traces of radioactive material. The technique involves the analysis of very small amounts of nuclear material contained in single particles. By this method uranium or plutonium can be detected and isotopically characterized in amounts as small as 10

–18 to 10

–15 grams.

Document INFCIRC/153, paras 92–94.

Document INFCIRC/207 and Addenda.

By the end of 1996, more than 50 States had chosen to participate in the expanded reporting scheme.

The way in which this system operates has often been compared with that of an auditor: the IAEA audits the nuclear accounts of all NPT non-nuclear-weapon

States. (See HOOPER, R., “Strengthening IAEA safeguards in an era of nuclear co-operation”, Arms Control Today (November 1995) 15.) As already noted, however, there would be no limit on the IAEA’s access rights in the case of a special inspection.


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 8







Until 1991, the IAEA had no information pointing to an undeclared facility or material in a State having a comprehensive safeguards agreement. It should be stressed that the 1971 system was designed to detect any diversion of nuclear material placed under safeguards (or required to be placed under safeguards). If the IAEA’s verification disclosed that a significant quantity of material was unaccounted for, this might point to the existence of an undeclared plant, for instance an enrichment plant where the material was being processed into nuclear explosives, or a reprocessing plant that was separating plutonium from spent fuel. No such diversion has been detected, and it is most unlikely that any has occurred.

For a more detailed assessment of ‘Programme 93 + 2’, see PELLAUD, B., Safeguards

and the Nuclear Industry, Core Issues No. 5, The Uranium Institute, London (1996) and HOOPER, R., “IAEA safeguards ‘Programme 93 + 2’”, prepared for the PPNN

Seminar, 7–8 March 1997, Harriman, NY. Available from the Programme for

Promoting Nuclear Non-Proliferation, Department of Politics, Mountbatten

Centre, University of Southampton, Southampton, 507 1BJ, United Kingdom.

Dr. Pellaud is currently Deputy Director General in charge of the Department of

Safeguards at the IAEA and Hooper is Director of the Division of Concepts and

Planning in that Department.

The Head of the South African Atomic Energy Corporation, Waldo Stumpf, told the author that when South Africa acceded to the NPT in July 1991, the Security

Council had recently approved the very intrusive inspection measures designed to uncover the full extent of the Iraqi programme and to eliminate it. The South

Africans feared that they would be faced with a spate of demands for special inspections, which they expected to be highly confrontational. To avoid this they had told the Agency that its inspectors could go to any place any time (within reason) in their country.

For instance, the IAEA might be required to give advance notice if its inspectors wished to enter such a structure. The occupants might have the right to cover sensitive equipment, provided that ‘managed access’ should not prevent the IAEA from meeting its safeguards objectives.

That is, non-nuclear-weapon States party to comprehensive safeguards agreements with the IAEA, concluded pursuant to INFCIRC/153.

On 31 December 1995, there were 181 parties to the NPT, 40 more than in 1990 (on

1 January 1991 there were 141 parties — SIPRI Yearbook 1991, Oxford University

Press, Oxford (1991) 668). The new adherents included global powers and regional leaders: China, France, South Africa and Argentina. Brazil, like Argentina, has accepted comprehensive IAEA safeguards under the Tlatelolco Treaty and the










171 agreement between ABACC and the IAEA. (By June 1997, the number of parties had risen to 185.)

Brazil is a party to the Tlatelolco Treaty but not to the NPT. Since the Tlatelolco

Treaty is permanent, the comprehensive safeguards agreement that Brazil has concluded with the IAEA, pursuant to that Treaty, is also permanent.

Annual Report for 1995, p. 77.

Separated plutonium and high enriched uranium are the materials that can most easily and quickly be used in warheads. However, 34 tonnes out of the 45.1 tonnes of separated plutonium were in nuclear weapon States, presumably most in the

United Kingdom, which has placed a large quantity of separated plutonium under safeguards.

The descriptions of SAL, NWAL and their work is based on the IAEA pamphlet,

International Atomic Energy Agency’s Laboratories: Seibersdorf, GEN/PUB/15, IAEA,

Vienna (1989) pp. 79–80.

Annual Report for 1994, p. 194.

Annual Report for 1995, p. 47. For the detection and analysis of samples of materials containing minute trace amounts of radionuclides, it is essential to have a laboratory area — a ‘clean room’ — that is as free as possible of any matter (dust, particles, vapour) that might contaminate the samples and distort the analysis. The Seibersdorf Clean Room became operational in 1996.

Annual Report for 1995, p. 45.

The new system was set forth in resolution GC(39)/RES/11, which the General

Conference adopted on 22 September 1995. Its main elements were:

(1) The budget would include a non-safeguards and a safeguards component.

(2) Poorer Member States, i.e. those “having per capita net national product of less that one third” of the average of the 15 richest members, would constitute a shielded group. A Member State could voluntarily opt out of the shielded group.

(3) All Member States would contribute to the non-safeguards component according to a standard scale derived from the UN scale of assessment

(4) Members of the shielded group would pay only half as much to the safeguards component as they would have under the standard scale, but with the proviso that no member of this group would have to contribute to any increase in the safeguards budget above the rate of inflation (i.e. above “zero real growth”).

(5) None of the ten countries making the largest contribution to the Agency’s regular budget could be a member of the shielded group, even if it would have qualified under (4).


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 8


(6) There would be a five year transitional period during which each shielded member would gradually move up from its 1995 safeguards contribution to the amount it would pay under the new system (i.e. the amount it would have to pay under (4)).

(7) Member States not belonging to the shielded group would make up the deficit in the safeguards budget caused by the reduced contributions of the shielded group.

This is a very controversial issue. In the early 1960s, the USA successfully tested a nuclear device fuelled with ‘reactor-grade plutonium’ — plutonium recovered from spent fuel ‘burned up’ for a relatively lengthy period in a power reactor and therefore having more than a prescribed proportion of certain radioisotopes. Testimony given to the US Congress in the 1980s confirmed that reactor-grade plutonium could be used as a nuclear explosive, but that because the plutonium would contain very radioactive isotopes, nuclear warheads made from the material could lead to undesirable radiation exposure of the personnel making the warheads and the military personnel handling them. There would be some risk of premature fission and the fuel would continue to generate heat.

Some nuclear authorities in Germany contend that the device tested in 1960 in the

USA used relatively low burnup plutonium and is therefore not comparable with the very high burnup plutonium recovered today from light water power reactors, and they imply that the latter is most unsuitable for weapon use. The Russian

Ministry of Atomic Energy goes further, bluntly maintaining that plutonium that might be recovered from the WWER (high burnup light water) power reactors that it plans to sell to India cannot be used to make nuclear weapons.




As far as is publicly known, none of the 90 000 or more nuclear warheads manufactured since 1945 has used reactor grade plutonium; it is simpler, cheaper, easier and safer to produce weapon grade plutonium.

Annual Report for 1993, GC(XXXVIII)/2, IAEA, Vienna (1994) 3.

IAEA Yearbook 1995, IAEA, Vienna (1995) C68–C71; and IAEA Yearbook 1996, IAEA,

Vienna (1996) C76–C78.

The parties have the right under Article X.1 to withdraw from the Treaty and thus terminate their NPT safeguards agreement with the IAEA. Only one State has sought to do so — the DPRK — but subsequently in effect reversed course. Now that the NPT is permanent it seems unlikely, though not impossible, that any nation will withdraw. To do so would be to invite suspicion that the nation concerned intended promptly to acquire nuclear weapons and thus challenge the norm that has been established against further proliferation.



C h a p t e r 9



T e c h n i c a l c o - o p e r a t i o n

T h e t e c h n o l o g i e s t r a n s f e r r e d

F or the great majority of the IAEA’s developing Member States the use of nuclear energy to generate electricity, or to heat or desalt water was and remains a distant prospect.


For these developing nations the chief beneficial uses of nuclear energy were and still are the myriad, relatively small scale, applications of nuclear techniques in agriculture, human health, industry, environment, hydrology and biological and physical research, as well as the use of research reactors as educational tools, and for the production of radioisotopes, especially for medical use.


T h e c h i e f b e n e f i c i a r i e s

The scientific infrastructure that a developing country needs to make use of these techniques is far less demanding than what it would need to support a nuclear power programme. Nonetheless, many even of these smaller scale uses of nuclear energy were and still are out of the reach of the least technically advanced countries. At the end of 1996, the Member States of the

IAEA included 20 countries considered in the category of least developed countries (LDCs) by UNDP.


Accordingly, the bulk of the IAEA’s country programmes and support of research has tended to flow towards developing nations that have already made significant technical and scientific progress.

Thus, in 1976 the IAEA noted that: “Of the 98 countries that have received technical assistance since 1958, only sixteen have received assistance of the value of more than one million dollars; each is a relatively populous developing country which is also relatively well advanced in the nuclear field.

Thirty-six developing countries, on the other hand, have received less than

$250 000 of technical assistance from all the resources available to the Agency.”


This pattern continued in the following years; from 1986 to 1996, 20 developing countries each received more that $6 000 000 worth of technical co-operation and 31 countries received less than $1 000 000.


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 9

Figure 1 demonstrates how prominently 20 of the more technically advanced amongst the developing countries have figured as recipients of technical assistance during the ten years from 1986 to 1995.


The leading beneficiaries were seven countries operating nuclear power plants (Brazil,

Bulgaria, China, Hungary, Pakistan, Mexico and Romania), three countries building or planning nuclear power plants (Cuba, Indonesia and Iran) and two countries that were planning to build nuclear power plants but had abandoned them after Chernobyl (Egypt and Poland). Only two countries characterized by UNDP as ‘least developed’ (Bangladesh and Tanzania) were amongst the 20.









Viet Nam










Korea, Rep. of


6 7 8 9 10 11

Millions of dollars

12 13 14

FIG. 1. The total IAEA technical co-operation programme, 1986–1996

(the 20 countries receiving the most assistance).



Eighteen of the 20 countries were operating or constructing one or more research reactors, the exceptions being Cuba, which has apparently suspended its earlier plans to build one, and Tanzania. Notable absentees from the 20 countries listed are Iraq and Yugoslavia, which were formerly significant recipients of technical aid, as well as Argentina and India, for reasons explained later.

But the IAEA has also made special efforts to serve the less advanced

Member States by undertaking projects designed to improve their scientific infrastructures and by helping to train and educate their scientists and technicians. Moreover, regional programmes are often of benefit to all the countries in the region, including those that are not able to play an active role in carrying them out. For instance, the IAEA and its laboratories have used isotope hydrology techniques to trace and measure the underground water resources of countries in the Sahel (the arid southern marches of the Sahara), although some of the nations concerned were not yet able to participate scientifically in the programme. The IAEA has also used the sterile insect technique to eliminate insect pests such as the ‘New World Screwworm’, a grave threat to man and cattle, which invaded Libya in 1988.


All neighbouring countries and many further afield benefited from this programme (described more fully in Chapter 10) even if they took no active part in carrying it out.

S c i e n t i f i c s u p p o r t o f I A E A t e c h n i c a l c o - o p e r a t i o n

Since the late 1950s, three of the IAEA Secretariat’s technical Divisions in the Department of Research and Isotopes have dealt chiefly with the applications of isotopes and radiation and encouraged their use in the developing countries.


The Divisions provide scientific and technical support for the IAEA’s technical co-operation programme; they launch the IAEA’s Co-ordinated

Research Programmes, promote information exchange and provide laboratory services and training at the IAEA’s laboratories. Since 1989–1990, two Divisions in the Department of Technical Co-operation have developed and administered the programme, one putting together the programme for each developing country in the regions concerned (Africa, East Asia and the Pacific, West Asia,

Latin America and Europe (East and West)), and the other arranging the delivery of various services (experts, fellows, equipment and training courses).


The IAEA’s laboratories also assist the technical co-operation programme; the Seibersdorf laboratories, for instance, have trained numerous scientists, chiefly from developing Member States, and helped them to set


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 9 up facilities for calibrating nuclear instruments, estimating radiation doses and analysing environmental samples. The IAEA’s Marine Environment

Laboratory at Monaco (MEL — the only such laboratory in the United

Nations system) has also trained fellows from developing countries.

W h a t i s a ‘ d e v e l o p i n g c o u n t r y ’ ?

In September 1984, delegations at the meeting of the Board of Governors and at the General Conference raised questions about the meaning that the

Secretariat was giving to the term ‘developing country’, in the context of a recommendation by the General Conference that such countries should be more fully represented on the staff of the Agency.


Clearly the matter also has implications for the IAEA’s technical co-operation programme which is primarily, but not exclusively, intended to benefit developing Member States.

The Director General sought the views of the G-77 on the subject and summarized them in a statement to the Board on 11 June 1985.


Essentially the G-77 dealt with the matter by referring to certain lists of countries attached to resolutions adopted by the United Nations General Assembly.


The Board’s discussion illustrated the difficulty of finding a precise and exhaustive definition of the term. In practice, the absence of such a definition has rarely given rise to problems and the Board clearly thought that any attempt to reach agreement as to which were and which were not ‘developing countries’ would be an academic and unrewarding exercise.

As noted earlier, all Member States are, in principle, eligible for the

IAEA’s assistance, unless they have been explicitly debarred from receiving it by a decision of the General Conference or the Security Council.


In practice, however, members of the OECD and other richer nations do not normally seek help financed by the IAEA’s Technical Co-operation Fund.

W h y n o t h a v e a s i n g l e U N a i d p r o g r a m m e f o r a l l t h e U N a g e n c i e s ?

From time to time the question has arisen why the IAEA should have its own programme, financed directly by contributions to its own Technical

Co-operation Fund. Would it not make sense for governments to channel all aid through UNDP instead of allotting some of the funds direct to the assistance programmes of various agencies? The beneficiary governments would then ask

UNDP to provide them with the funds they needed for the development of each


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A sector of their economy and society. In other words, recipient governments rather than donors would determine how the totality of available resources should be divided between competing sectors. If a recipient government accorded high priority to a nuclear project, and if the IAEA judged the project to be sound and affordable, it would ask UNDP to finance it — with the IAEA acting as the executing agency for UNDP — as is the case today when governments turn to UNDP for help in nuclear applications. But there would be no pressure on governments to draw up and put forward nuclear projects so as to be eligible for funds that donor governments had explicitly earmarked to the IAEA.


This is a logical argument and the UN family might have taken this path. In the early days of the IAEA, when UNDP was a major source of funding for its technical assistance programme, the Agency appeared to be moving in this direction with some support from donor countries.


However, for a number of reasons the agencies of the United Nations family have tended to become more rather than less administratively and financially independent of the UN and of each other.


One reason is that centralized planning and administration have not clearly emerged as the most effective way of dealing with the very diverse needs of a heterogeneous group of more than 150 countries at almost all levels of development. The most economically successful developing countries have demonstrated the advantages of a flexible and entrepreneurial approach to development. For the IAEA, excessive centralization would also pose other problems. When governments and planning commissions consider what assistance they can obtain from UNDP, the bigger and more powerful national constituencies, dealing with the traditional branches of agriculture, health and education, tend to corner the lion’s share of the funds available.

The IAEA illustrates the trend towards financial autonomy. Instead of moving towards greater dependence on UNDP, the IAEA’s UNDP-funded programme now “consists of only a few large scale projects”

16 and, as indicated in Fig. 2, has shrunk in the last two decades from almost half to only a few percentage points of the total technical co-operation programme.


Figure 2 also shows a considerable increase in the nominal value of the programme until 1989. The sharp drop in 1992 was due to the devaluation of the currency of a major donor, the rouble.

Political calculations have also played a role in enhancing the importance of the IAEA’s own funds as a resource for technical co-operation. To make the growth of the safeguards budget more acceptable to the G-77, the richer countries have been willing to support an annual increase in the target


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 9






1970 1975


Extrabudgetary donations

1980 1985 1990 1996


IAEA Technical Co-operation Fund

In-kind contributions from IAEA Member States

FIG. 2. Resources available for the IAEA technical co-operation programme, 1970–1996.

of the Technical Co-operation Fund as well as to separate the safeguards budget from the remainder of the regular budget and to freeze the contributions of poorer Member States to the cost of safeguards at the level that existed before the NPT entered into force in 1970.

Many governments have become dissatisfied with the way in which some agencies of the UN family spend their resources, with the amount of duplication, the proliferation of committees and floods of paper. The reluctance of the US Congress to settle the large US debt to the UN, US withdrawal from UNESCO in the 1980s, the more recent withdrawal of the USA from the

United Nations Industrial Development Organization and the withdrawal threatened by the United Kingdom, Australia and possibly Germany, are symptoms of this discontent. The IAEA’s reputation for sound management and the value that the leading donors attach to the IAEA’s safeguards and nuclear safety missions seem likely to preserve it from the radical surgery that


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A may be forced upon other agencies. The IAEA‘s technical co-operation programme may be immune because of its growing emphasis on nuclear safety, the role it is seen to play in making safeguards more palatable, the perception that it has brought concrete economic and social benefits, and the effective use it has made of the funds available to it.

T h e e v o l u t i o n o f t h e t e c h n i c a l a s s i s t a n c e

( t e c h n i c a l c o - o p e r a t i o n ) p r o g r a m m e

Chapters 5, 6 and 8 underline that from the outset there was little demand for the nuclear material put at the IAEA’s disposal, that the IAEA faced grave initial difficulties and delays in launching safeguards and that nuclear power also took off much more slowly that had been expected ten years earlier. As the IAEA programmes in these fields failed to gain momentum, technical assistance rapidly emerged as the IAEA’s major programme and maintained its lead until the late 1960s. As noted, the programme consisted chiefly of helping developing countries to make use of radioisotope and radiation techniques.

The IAEA’s first step was to draw attention to the benefits that developing Member States could derive from these techniques. In 1958, the IAEA began to send out multidisciplinary ‘Preliminary Assistance Missions’

(PAMs). The missions consisted of staff members who were expert in the use of these techniques in medicine, agriculture and hydrology, in nuclear power, in prospecting for and mining nuclear materials and in the use of research reactors. By the end of 1959, PAMs had surveyed the potential uses of nuclear science and nuclear energy in 40 developing Member States and by the time the missions came to an end more than 50 countries had been visited.


The Prepcom had noted that the main factor limiting the use of nuclear techniques in many developing countries was the lack of trained personnel.

Hence, from the early years until today the programme has given priority to the award of fellowships and the organizing of training courses. As noted, the first General Conference set a 1958 target of $250 000 for voluntary contributions to launch a fellowship programme. By the end of the year the programme had made a quick start with the award of 218 fellowships.


By the mid-1990s, the programme was awarding about 1000 fellowships every year and paying for the participation of approximately 1800 persons in its training courses.


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 9

Although the Statute enjoins the IAEA, in allocating its resources, to bear “in mind the special needs of the underdeveloped areas of the world,” it is also “based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its members...”


Accordingly, from its inception, the IAEA has taken the position that all

Member States are eligible for technical assistance under the IAEA’s own programme.


This was of much benefit to nuclear science in Eastern European countries since the citizens of the countries concerned were thus eligible for coveted IAEA fellowships. Given Cold War restrictions on travel, these fellowships were also highly prized by their hosts in the West who had lost touch with their Eastern colleagues for nearly twenty years.


The USA took a parental interest in the Agency and did its best to help it through its teething troubles. To launch the assistance programme it offered the services of 20–30 consultants as well as the entire cost of the 1958 fellowship programme, a radioisotope laboratory, two mobile isotope laboratories and a small reactor (the last offer was not taken up).


The first mobile laboratory arrived in Vienna in October 1958. The IAEA used it in Austria, Greece, Yugoslavia and Germany and then shipped it to

East Asia. The second, handed over in December 1959, was used in Mexico and Argentina.


These novel vehicles attracted attention to the IAEA and its work and provided valuable training to local scientists.

The 1958 programme consisted solely of selecting and placing fellows.

In 1959, it was broadened to include the provision of expert services, scientific equipment that the experts might need, arrangements for ‘visiting professors’ and training courses.


After much debate, the first Board recommended and the 1958 General

Conference agreed that the IAEA should seek participation in the UN

Expanded Programme of Technical Assistance (EPTA). Some of the arguments advanced against participation were not without force. It was maintained that the established specialized agencies would continue to receive an unduly large share of EPTA’s resources, that governments would only direct a small share of their requests to the very novel activities that the IAEA would wish to help and, more fancifully, that participation in EPTA would lead to the assimilation of the

IAEA into the specialized agencies at some cost to its special status in the UN system.


In 1963, the Board decided that fellowships paid for out of IAEA funds should be reserved for students from Member States that were currently receiving assistance from EPTA’s country programmes.


In 1960, in order to regulate and harmonize the conditions for providing technical assistance, the Board approved the ‘Guiding Principles and General



Operating Rules’ to be applied in carrying out the programme. These

Principles were subsequently embodied in a ‘Supplementary Agreement’ that each State receiving assistance was required to sign.

Until 1977 the technical assistance projects financed from the IAEA’s own funds consisted of “a collection of relatively small projects involving at a maximum twelve man-months of expert services and some equipment.”


Larger multi-year projects were funded by UNDP. In 1978, the IAEA, following the advice of a group of experts, introduced multi-year projects into its own programme. The expert group also recommended closer monitoring of the execution of technical assistance projects.


In 1976 and 1977, the Board debated the extent to which safeguards should be applied to the technical assistance operation. As usual at that time

Governors expressed sharply conflicting views on this and on any other issue involving the application of safeguards. In September 1977, the Board decided that safeguards would normally be applied to a technical assistance project if it made a “substantial contribution” to a “sensitive technological area” — in other words, an activity involving enrichment, reprocessing, production of heavy water, handling of plutonium or the manufacture of MOX fuel.


The imprints of the London Club and the NSG’s Guidelines (see Chapter 8) were apparent in this decision and it was sharply criticized by the Governors from countries not party to the NPT. In practice, at least since 1977, the IAEA has given no technical assistance that would help a national nuclear programme in a ‘sensitive technological area’.

In 1979, after four years of study in the Secretariat, the Board approved a revised version of the ‘Guiding Principles and General Operating Rules’ for the provision of technical assistance. This was preceded by an unusually heated debate and a roll-call vote on the new version. At the heart of the debate was the question of how the prohibition of diversion or misuse of the IAEA’s technical assistance should be worded.


The 1960 version of the rules had required the receiving country to undertake not to use IAEA assistance in such a way as to

“further any military purpose”. This was essentially the proscription used in

Articles II and XI of the IAEA Statute and in safeguards agreements concluded before 1975. After India had carried out what it termed a ‘peaceful’ nuclear explosion in 1974, the text of safeguards agreements was changed so as to prohibit the use of safeguarded items to make nuclear weapons or other explosive

devices or for any other military purpose. This change reflected the formula used in the NPT, prohibiting non-nuclear-weapon States from manufacturing or otherwise acquiring nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 9

The revised version of the Guiding Principles and General Operating

Rules submitted by the Secretariat now contained a prohibition similar to that used by the NPT and in recent safeguards agreements.


A handful of

Governors representing developing States that were not party to the NPT objected strenuously to this change, maintaining that it was neither required by nor in conformity with the IAEA Statute, and that NPT type commitments should not be forced upon States that had not joined the Treaty. But a substantial majority of the members of the Board was in favour of the revised version. The vote was 22 for, 3 against (Argentina, Brazil and India) and

4 abstaining (Guatemala, the Republic of Korea, Tanzania and Venezuela).

The revised principles and rules were then incorporated in a ‘Revised Supplementary Agreement’.

The Indian Governor announced that India was “no longer interested in receiving technical assistance from the Agency since it could not give its consent to an undertaking which contravened the Statute.”


Argentina followed suit and withdrew from the technical co-operation programme. Brazil and Pakistan were prepared to accept the new conditions in the Revised Supplementary

Agreement, but only on a case by case basis, and did not sign the Agreement until 1991 and 1994, respectively. Argentina returned to participate in the technical co-operation programme in 1991. India maintained its refusal to sign the Revised Supplementary Agreement and has not participated in the technical co-operation programme (except for some training courses) since 1979.

The issue that caused so much argument in the Board was one of principle rather than of any practical importance. It was difficult to imagine how IAEA technical assistance in, for instance, agriculture, medicine or hydrology could be used to develop a nuclear weapon or other explosive device, or indeed to further any military purpose. But it was conceivable that an engineer who received IAEA training in certain aspects of nuclear technology, for example in radiochemistry, might put his or her expertise to work in a nuclear weapon programme, or that uranium ore found or mined with the IAEA’s help might, after processing and enrichment, wind up in a nuclear weapon.

In the same year (1979) many Governors welcomed the introduction of large scale multi-year projects into the technical assistance programme, but the Federal Republic of Germany still maintained that such projects should be financed by UNDP rather than by the IAEA.

In 1983, the Board undertook its first review of technical co-operation policies. It directed the Secretariat to help developing Member States in establishing priorities in drawing up requests for assistance.


In the same year the



Agency began to evaluate systematically what impact IAEA technical co-operation projects were having in the beneficiary countries. The Board approved the creation in the Department of Technical Co-operation of a special unit for this purpose. In 1987, evaluation of 63 projects concluded that the Secretariat had

“responded effectively” to the challenge of a rapidly growing programme and that the projects were contributing to the transfer of technology. The evaluation also showed that the two most common problems faced by technical cooperation projects were those of arranging for adequate training of personnel selected to carry out the projects and shortages of national counterpart staff.


In November 1986, the Technical Assistance and Co-operation

Committee recommended to the Board an experimental change from a one to two year cycle for the entire programme. This experiment was successful, giving more time to prepare and technically appraise projects. In 1991, the

Board confirmed that the two year cycle would henceforth be the norm.


T h e c o n c e p t u a l e v o l u t i o n o f t h e p r o g r a m m e

For the dozen or so developing countries that were preparing to introduce nuclear power, the role of the IAEA was often indispensable. To those for whom nuclear power was a distant prospect, the IAEA transferred, as we have seen, nuclear techniques for use in industry, human health, agriculture, management of water resources, etc. The latter projects were usually small, involving a single instrument or technique, a training course and a fellowship or two, and a few months of the services of an expert. Nonetheless, their cumulative effect on the ability of the recipient country to undertake projects in nuclear science and technology was significant. The basic principle was that in the absence of technical foundations on which to build — manpower, skills and other resources — development cannot succeed. Another crucial role of technical co-operation was to help create the regulatory framework for the safe use of nuclear energy and radioactive materials, for the safe disposal of nuclear waste and for the provision of essential services such as radiation dosimetry.

In March 1995, the Board endorsed the Director General’s proposal for a ‘Standing Advisory Group on Technical Assistance and Co-operation’

(SAGTAC), consisting of 12 members from developing and industrialized

Member States to advise him on the IAEA’s technical co-operation activities, particularly on policy and strategy matters, and to recommend measures for increasing the effectiveness of the programme.



P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 9

The achievement of many of the main original objectives of the technical co-operation programme, the impact of Chernobyl and the consequences of the breakup of the Soviet Union have led to a fundamental evolution in the programme’s aims, direction, modus operandi and content. During the first 30 years, the principal objective of the IAEA’s assistance was to help developing Member States to create the institutions and facilities that would enable them to introduce and enlarge the role of nuclear technology or apply nuclear techniques and to do so safely and effectively. An illustration of its achievements was that by the end of 1996 the IAEA had helped train more than 19 000 scientists, engineers and technicians under its fellowship programmes. From 1980 to 1996 it had held 1558 training courses.


By the end of the 1980s, this phase of institution building was largely completed and the time was ripe to concentrate the programme on the development process itself — in other words to seek to ensure that the programme would have a cost efficient, direct and measurable impact on the high priority economic or social needs of the country being assisted, an impact well beyond the institute through which the activity was carried out. In this way the Agency and the beneficiary country would become partners in development, strengthening the ability of national institutions to define, organize and manage applications of nuclear technology. To give a concrete example, the programme should assist projects that would put new varieties of crops or better practices for dealing with pests in the hands of the farmer rather than lead to a new scientific publication by an institute of higher learning.

To achieve these goals the Secretariat identified three concepts. The first was the ‘Model Project’; the criteria that a Model Project had to meet were that it had to respond to a well assessed need of the country, produce a significant economic or social achievement by the end-user (who, together with the recipient institute, must be involved from the start), use nuclear technology only if it had a distinct advantage over other technologies and was demonstrably sustainable because of a strong commitment by the government concerned. The IAEA would also closely monitor and evaluate progress in carrying out the Model Project. In 1993, the Board approved the first

12 such projects, followed by 11 more in 1994.


The second concept was the ‘Country Programme Framework’. The

IAEA and the government should identify and agree upon a few priority areas for technical co-operation that can produce significant impacts. The process would, of course, have to take into account the technical capacity of


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A the country concerned. The Country Programme Framework would point to opportunities for Model Projects.

The third concept was that of thematic or sectoral planning. The thematic plan should provide evidence that, when compared with non-nuclear alternatives, a particular nuclear technique would offer the most efficient way of reaching a development objective in a particular sector. It should indicate in which regions or countries the application of particular nuclear techniques would be most relevant and identify those countries that have the capacity to use the technique. It would be for the country concerned to decide whether to include in its Country Programme Framework the project or opportunity identified by thematic planning.

T h e p r i m a c y o f s a f e t y

Since meeting basic safety standards is a precondition for all activities involving ionizing radiation, the first thematic plan to become operational was in radiation protection. Other priority themes would be waste management and the safety of nuclear power plants.

Chernobyl had already brought about a greater emphasis on nuclear safety and waste disposal in the technical co-operation programme. The end of the Cold War and the breakup of the Soviet Union also brought into the

Agency several new Member States with pressing needs in nuclear safety.

Except in Romania, all the nuclear power reactors operating or under construction in Eastern Europe and in the Soviet Union’s successor States had been designed and operated according to Soviet safety standards which, in some respects, were inferior to or incompatible with international standards.

A conspicuous example was the absence of the containment dome which is the most visible feature of power reactors built to international standards.


Chapter 7, on nuclear safety and waste management, provides examples of the actions and projects that the IAEA undertook to help the countries concerned bring up their nuclear plants, in particular their WWER power reactors, to international safety standards.

H e l p t o d e v e l o p i n g c o u n t r i e s w i t h d y n a m i c n u c l e a r p o w e r p r o g r a m m e s

A limited number of developing countries are introducing nuclear power. In such cases the technical co-operation programme has helped the


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 9 governments concerned to plan their programmes and to focus on nuclear plant safety. Thus, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the programme helped the Republic of (South) Korea establish a framework for the dynamic nuclear power programme it was launching and, in particular, to establish the safety infrastructure of the programme. The IAEA had played a similar role in the early days of the Spanish programme.

In introducing nuclear power, China needed special help to bring its safety standards and practices up to international levels. The Chinese authorities simply took over the entire body of the Nuclear Safety Standards (NUSS), translated them into Chinese and adopted them by national legislation.

OSARTs from the IAEA also helped to evaluate the safety of the Chinese designed Qinshan reactor, the first nuclear power reactor to be built on Chinese soil. An OSART mission concluded that the safety of the reactor fully met international standards. The IAEA also helped train large numbers of Chinese nuclear engineers and safety experts.


T h e p r o g r a m m e ’ s r e s o u r c e s

Since it began work in 1958, the IAEA has depended on the following funds/sources for the transfer of nuclear technology to developing countries:

— The Technical Co-operation Fund (TCF),

42 financed by the voluntary financial contributions of Member States. This has become by far the largest source of funds at the disposal of the IAEA for the transfer of nuclear technology.

— Extrabudgetary funds. These consist chiefly of two groups:

• Those available to all organizations of the UN family and administered by special United Nations bodies (such as UNDP — and its precursor, EPTA, which was subsequently complemented by the

Special Fund).

• Numerous earmarked ‘research contributions’ by Member States, such as the Italian contribution to the Trieste Centre, and the so-called

‘footnote a/’ projects.


— ‘Contributions in kind’, i.e. gifts of the services of experts and fellowships or other opportunities for training offered at no cost or limited cost to the IAEA, and equipment similarly provided by Member States.



— The regular budget, i.e. assessed contributions which Member States are required by the Statute to pay to the IAEA. In principle, under the

Statute, regular budget funds are not available for assistance to individual

Member States. In practice, however, the regular budget bears:

• The cost of administering all Agency activities, including those of the safeguards and technical co-operation programmes funded by the

TCF and extrabudgetary donations from Member States.


• The costs incurred by the Agency when members of the Secretariat serve as technical officers for individual projects and provide scientific and technical services.

• The IAEA’s share of the cost of contracts awarded under Co-ordinated

Research Programmes. As pointed out elsewhere, in principle these contracts are designed to procure scientific services that the IAEA itself requires in support of its programmes. In practice, the contracts are normally of direct benefit to the country in which they are carried out as well as to the IAEA’s programmes.


Over time the relative importance of each source has varied widely. In the early years the contributions of various United Nations funds and ‘contributions in kind’ were comparable in magnitude to the funds provided by the IAEA itself via what is now called the TCF. However, the TCF now dwarfs all other sources (see Fig. 2). The IAEA Secretariat suggests several reasons why the role of UNDP in funding the IAEA’s programme has declined so sharply since the early years. The central planners in the governments of developing countries, who have a crucial role in submitting requests to UNDP, are often unaware of the contribution that nuclear techniques could make to their national development and may prefer to give help to more traditional activities. The influence of nuclear energy authorities in the governments concerned, never very strong, has been declining.

Many of the larger UN agencies have their own country representatives who push their own projects; the IAEA relies on UNDP representatives who are often unfamiliar with nuclear techniques.

F u n d i n g t h e t e c h n i c a l c o - o p e r a t i o n p r o g r a m m e

The target for voluntary contributions to the technical assistance programme (since 1982, the technical co-operation programme) rose sharply from

$125 000 in 1958 to $1 500 000 in 1959. But there were no further significant


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 9 increases for several years; indeed, from 1962 until 1970 the target remained fixed at $2 000 000. One reason was that from 1959 onwards, the IAEA encountered a problem that continues to dog it today — a widening gap between the target set each year and the amount that States were willing to pledge and, less frequently in recent years, a further gap between the amounts pledged and actual payments. For example, in 1959 the amount pledged towards the $1 500 000 target was only $1 183 044

46 and the amount paid was $875 000.


Five years later, in 1963, the target had risen to $2 000 000 but by June 1964 the amount pledged was $1 437 394 and payments amounted to only $1 192 797.


Recurrent shortfalls of this magnitude stimulated numerous proposals for placing the financing of technical assistance on a firmer basis. For instance, it has often been proposed that the Statute be amended so as to incorporate the funds for technical assistance in the regular budget which, as noted, is financed by assessed and not by voluntary contributions. The proponents of such an amendment saw this as the only practical way of ensuring a secure and predictable source of funds.

A further problem was that while contributions to the regular budget must be made in a convertible currency, voluntary contributions to the TCF may be made in whatever currency the donor chooses. The IAEA Secretariat ran into difficulty in disposing of stacks of non-convertible currencies, in persuading experts sent to certain countries to be paid in part in national currencies and in convincing scientists from the developing countries to accept some of the training opportunities offered by countries that were not particularly renowned for their expertise in nuclear science or technology.


In 1961 and 1962, the General Conference appealed to each Member State to contribute an amount to the General Fund (i.e. for technical assistance) equal to or greater than its percentage of the regular budget.


Many States have met this appeal. However, as Fig. 3 shows, the problem of shortfalls remains critical

— though the causes of the shortfall naturally vary with changes in the economic circumstances of the main donors and their policies towards UN family programmes. Figure 3 also shows that, since 1984, the main problem has been the widening gap between the annual target and the contributions pledged towards that target rather than the gap between pledges and payments.

Ta r g e t s , p l e d g e s a n d p a y m e n t s t o t h e T C F

In the 1970s, the IAEA’s assistance programme began to forge ahead. As noted in Chapter 6, the funds and contributions from all sources increased


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A eightfold in nominal value from 1960 to 1980 (from $2 526 000 to $20 947 000).


The growth of the TCF or its precursors was even more marked, from $1 008 000 in 1960 to approximately $13 301 000 in 1980.


Despite the inroads of inflation this was indeed a large increase. Member States also made pledges that came close to the targets set each year, in 1974 the total amount pledged actually exceeded the target by 2.8%

53 and the payments were even higher than the pledges (Fig. 3).

As the programme expanded the problem of making good use of contributions to the TCF in the form of non-convertible currencies grew steadily more difficult. Thus, in 1978, when the funds available for the TCF stood at approximately $10 million, there was a deficit of $2.1 million in the amount available for approved projects for which only convertible currencies could be used and a corresponding surplus of $2.1 million in non-convertible funds.

With the help of the main contributors of non-convertible currencies the situation improved in 1979,

54 and by 1980 the surplus of non-convertible currencies had declined to $542 000.






Target = 100%






1970 1975 1980


1985 1990

FIG. 3. Patterns of pledges and income for the IAEA’s Technical

Co-operation Fund.



P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 9

As requests for assistance began greatly to exceed the financial resources available, the Secretariat began in 1976 to identify technically sound requests for assistance that could not be funded, so as to encourage potential donors to step in and provide the IAEA with the funds to carry out these projects


— what were called ‘footnote a/’ projects. In effect, this was a means whereby donor countries could, if they so wished, selectively help developing countries that had joined the NPT. (The IAEA could not discriminate in its own programmes between States that were or were not party to the



The total value of projects financed this way has grown from about

$400 000 in 1976 to $7 079 880 in 1996.


In March 1980, Egypt, supported by India and several other developing countries, renewed the proposal to incorporate the financing of technical co-operation in the IAEA’s regular (assessed) budget and pressed the Board to set up a committee to study the problem. The Board subsequently established an open-ended working group for this purpose. The Soviet Union as well as the USA, the Western Europeans, Australia and Japan strongly resisted the Egyptian proposal. The informal working group began its meetings at the end of April 1980 but was unable to reach agreement.


Several further attempts were made in the following years, but equally without success.

The target and the resources available for technical co-operation continued to rise until 1989 when the total amounted to about $50 088 000. The TCF accounted for $44 687 000 of this amount, more than three times the 1980 figure ($13 301 000). It was agreed that there would be an annual increase of

$3.5 million in the target for the TCF but the inability of the USSR/Russia and other successor States to contribute significantly to the programme caused a decline in resources in 1990 and 1992 (particularly sharp in the latter year).

Despite this discouraging drop, the IAEA was able to include “over 80% of the requests received” in the 1993–1994 biennial programme.


In 1993, as the

1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference approached, the upward trend resumed and in 1995 the total funds available for technical co-operation amounted to around $63 352 000, of which the TCF accounted for $60 300 000.

The wide fluctuations in the amount of money available for technical assistance could lead to uncertainty whether approved projects would in fact be carried out and thus reduce the cost effectiveness of the operation for beneficiary governments, as well as for the IAEA. This uncertainty would have been particularly disconcerting at a time when the planning of the programme was increasingly long term and it consisted of larger projects designed to have a significant social or economic impact. This was one of the


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A concerns that led many developing countries to press for assured and predictable funding of the programme. The Secretariat avoided disruption of the programme by making very careful and precise estimates of expected income and by monthly monitoring of income and disbursements. Largely as a consequence of this cautious approach, the IAEA has never had to cancel or defer an approved technical co-operation project because of insufficient funds.

In 1990, the General Conference asked the Board to take steps to ensure that technical assistance was funded by “predictable and assured resources”, and in 1992 the Board again established an informal working group on the financing of technical assistance.


The working group was unable to reach a consensus on any specific proposals, but in 1995 the Board encouraged the

Secretariat to seek financial support for technical co-operation projects from national development agencies administrating ‘bilateral funds’ and from international financial bodies. Experience with the recently instituted Model

Projects had shown that more funds could be obtained if the projects were of sufficiently high quality and if the beneficiary country was also prepared to seek bilateral funding.


C h a n g e s i n t h e d i s t r i b u t i o n o f r e s o u r c e s a m o n g t e c h n i c a l p r o g r a m m e s

From the early days until the mid-1980s (i.e. until Chernobyl), an amount equal to 15–20% of the disbursements under the programme went to each of four groups of projects, namely those relating to the use of nuclear techniques in: food and agriculture; medicine; physical and chemical sciences


; and radiation protection and nuclear safety. Applications in industry and earth sciences (e.g. hydrology and geology) also accounted for more than 10%.

In the late 1960s and 1970s, the proportion of funds spent on projects directly related to nuclear power rose markedly, but fell again in the succeeding years. As noted in Chapter 7, in the 1980s, and particularly after

Chernobyl, governments and the IAEA gave increasing attention to nuclear safety and safety related activities.

In 1994, ‘nuclear safety’ overtook all other components, accounting for

22.9% of the programme. Food and agriculture came second with 22.4%.

Other significant components were physical and chemical sciences (17.3%), human health (13.1%), and industry and earth sciences including hydrology



P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 9

Interest in receiving assistance for nuclear power programmes in countries engaged in or contemplating such programmes decreased dramatically after the 1979 Three Mile Island accident. A small recovery in 1984–1985 was followed by another and continuing decline after 1986 (Chernobyl).

Although the IAEA has helped to carry out numerous assessments of the pros and cons of introducing nuclear power and a number of surveys of particular nuclear power projects, has trained many nuclear engineers and has served as nominal supplier of nuclear power plants and their fuel in

Mexico and Yugoslavia, the Agency’s technical assistance programme has not been directly involved in the building of any nuclear power plant or other major fuel cycle plant.

C h a n g e s i n t h e f o r m s o f t e c h n i c a l h e l p p r o v i d e d

Table I shows changes in the shares of the main components of the technical co-operation programme: services of experts, equipment, fellowships and training courses. It does not cover the 55 or so regional or interregional training courses that the IAEA has been holding in recent years, which account for about 10–15% of the cost of the technical co-operation programme.

In recent years the IAEA has been sending out about 2000 experts each year, dealing with the roughly 150 scientific subjects covered by the technical co-operation programme.

Since 1971, the cost of equipment provided has been kept at about 40% of the total programme, although for States that have difficulty in finding the means of buying imported equipment it may constitute the largest share of the value of assistance provided. This applies particularly to the least developed countries in Africa and Asia.

Of the three main components of technical assistance, fellowship training is often the most difficult to provide and takes the longest time to arrange.

This is partly because the IAEA is required to arrange the acceptance and placing of fellows through governmental channels. Delays of 18 months in the processing of requests are not uncommon. Placing fellows of certain nationalities can be very difficult even if the training sought for them is in agricultural, medical or environmental applications of nuclear science where the techniques involved are remote from any conceivable military, let alone nuclear explosive, use.






Total programme

(million $)





Fellowships and other training


































a b

Annual Report 1 July 1970–30 June 1971, GC(XV)/455, IAEA, Vienna (1971), pp. 11–12, paras

24–25. The report does not give the percentage of the programme taken by fellowships but notes that experts and equipment accounted for 52% of the aid requested in this form and that the share of resources allocated to equipment in 1970 amounted to 25%.

In 1990 and 1995, training courses were listed as a separate component. It is presumed that in

1980 and earlier years they were included in the fellowships component. In 1990, fellowships accounted for 15.5% of funds spent and training courses for 15.4%. The corresponding shares for 1995 were fellowships 18.5% and training courses 12.4%.

NA: Not available.

S e r v i c i n g t h e p r o g r a m m e

In the late 1950s, three specialized units in three different Departments were set up to manage the technical assistance programme: a Division dealing with fellowships, another servicing all forms of technical assistance except fellowships, and a co-ordinating Division. In the early 1960s, Sigvard Eklund put an end to this irrational arrangement by creating a Department to manage all technical assistance and by scrapping the co-ordination Division and eventually replacing it with a co-ordination Section in the office of the Head of the Department.

Nonetheless, the Department of Technical Assistance remained largely reactive, and its approach was fragmented. Delegations would come to the


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 9 annual General Conference with a shopping list of often unrelated requests which the IAEA would evaluate for technical soundness and to which it would parcel out available funds. The fact that assistance came from so many different sources was conducive to such a fragmentation. As time went on the

IAEA encouraged applicant States to draw up better integrated and longer term country programmes. As noted, in 1982 the Agency introduced a two year programming cycle and in 1992 introduced the concept of Model

Projects that were designed to surmount significant technical barriers to development in the countries concerned rather than to build up infrastructures in particular research institutions.

R e g i o n a l c o - o p e r a t i o n u n d e r t h e I A E A

One of the first essays that the IAEA made in the domain of technical assistance was a mission to Latin America in May 1958 in response to a proposal by Brazil to study the need for and the means of establishing one or more regional training centres.


Unfortunately, the countries concerned were unable to reach agreement on the project.

After a visit by an IAEA mission to eight African and Middle Eastern

Member States to evaluate proposals for regional radioisotope training centres, the Board of Governors decided in 1960 to endorse the request of the

United Arab Republic (Egypt) to establish the centre in Cairo for the Arab countries. The Board also endorsed the Secretariat’s proposal that before the centre was established the Director General should arrange in Cairo as a ‘test’ a series of training courses and report to the Board on the results. After two such courses the centre was inaugurated on 18 March 1963.


In 1972, the IAEA launched its first agreement for standing regional co-operation in the nuclear field, the Regional Co-operative Agreement for

Research, Development and Training Related to Nuclear Science and Technology (RCA) — for Asia. The experiment was politically as well as technically successful. As a result, researchers from India and Pakistan — as well as from other nations in the region — began working together in fields as diverse as the optimum use of research reactors and the application of nuclear science techniques in breeding new varieties of food crops. By bringing together scientists from the region who are working in the same field, the RCA’s periodic and specialized meetings provided a forum for exchanging information, comparing problems and results and avoiding unnecessary duplication.




The RCA subsequently attracted the support of industrialized nations in the region, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, which have funded certain

Co-ordinated Research Programmes as well as technical co-operation projects within the framework of the RCA. The agreement, which is reviewed every five years, has been extended several times.

In the light of this encouraging experience the Agency promoted similar agreements in Latin America (ARCAL — Regional Co-operative Arrangements for the Promotion of Nuclear Science and Technology in Latin America, which entered into force in 1982) and in Africa (AFRA — African Co-operative

Agreement for Research, Development and Training Related to Nuclear

Science and Technology, which entered into force in 1990).


AFRA and RCA are intergovernmental undertakings and ARCAL is an arrangement between institutions.

The three regional agreements aim to promote:

— Technical co-operation between the developing countries themselves,

— Sharing of resources, including facilities, equipment and manpower,

— Pooling of knowledge and closer communication and collaboration between scientists in the region.

By the end of 1996, 17 nations were members of the RCA, 19 of ARCAL and

21 of AFRA.

E P T A , t h e S p e c i a l F u n d a n d U N D P

In 1958, the Economic and Social Council approved the IAEA’s participation in the United Nations Expanded Programme of Technical Assistance

(EPTA) and the UN Special Fund. The IAEA subsequently concluded an agreement with EPTA setting the terms under which any government eligible to participate in EPTA could make use of help given by the Agency whether or not it was an IAEA Member State. It will be seen from Table I in Annex 3 that EPTA soon began to finance a considerable share of the IAEA’s technical assistance programme, its contribution rising from $304 000 in 1959, to

$633 000 in 1960 and to $1 317 000 in 1965 more in fact than the contribution from the IAEA’s own funds that year ($1 200 000). Throughout the 1960s,

EPTA and the Special Fund remained a source of funds comparable to (and in

1965, outstripping slightly) the IAEA’s own programme.


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 9

After that, however, the IAEA’s share began to rise, reaching more than double the EPTA/UNDP contribution by the mid-1970s (for instance, in 1976 the share of the IAEA was $6 221 000 and that of UNDP was $3 002 000). By

1985, UNDP’s share was less than one tenth of that of the IAEA (IAEA

$30 681 000 and UNDP $2 654 000). By 1995, the IAEA’s input had risen to

$60 300 000 million and UNDP’s had fallen to $1 355 000 million.


C o n t r i b u t i o n s i n k i n d

Contributions in the form of fellowships, expert services and equipment were also an important source for technical assistance operations in the

IAEA’s early years. Assessment of the monetary value of such gifts is always somewhat arbitrary, but during most of the 1960s they were estimated to be comparable with those of contributions in cash. They fluctuated around much the same level until 1977, while the level of monetary contributions rose rapidly.


As a result, by 1980 the value of contributions in kind was only about one fifth of the IAEA TCF input ($2 628 000 compared with $13 301 000) and by 1995 only 3.5% ($1 877 000 compared with $60 300 000).


B a l a n c e b e t w e e n ‘ p r o m o t i o n a l ’ a n d

‘ r e g u l a t o r y ’ a c t i v i t i e s

After the entry into force of the NPT in 1970, the target for voluntary contributions, after remaining relatively unchanged for several years, began to climb again. As already noted, it is likely that the major donor countries agreed to raise the target as a means of encouraging support for safeguards and the NPT. For the same reasons they agreed in 1971 to establish a separate scale of contributions to the budget for safeguards. Since then, these measures have put an effective brake on any significant increase in the contributions of the poorer countries to the safeguards budget (see Chapter 8).

The 1973 Arab–Israeli war and the 1973–1974 oil price rise led many developing countries to begin planning nuclear power programmes, and hence to seek help in training their engineers and to request other forms of assistance they would need in carrying out these programmes. This naturally led the developing countries to press for more resources for technical assistance, and they began to call for a balance between the budgets for the IAEA’s



‘regulatory’ and ‘promotional’ activities. In other words, as the budgets for

IAEA safeguards and for nuclear and radiation safety increased, so too should the target for contributions to the TCF.

The representative of Egypt succinctly put the case for such a balance in a statement to the Board on 5 March 1980: “...the IAEA could retain the confidence of all Member States only by maintaining a fair balance between technical assistance and its regulatory activities.”


One of the issues that the concept of ‘a balance’ raises is discussed in the final chapter of this book.

Suffice it to say here that since 1980, the unforeseen and indirect effect of seeking a balance between ‘regulatory’ and ‘promotional’ activities, coupled with zero growth in the IAEA’s regular budget, has been to cap the safeguards budget in real terms, while the total contributions to the TCF have continued to rise, except in 1990 and 1992 when the precipitous devaluation of the rouble caused a sharp fall in the real value of the Russian contribution. The effects since 1980 of zero growth in the regular budget, coupled with increasing targets for the TCF, are shown in Table II. The tables in Annex 3 provide a more detailed statistical analysis of the growth of and fluctuations in the technical co-operation programme from 1957 to 1995.




Year 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995

Regular budget for Agency programmes

7 938 00 12 250 000 32 175 000 78 935 000 91 611 000 158 348 000 205 517 000

Target for voluntary contributions to TCF or precursor

2 000 000 2 000 000 4 500 000 10 500 000 26 000 000 45 500 000 61 500 000

Budget for safeguards

354 000 1 272 000 4 802 000 19 396 000 32 574 000 54 486 000 72 745 000


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 9

R e s e a r c h s u p p o r t

In 1958, the IAEA began concluding research contracts with laboratories and other scientific institutes in Member States. This was a novel activity for any United Nations agency. The successful launching of the programme owed much to the efforts of Henry Seligman, formerly Director of the Isotope

Laboratory at Harwell in the United Kingdom and from 1958 the first Head of the IAEA’s Department of Research and Isotopes.


In theory, at least, the contracts were designed to produce data or other results of direct value to the IAEA’s own programmes, and they were presented as a means of procuring services needed by the IAEA and not as technical assistance given to the Member State that housed the institute carrying out the research.


In practice, the proposals for research contracts usually came from an interested institute and not from the IAEA, and in many cases the contracts were a disguised form of technical assistance to the institute and State concerned.

In recent years the IAEA has indicated which fields of research it wishes to promote; in other words, in which areas it would welcome research proposals. This did and does not, however, apply to research contracts awarded in support of the safeguards programme and certain other technical contracts where the IAEA itself took the initiative.

The isolated and frequently uncoordinated contracts of the early days have evolved into Co-ordinated Research Programmes, in which a group of laboratories or institutes in developing and selected industrialized countries focus their research on a topic of common interest. Annual or biennial meetings of the contract holders have provided an excellent opportunity for sharing experience. In many cases the successful results of a Co-ordinated Research

Programme have led to a proposal for a technical co-operation project. By bringing together laboratories in developing and industrialized countries the

IAEA also introduced a form of ‘twinning’, in which the scientists in the developing country benefit from the sophisticated techniques and extensive resources available to their colleagues in the ‘advanced’ laboratory. The United

Nations has a ‘Joint Inspection Unit’ which monitors the performance of the various United Nations agencies. In 1991, an evaluation carried out by the Unit assessed the IAEA’s Co-ordinated Research Programme as “perhaps the most important co-operative effort in the [United Nations] system.”


The total cost of research contracts awarded annually — other than those in support of safeguards — remained fairly constant at between $750 000 and

$850 000 from 1961 until 1970. Because of the effects of inflation, this reflected


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A a decline in the relative importance of the programme and a decline in real terms of the money spent on it. After 1975, however, the total cost of research contracts began rising quite substantially. Figure 4 shows its growth from 1970 to 1995.






1970 1975 1980


1985 1990

FIG. 4. Growth of the IAEA research contract programme,



In the earlier years the dominant subjects of research were radiobiology, radiation protection and waste management. Subsequently, the use of nuclear techniques in agriculture and in medicine gradually emerged as the main topics, reflecting a trend towards subsidizing research on practical questions of more direct interest to the developing countries.

T h e s u p p l y o f n u c l e a r m a t e r i a l s

Although the Agency failed to become a significant source of supplies of nuclear power plants and their fuel, it served quite frequently in the early years as a broker for the supply of small quantities of nuclear materials for laboratory research. In September 1968, the Board delegated authority to the Director

General to approve transfers of amounts up to 1 kg of natural uranium or its equivalent in plutonium and enriched uranium, i.e. amounts that qualified for


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 9 exemption from safeguards under the INFCIRC/66 system.


The USA originally made available up to $50 000 each year to cover such supplies. By 1970, the

IAEA had arranged such supplies to some 30 Member States.


In the early 1980s, arrangements for such supply of small quantities became increasingly rare.

By 1970, the IAEA had also brokered the supply of subcritical assemblies or research reactors and/or their fuel or major components to Argentina,

Chile, the Congo (Leopoldville, i.e. Zaire), Finland, Indonesia, Iran, Israel,

Japan (the first), Mexico, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Spain, Uruguay, Viet

Nam and Yugoslavia.


In the next decade the recipients of research reactors and/or their fuel included Greece, Malaysia, Romania, Turkey and

Venezuela. During this period the IAEA also brokered for the first — and last

— time the supply of power reactors and their fuel, namely to Mexico and

Yugoslavia, and booster rods for a power reactor in Pakistan (Kanupp). More recently, the Agency assisted with the transfer of fuel for two miniature neutron source reactors of Chinese origin to Syria (1992) and Ghana (1994).

In the 17 years from 1981 to 1997, the list of new recipients of research reactors and/or their nuclear fuel under project agreements with the IAEA comprised Ghana, Jamaica, Morocco, Peru, Syria and Thailand.

It is clear from the record that while the developing Member States of the IAEA have very rarely turned to it as the supplier of nuclear power plants and their fuel, they have customarily asked it to arrange for the provision of a research reactor. One reason for this was probably that the nuclear authority of the developing country that would normally operate the research reactor had a relatively close relationship with the IAEA, but that this would not necessarily be true of the electric power utility or authority. Nonetheless, the number of requests for the IAEA’s help in obtaining research reactors declined after the 1960s, probably because most developing countries that wished to obtain a research reactor had already done so by 1970.

T h e I n t e r n a t i o n a l C e n t r e f o r

T h e o r e t i c a l P h y s i c s i n T r i e s t e a n d t h e

A g e n c y ’ s l a b o r a t o r i e s

T h e Tr i e s t e C e n t r e

In 1963, thanks largely to the leadership and drive of the eminent

Pakistani physicist and Nobel Prize winner Professor Abdus Salam,

78 the IAEA


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A established a unique institution, the International Centre for Theoretical

Physics (ICTP).

In the late 1950s, it was obvious that some of the IAEA’s main programmes were off to a slow start. New ideas were needed, particularly ideas that would promote East/West co-operation. An international centre for theoretical physics was just such an idea. It need not be costly, it would not involve the investment in expensive equipment that would be essential for a centre for experimental physics like CERN in Geneva — all that the theoretical physicist would need was a pencil and paper, or chalk and a blackboard.

Interested Member States proposed the creation of the ICTP at the fourth session of the General Conference in 1960, which adopted a resolution calling for a study of the proposal.


In June 1963, the Board, accepting an offer by the

Government of Italy, approved the establishment of the Centre in Trieste.


The ICTP began its work in October 1964 with a four week seminar on plasma physics. It has since provided to physicists from all over the world, and especially from the developing countries, a facility that enables them to maintain contact with their colleagues and to keep abreast of developments in many branches of pure and applied physics and related disciplines. It served as host to numerous conferences, seminars, workshops and training courses.

By the 1990s, the ICTP was receiving some 4000 scientists from all regions of the world every year, and more than 40 Nobel Prize winners had taken part in its activities. Under Professor Salam’s direction the Centre invented ingenious forms of association to enable scientists from the developing countries to maintain contact with their colleagues, for instance by becoming associate members and visiting the centre three times over a period of six years for stays of six weeks to three months. Another scheme enabled institutes federated with the

ICTP to send young scientists to Trieste for 40–120 days a year. By 1995, there were some 300 Federation Agreements.

From the start the ICTP received generous support from the Italian

Government and the city of Trieste. In 1970, UNESCO became a joint sponsor of the Centre.


Professor Salam remained the Director of the Centre until

1993, when he retired from that post, but was appointed President of the

Centre. In June 1995, Professor Miguel Virasoro from Argentina succeeded

Professor Salam.

In 1994, to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the ICTP, the International Foundation Trieste published a tribute to Abdus Salam. It included a message from Hans Blix in which he wrote that: “The extraordinary success of the ICTP as a place for co-operation and as a landmark for physicists and


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 9 mathematicians from developing countries is due to the vision, competence and energy of its creator, Abdus Salam.”


Professor J. Niederle, of the Czech Academy of Sciences, described the

ICTP as “a clearing house for new ideas”, “a crossroad for physicists” and “a place for doing research” and wrote movingly about his first visit to the

Centre in 1964 from Prague where “the cornerstones of the first

Czechoslovak Republic...democracy, tolerance and humanity...were brutally oppressed by a totalitarian regime...”; his stay at the Centre “meant for me a penetration through the iron think in global terms as a free people.”


The ICTP has served as a model for other institutions and triggered their development in the industrialized as well as developing countries, in the

United Kingdom and the USA as well as in Colombia and the Republic of

Korea. UNESCO coined the term ‘Triestino’ “to mean a scientific institution devoted to international co-operation in science and with modalities modelled on those of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics.”


Since the Centre’s inception, the Italian Government has met by far the largest share of its operating costs, the IAEA has contributed a second, much smaller share and, since 1 January 1970, when it became joint sponsor of the centre, UNESCO has made the same annual contribution as the IAEA. Several governments (e.g. of Denmark, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden and the USA), the European Union, OPEC, UNDP and numerous institutes have also helped to fund some of the Centre’s activities.


At the end of 1995, UNESCO took over administrative responsibility for the ICTP, but the IAEA decided to remain a partner in the operation of the

Centre and to work with it in subjects directly related to the IAEA’s programmes.


T h e H e a d q u a r t e r s a n d t h e S e i b e r s d o r f l a b o r a t o r i e s

In 1958, the IAEA set up a provisional laboratory in the basement of its headquarters building in the former Grand Hotel. The ‘Headquarters laboratory’ had small physics and chemistry sections. Its main work was:

— To analyse samples of air, milk and vegetation (supplied by UNSCEAR and Member States) in order to measure environmental contamination resulting from atmospheric tests of nuclear weapons;




— To help set international standards by preparing and distributing controlled samples of radioisotopes to other laboratories in Europe and

North America;

— To launch a worldwide programme for the measurement of the concentrations of tritium in the atmosphere, for which the atmospheric tests were chiefly responsible. This programme is more fully described in

Chapter 10.


As noted in Chapter 5, in April 1959 the Board approved plans for a permanent laboratory to be built adjacent to the Austrian Nuclear Research

Centre at Seibersdorf, near Vienna. The Agency’s Seibersdorf laboratory went into operation in October 1961. It was the first full-fledged laboratory of a truly international character.


The laboratory was designed “especially for certain types of work that call for comparison and co-ordination on the widest possible basis.”


In August 1961, Sterling Cole invited all developing

Member States to make known any requirements that might be met by the laboratory and to suggest activities or projects in which they had a particular interest.

The Seibersdorf laboratory was not intended to be a centre for independent nuclear research but rather a means of providing essential support to the

Agency’s technical and scientific programmes. Since 1961, the laboratory has underpinned the Agency’s work relating to protection of the environment, medicine, agriculture, hydrology, nuclear safety and safeguards. The scientists working at the laboratories do, of course, engage in research, but such research is usually of direct utility to the programmes of the ‘parent’ Divisions and

Departments at IAEA Headquarters.

After the creation of the FAO/IAEA Division of Food and Agriculture in

1964, the laboratory’s work in support of research on agriculture and nutrition and on applications of radiation began to expand, and in 1965 the FAO and the IAEA established a plant breeding unit. In 1968, the two agencies set up an entomology unit and in 1986 they completed the construction of a new agriculture wing. In 1990, a new training facility, funded by the USA, Austria,

Germany and the FAO, was also constructed. Construction of a new modern extension to the entomology unit, made possible by a donation from the USA, was completed in February 1997.

The work of the Seibersdorf laboratories in support of the IAEA’s food and agriculture, human health and isotope hydrology programmes — chiefly for the benefit of developing countries — is described in Chapter 10. The main


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 9 work of the laboratories that did not fall within these categories was in relation to nuclear fallout, preparation of standards and analytical quality control.

M e a s u r i n g n u c l e a r f a l l o u t , 1 9 6 1 – 1 9 6 3

From 1961 to 1963, the Seibersdorf laboratory measured radioactivity in samples of food, milk, etc., resulting from the fallout that was caused by the nuclear weapon tests that the USA, the USSR, the United Kingdom and

France carried out in the atmosphere and at ground level. This was a continuation of the work begun at the Headquarters laboratory and it came to an end after the cessation of most atmospheric testing in 1963.


P r e p a r a t i o n o f t r i t i u m a n d o t h e r s t a n d a r d s u s e d i n h y d r o l o g y

Since 1961, the hydrology section of the laboratory has supplied water standards to tritium laboratories in numerous countries in connection with the IAEA’s programme for a worldwide survey of hydrogen and oxygen isotopes.


This too was a continuation of the work begun at the Headquarters laboratory and, as explained in the next chapter, it established one of the crucial bases of the IAEA’s hydrology projects.

A n a l y t i c a l q u a l i t y c o n t r o l s e r v i c e s

9 3

To give some examples of the usefulness of analytical quality control services, accurate and precise knowledge of the chemical contents of a given sample provides the essential data for deciding:

— Whether the material sampled is fit for human consumption,

— Whether or not the environment is being contaminated,

— Whether trace chemical elements essential for good health or responsible for diseases are present in the human body,

— Whether or not the materials or batch of goods from which the sample is taken meet certain agreed specifications for a commercial transaction.

Thus, accurate chemical analysis may be crucial for human life or human health, or in determining whether the conditions agreed to in an important commercial contract or other agreement have been fulfilled. It is also


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A essential for determining the extent of chemical pollution of the environment by, for instance, the overuse of fertilizers or pesticides, or resulting from a major accident such as Chernobyl.

In the early 1960s, the Seibersdorf laboratory began providing a broad range of analytical quality controls. This started with the collection of data on low level radionuclide pollution resulting chiefly from the atmospheric tests of nuclear weapons referred to above. UNSCEAR, responsible for assessing the effects of the tests, noticed alarming discrepancies in the data supplied by national laboratories and asked the IAEA to assist it in ensuring the comparability of results. The IAEA arranged intercomparisons between co-operating laboratories and provided the reference materials against which the laboratories could test their own results.

The results of some preliminary intercomparisons in the mid-1960s were ‘impressively bad’: even some of the results received from old and well established laboratories showed wide deviations from the norm. The IAEA organized a succession of meetings to resolve these problems and arranged further intercomparisons. By 1974, the laboratory was able to offer a comprehensive analytical quality control service to Member States.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the IAEA also gradually extended the range of material that it analysed, and for which it provided reference materials, to include sea water, sediments and marine life (biota) — analysed by the

IAEA’s Monaco Laboratory for radionuclide, pesticide and trace element content — and hydrological materials to determine their isotopic composition

(the ratios of hydrogen and oxygen isotopes).

Other sources of reference materials included the Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique in France, the European Union’s Central Bureau of

Nuclear Measurements in Geel, Belgium, and the New Brunswick Laboratory in the USA. At the same time, progress in electronics, chemical instrumentation, microprocessing and computing permitted the simultaneous or nearly simultaneous analysis of many different elements, and eventually of the detection and measurement of more and more minute traces. In this way the

IAEA was able to provide reference materials for the analysis of a constantly growing range of trace elements.

A very wide and increasing range of customers has required reference materials to enable them to make accurate and precise analyses of samples containing minute quantities of elements and compounds. They have included research institutions and laboratories, almost every organization concerned with setting standards and ensuring safety such as regulatory and environmental


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 9 authorities, and industrial corporations. By 1995, the IAEA was able to provide a catalogue of approximately 1600 reference materials.

After the Chernobyl accident, the analytical services of the Seibersdorf laboratories were used by several Member States and by the International

Chernobyl Project to study the environmental impact of the accident.


Tr a i n i n g o f s c i e n t i s t s f r o m d e v e l o p i n g c o u n t r i e s

In 1963, the Seibersdorf laboratory held its first international training course. The subject was how to determine the radionuclide content of food.

Since then the laboratory has conducted three to four international training courses each year. They have covered various agricultural disciplines, the use of isotopes in hydrology studies, the maintenance and repair of nuclear instrumentation and radiochemical analyses. The laboratory also plays host each year to many scientists from developing countries who receive hands-on training in the application of specific nuclear techniques to the solution of practical problems.

T h e M o n a c o L a b o r a t o r y

In 1958, the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea adopted a resolution recommending that the IAEA should pursue whatever studies and take whatever action were necessary to assist States in controlling the discharge of radioactive materials into the sea.


An IAEA panel, meeting in 1958 and 1959, proposed limits on such disposals and in November 1959 the IAEA convened in Monaco the first international conference on the disposal of radioactive wastes at sea.


In 1961, the IAEA, the Government of Monaco and the Musée

Océanographique (directed by Jacques Cousteau) began a three year research programme on the effects of radioactivity in the sea. As noted in Chapter 5, this opened the way to the establishment of the IAEA’s International

Laboratory of Marine Radioactivity (ILMR). The Laboratory began work in the 1960s by analysing the distribution of radionuclides in the sea, the composition of marine organisms, the way in which these organisms incorporate radionuclides and the impact of radiation on marine life.


The Laboratory also served as an ‘umbrella’ institute, providing samples of sea water, sediments and marine life containing measured quantities of radioisotopes to many national laboratories in order to help them standardize


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A and calibrate their measurement techniques, and to ensure that the results of their analyses were comparable with each other. For instance, in 1975, 110 laboratories in 27 Member States of the IAEA took part in an intercalibration exercise.


It is obvious that one of the main political rationales for the Laboratory was concern in the late 1950s about the dumping of low level waste at sea.

Low level waste included slightly radioactive laboratory equipment overalls and waste from the radiology units of hospitals. The USA had terminated its earlier dumping activities, but several Western European nations were continuing to send a ship into the North Atlantic each year to dump barrels filled with concrete as well as waste thousands of feet down in ocean trenches. The practice aroused much criticism and strong objections by Cousteau, amongst others. As noted elsewhere, the Soviet

Union was amongst the fiercest critics, but kept silent about the massive amounts of high level waste it was dumping in the Arctic seas and the Far

Eastern seas.

The year 1974 marked a turning point for the Laboratory. One of the main projects of the recently established United Nations Environment

Programme (UNEP) was to undertake an accurate assessment of the levels of pollution in the principal seas, beginning with the Mediterranean and the

Persian Gulf and later extending to all the world’s oceans. The rising level of non-radioactive pollution of these seas by industry, farming, shipping, drilling for oil and tourism was a far more pressing and formidable problem than that caused by the dumping of low level waste in the depths of the

Atlantic. In 1974, the Laboratory’s functions were accordingly broadened to cover non-nuclear contamination. It became, in effect, a service laboratory for much of the UNEP programme as well as the leading international centre for assessing the effects of radioactivity in the sea. It also provided training

(about a dozen specialist training courses a year) and analytical quality assurance services.

Thus, in 1974, UNEP joined the IAEA and the Government of Monaco as the principal funders of the Laboratory. It also received funds, equipment and other forms of support from UNDP, the Intergovernmental

Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO and from many governments and other intergovernmental or non-governmental bodies, including France,

Germany, Japan, Sweden, the USA and the European Union.

In 1986, the IAEA created a Marine Environmental Studies Laboratory within ILMR to co-ordinate studies on non-radioactive marine pollution.



P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 9

To reflect more accurately the broader scope of the Laboratory’s work on behalf of Member States and several UN agencies, the Laboratory’s name was changed in 1991 to the IAEA Marine Environment Laboratory (IAEA-MEL).


As the only such laboratory in the United Nations system, it was now at the forefront of international efforts to understand, preserve and protect the marine environment.

Since 1974, the Laboratory has assessed and helped to mitigate many grave challenges to the marine environment. Its more recent work has included:

— A study of the impact of the 1991 Gulf War on the Persian Gulf; in other words, the extent and effects of the pollution caused by the release of oil into the Gulf and by the burning of some 67 million tonnes of oil when

Iraqi troops set fire to the Kuwaiti oil wells (since 1980 the Laboratory had already been helping UNEP and the Gulf countries to set up a regional marine monitoring and research programme).


— A Co-ordinated Research Programme on the condition of the Black Sea.

The IAEA began this programme in 1992. Public concern about the consequences of Chernobyl and about releases from some nuclear plants in the region induced the countries concerned to give high priority to research on radioactive pollution of the Black Sea.


— A major study of radioactive pollution of the Arctic and Far Eastern seas

(see also the section on radioactive waste management in Chapter 7). In

1993, the IAEA began work on an ‘International Arctic Seas Assessment

Project’. The aim was to determine the potential hazards to humans and the marine environment resulting from the dumping of nuclear waste, spent nuclear fuel and nuclear propulsion reactors in the shallow waters of the Kara and Barents Seas, and to predict the dispersion of any radioactive material that may leak in the future.


The Laboratory took part in five expeditions to the region. Measurements made in two of the bays in which waste was dumped have shown that in 1994 there has been some contamination by the objects dumped “...but at radiologically insignificant levels.”


“Sediment contamination is limited to the immediate vicinity of the [dumped] containers.”


At the end of 1996, the IAEA presented a report on the results of the study to the parties to the London ‘Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by

Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter’.


— An analysis of samples of sea water and sediments taken by a joint Japan–

Republic of Korea–Russian Federation expedition to the Far Eastern seas,


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A which was also the scene of large scale dumping. Analysis of the samples “did not show any effects from the dump sites.”


(See also

Chapter 7.)

— An analysis of the consequences of weapon tests in the Pacific.

Specifically, a study of the effects of France’s nuclear tests on and above

Mururoa Atoll in the South Pacific. In 1991, the analysis of the first samples showed that “radioactivity concentrations around Mururoa are extremely low, close to detection limits and generally at global fallout levels.”


— A study of the role of the oceans in mitigating global warming.

— Studies on the impacts on the marine ecosystem of industrial pollution and the runoff of fertilizers and other agricultural chemicals.

— A survey of nuclear and other industrial pollution of the Danube River basin. This study, which the Cousteau Foundation and the IAEA began in 1992, assessed the impact of fossil fuel power stations, phosphate and other industrial chemical plants as well as of nuclear sites in Hungary,

Romania and Bulgaria.


The survey “showed that the Danube River and catchment are radiologically clean... The only man-made radioactivity consistently observed is from fallout from the Chernobyl accident and the levels are relatively low...”


— A study of the contamination of the northern Adriatic Sea by, for instance, PCBs and mercury.


The European Union has funded the project, which was aimed at improving understanding of the causes of eutrophication of the sea. Isotopic methods have been used to help define the rates of the most relevant marine processes.

In 1995, the Laboratory began studies of the causes of the dramatically rising levels of the Caspian Sea. Isotopic techniques have been used to study the water table of the Caspian region and the IAEA’s hydrology laboratory is taking part in the project.


In support of its work the Monaco Laboratory has created a ‘Global

Marine Radioactivity Database’ (GLOMARD) to provide governments with radioactivity baseline data on sea water, sediments and biota — in other words, data on the amounts of radioactivity in various locations of the seas, their sediments and marine life.

In 1994, the Principality of Monaco completed new and permanent premises for the Laboratory. It is expected that by 1998 new construction will more than double the floor space of the Laboratory.


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 9

A c h a n g e d a s s e s s m e n t o f t h e u s e f u l n e s s o f t h e l a b o r a t o r i e s

In the early 1960s, several members of the Board were sceptical about the value of and the need for the IAEA’s laboratories and the ICTP at Trieste; many Governors, including those representing the USSR, France and the

United Kingdom, argued that they would simply duplicate work that could be done better and more cheaply by national laboratories and institutes.

Experience has shown that this scepticism was ill-founded. The laboratories and ICTP, as well as the Divisions with which the laboratories most closely work, have earned a fine reputation in the world of science and have provided valuable services to the IAEA’s Member States. It is noteworthy that Russia and France, which in the early days were particularly dubious about the potential value of Trieste, Seibersdorf and Monaco, have found them most useful in determining the environmental impact of their own previous or recently discontinued military nuclear operations.







The number of developing Member States seriously involved in nuclear power — operating, building or about to order nuclear power plants — has remained at about a dozen since the 1960s, after having peaked at 15 or more in the 1970s. The

States that have abandoned incipient nuclear power programmes include Egypt,

Israel, the Philippines and Yugoslavia.

The chief techniques are the uses of radioisotopes as tools in agricultural, medical, environmental and biological research, or in field studies (e.g. tracing the course of underground aquifers, measuring the rate of recharge of underground reservoirs), and the use of radiation in medicine and in various industries such as food preservation, sterilization of medical supplies and improving plastics.

Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Haiti, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali,

Myanmar, Namibia, Nicaragua, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Uganda,

Tanzania, Yemen, Zaire and Zambia.

Annual Report for 1976, GC(XXI)/580, IAEA, Vienna (1977) p. 18, para. 39.

The countries are: Bangladesh, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Cuba, Egypt, Hungary,

Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland,

Romania, Tanzania, Thailand, Republic of Korea and Viet Nam. (Information provided by the IAEA’s Department of Technical Co-operation.)














LACHANCE, L.E., KLASSEN, W., “Applying the sterile insect technique to the control of insect pests”, IAEA Yearbook 1991, IAEA, Vienna (1991) B23. At a special facility, e.g. at the IAEA’s entomology laboratory at Seibersdorf, specialists breed large numbers of the target insect pests and sterilize them by radiation. These insects are released in an infected area, usually at a time when the wild population is naturally low or has been reduced by the use of chemicals. If the insect only mates once the entire population may be eliminated by infertile matings.

The Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture and the Divisions of Human Health and of Physical and Chemical Sciences.

Annual Report for 1989, GC(XXXIV)/915, IAEA, Vienna (1990) 136. The IAEA now has 15 technical Divisions, including the two responsible for the technical assistance programme. Six of the technical Divisions are in the Department of


Resolution GC(XXV)/RES/386.

See GOV/OR.635, paras 31–32, and GOV/OR.639, pp. 14–17, paras 49–67.

The G-77 referred to “lists A and C” in an annex to United Nations General

Assembly Resolution 1995 (XIX) and related resolutions subsequently adopted by the Assembly.

“Moreover, there is no statutory limitation on the eligibility of Member States to receive technical assistance, and a number of them are both donors and recipients of such assistance” (GOV/INF/467 of 5 February 1985, para. 3).

In fact, some tentative steps were taken to incorporate the entire budgets of FAO and UNESCO into the budget of the UN itself and, pending such incorporation, to have the FAO and UNESCO budgets reviewed by the General Assembly

(GOODRICH, L.M., HAMBRO, E., SIMONS, A.P., Charter of the United Nations,

Commentary and Documents, Columbia University Press, New York (1969) 424).

One might have gone even further towards centralization. It would have been administratively logical to put the UN and all the agencies in one place where they could have shared a single administrative and financial infrastructure. In the relationship agreements with some specialized agencies, including those with

FAO and ILO, there is “a qualified commitment to establish headquarters of the agency at United Nations headquarters, or at least to consult before a final decision is taken” [about the location of the headquarters of the two agencies].

(GOODRICH, L.M., et al., Charter of the United Nations, Commentary and Documents, p. 423.)

And ECOSOC has been quite unable to play the programmatic co-ordinating role foreseen for it; for many observers it has become little more than a talking shop.

Annual Report for 1991, GC(XXXVI)/1004, IAEA, Vienna (1992) 148.


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 9










BARRETTO, P.M.C., “Activities of the International Atomic Energy Agency relevant to Article IV of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons,”

NPT/CONF.1995/PC.IV/8 (1995).

CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES, Background Material for the Review of the

International Atomic Policies and Programs of the United States, Report to the Joint

Committee on Atomic Energy, Vol. 3, US Govt Printing Office, Washington, DC

(1960) 752; and Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July

1959–30 June 1960, GC(IV)/114, IAEA, Vienna (1960), p. 4, para. 15 (b); Annual

Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1960–30 June 1961,

GC(V)/154, IAEA, Vienna (1961), p. 28, paras 185–186.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference Covering the Period

from 1 July 1958 to 30 June 1959, GC(III)/73, IAEA, Vienna (1959), p. 31, para. 131.

IAEA Statute, Articles III.B.3 and IV.C.

Document INFCIRC/267, part B, para. 2 (‘The Revised Guiding Principles and

General Operating Rules to Govern the Provision of Technical Assistance by the

Agency’, March 1979); and SZASZ, P.C., The Law and Practices of the International

Atomic Energy Agency, Legal Series No. 7, IAEA, Vienna (1970) 455. INFCIRC/267, part B, para. 2, provides that “each Member State…shall be eligible for technical assistance provided from the Agency’s own resources”, but this is subject to the

Guiding Principle that these resources “shall be allocated primarily to meet the needs of developing countries.”

Little did one know that four decades later even Russia itself might receive assistance from programmes designed chiefly for the ‘developing countries’ (The

Agency’s Technical Co-operation Activities in 1994, GC(39)/INF/8, IAEA, Vienna

(1995), p. 35, para. 123). Russian experts were invited to take part in several regional technical co-operation activities and interregional training courses. Russian experts were also awarded fellowships. Recently, ‘footnote a/’ projects (described later in this chapter) in Russia have also been included in the technical co-operation programme.

CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES, Review of the International Atomic Policies

and Programs of the United States, p. 740-741; and First Annual Report of the Board of

Governors to the General Conference Covering the Period from 23 October 1957 to 30 June

1958, GC(II)/39, IAEA, Vienna (1958), p. 30, para. 131.

CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES, Review of the International Atomic Policies

and Programs of the United States, p. 740; and Annual Report of the Board of Governors

to the General Conference 1 July 1959–30 June 1960, p. 41, paras 257–258.

The first training course was held jointly with FAO at Cornell University in the

USA. Other training courses in 1960 and 1961 were held in Argentina (use of









32 radioisotopes in agriculture and medicine), India (radioisotopes in agricultural research, and on reactors), Netherlands (agricultural research) and Israel (radiobiology) (Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference Covering

the Period from 1 July 1958–30 June 1959, p. 33, paras 144 and 145; Annual Report of

the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1959–30 June 1960, p. 25, paras 133 and 135).

SZASZ, P.C., The Law and Practices of the International Atomic Energy Agency, p. 459.

SZASZ, P.C., ibid, p. 479.

Annual Report for 1976, p. 18, para. 40.

Annual Report for 1978, GC(XXIII)/610, IAEA, Vienna (1977), p. 15, para. 42.

RAINER, R.H., SZASZ, P.C., The Law and Practices of the International Atomic Energy

Agency: 1970–1980, Supplement 1 to the 1970 Edition of Legal Series No. 7, Legal Series

No. 7-S1, IAEA, Vienna (1993) 218–219.

RAINER, R.H. SZASZ, P.C., ibid., pp. 220–221.

The formula used in the revised document (INFCIRC/267, para 1.(I)) was that

“Technical assistance shall be provided only for peaceful uses of atomic energy. For the purposes of the technical assistance programme, peaceful uses of atomic energy shall exclude nuclear weapons manufacture, the furtherance of any military purpose and uses which could contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, such as research on, development of, testing of, or manufacture of a nuclear explosive device.”




Document GOV/OR.529, paras 14 and 17.

Annual Report for 1983, GC(XXVIII)/713, IAEA, Vienna (1984), pp. 20–21, paras


Annual Report for 1987, GC(XXXII)/835, IAEA, Vienna (1988), p. 17, paras 46–47.





Annual Report for 1991, p. 1.

Annual Report for 1995, GC(40)/8, IAEA, Vienna (1996) 6.

The statistics for IAEA training courses before 1980 are not readily available.

In 1996, the Board approved a further 35 Model Projects.


Finland has been successfully operating Soviet plants of the WWER type for nearly

20 years. It addressed this deficiency by building containment domes around the reactors and by installing more advanced Western reactor control instruments.


The information in this paragraph was provided by Jihui Qian, Deputy Director


General in charge of the IAEA‘s Department of Technical Co-operation. Before joining the IAEA, Mr. Qian was closely associated with the Chinese nuclear power programme.

This is, in effect, an offspring of what the IAEA Statute refers to as the “General

Fund”. In the Annual Report for 1995, p. 54, it is referred to as the “Technical

Co-operation Fund”.


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 9








Projects that the Secretariat has found to be technically sound but for which the

Agency does not have enough funds in the TCF to carry out. In the document that the

Secretariat submits to the Technical Co-operation Committee of the Board, these are identified by a footnote a/. Donor States select those that they are prepared to finance.

In the case of projects funded by UNDP or by other development funding organizations, the funding body makes a contribution to the IAEA to enable it to meet overhead costs.

For a discussion of this issue, see SZASZ, P.C., The Law and Practices of the

International Atomic Energy Agency, pp. 501–502.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1959–30 June

1960, p. 20, paras 98–99.

See Table I, Annex 3.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1963–30 June

1964, GC(VIII)/270, IAEA, Vienna (1964), p. 35, para. 166.

In 1962, the representative of the United Kingdom, Michael Michaels, formally proposed amending the Statute to incorporate technical assistance funding into the regular (assessed) budget. Normally, Western countries (and the Soviet Union) insisted that all contributions to the technical assistance funds must be voluntary.

The United Kingdom’s departure from this position was to some extent a reaction to the fact that the contributions of the Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries were invariably in the form of non-convertible currencies, or in kind. In the Board the Soviet Union (Vassily Emelyanov) and its allies strongly objected to the proposal, and it was also opposed by Canada and, somewhat surprisingly, by

India. Equally surprising was the support it received from the US Governor

(Henry Smythe). It was also supported by the Federal Republic of Germany and by most of the other Governors from developing countries who took part in the debate (see GOV/OR.300 and 301).

The Board referred the issue to the General Conference, which asked the Board for a further report on the matter. When the Board’s discussions were resumed in

1963, the USA put forward a somewhat different package, which included financing technical assistance out of the regular budget but set upper limits to the value of any equipment component of any technical assistance project. The Board was divided on much the same lines as in 1962, and the US proposal was approved by a vote of 12 to 5 and transmitted to the General Conference (GOV/OR.323). The

General Conference decided not to act on the Board’s recommendation and asked it to continue its examination of the issue, but by then it was obvious that no consensus could be reached, and the discussion came to an inconclusive end.




















General Conference resolutions GC(V)RES/100 and GC(VI)RES/126.

Table I, Annex 3.


Annual Report 1 July 1974–30 June 1975, GC(XIX)/544, IAEA, Vienna (1976), p. 23,

Table III.

Annual Report for 1979, GC(XXIV)/627, IAEA, Vienna (1980), p. 11, para. 46.

Annual Report for 1980, GC(XXV)/641, IAEA, Vienna (1981), p. 11, para. 56.

Annual Report for 1976, p. 11, para. 23.

For instance, such discrimination is incompatible with Article IV.C of the IAEA’s


Technical Co-operation Report for 1996, GC(41)/INF/4, IAEA, Vienna (1997), p. 42, para. 143. The total assessed cost of footnote a/ projects amounted to $17.9 million, of which 39.5%, or $7.1 million, was made operational by donor countries or by funds that became available from the TCF.

For Soviet, Western and other opposition and for Indian and other developing country support of an amendment of the Statute, see GOV/OR.543 and

GOV/OR.544 of May 1980.

Annual Report for 1992, GC(XXXVII)/1060, IAEA, Vienna (1993) 176.

Ibid., p. 1

Annual Report for 1995, p. 52.

The heading ‘physical and chemical sciences’ covers, for instance, projects relating to the operation of research reactors, the production of radioisotopes and the maintenance of nuclear instruments.

First Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference Covering the

Period from 23 October 1957 to 30 June 1958, p. 31, paras 133–135; and Annual Report

of the Board of Governors to the General Conference Covering the Period from 1 July 1958

to 30 June 1959, p. 32, para. 139.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1959–30 June

1960, pp. 24–25, para. 132; and Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General

Conference 1 July 1962–30 June 1963, GC(VII)/228, IAEA, Vienna (1963), p. 1, para. 5. It is understood that the centre is still operating and has asked the FAO to fund a number of training lectures (Information provided by James D. Dargie,

Director of the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and


The RCA’s meetings have been particularly useful for those responsible for planning the use of research reactors in various countries in the region. These reactors, supplied chiefly by the USA and former USSR, represent relatively large and costly investments of foreign exchange and scarce scientific manpower. In at least one


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 9












78 case (in Venezuela in the 1970s), lack of available scientists forced the closing of the reactor for several years.

Annual Report for 1990, GC(XXXV)/953, IAEA, Vienna (1991) 142.

See Table I, Annex 3.

Annual Report for 1980, p. 9, Table I.

See Table I, Annex 3.

Document GOV/OR. 543.

The first two contracts were awarded to institutes in Vienna for research on the effects of radiation and on factors determining the distribution of fission products in the biosphere.

If the research contracts had been regarded as a form of technical assistance to the institute, it would have been legally necessary under Article XIV.B.2 of the Statute to charge them against the scarce and coveted funds available for technical assistance (technical co-operation) and not against the regular budget. To maintain the fiction that the contracts were designed to secure services or information needed by the Agency, they were concluded directly between the Secretariat and the laboratory or institute, and not through official Agency-to-State channels. Initially, the only contracts charged against the regular budget were those relating to explicit statutory functions such as health and safety and safeguards. In 1967, the Board decided to charge all research contracts against the regular budget. Previously more economy-minded Governors had sought to maintain a distinction between those contracts that should be financed by the regular budget and those that should be regarded as a form of technical assistance, but this distinction vanished with the 1967 decision (SZASZ, P.C., The Law and Practices of the International Atomic

Energy Agency, pp. 502–503).

Annual Report for 1991, p. 2.

RAINER, R.H., SZASZ P.C., The Law and Practices of the International Atomic Energy

Agency: 1970–1980, p. 198.

The recipients included Algeria, Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burma

(Myanmar), Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Chile, Congo (Zaire), Finland, Greece, Hungary,

India, Iran, Indonesia, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Singapore,

Spain, Turkey, United Arab Republic (Egypt), Uruguay, Viet Nam, Yugoslavia and the IAEA itself. After the NPT came into force in 1970 the States that requested such supplies were required to undertake not to use them for any purpose prohibited by the Treaty.

SZASZ, P.C., The Law and Practices of the International Atomic Energy Agency, pp. 422–431.

Salam was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in October 1979 (GOV/OR.540).
















Resolution GC(IV)/RES 76. Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General

Conference 1 July 1960–30 June 1961, p. 34, para. 214.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1962–30 June

1963, p. 8, para. 52.

The agreement between the IAEA and UNESCO for the joint operation of the

Centre came into force on 1 January 1970 (Annual Report of the Board of Governors to

the General Conference 1 July 1969–30 June 1970, GC(XIV)/430, IAEA, Vienna (1970), p. 46, para. 120).

HAMENDE, A.M. (Ed.), From a Vision to a System: The International Centre for

Theoretical Physics of Trieste (1964–1994), International Foundation Trieste for the

Progress and the Freedom of Sciences, Trieste (1996) 10.

NIEDERLE, J., “The ICTP in a thirty year perspective”, ibid., p. 237.

BERTOCCHI, L., “The ICTP: Historical developments and present status”, ibid., p. 57.

See, for instance, the Annual Report for 1981, GC(XXVI)/664, IAEA, Vienna (1982), p. 56, para. 226.

Annual Report for 1995, p. 7.

There was still much fear of the effects of fallout, especially of the bone-seeking radioisotope strontium-90 in milk as a potential cause of childhood leukaemia. An incident in 1954 vividly demonstrated how dangerous fallout could be when fallout from a hydrogen bomb test at Bikini Atoll killed two members of the crew of a Japanese fishing boat, the Lucky Dragon, and seriously injured the others.

(GOLDSCHMIDT, B., Le Complexe Atomique, Fayard, Paris (1980) 125.) Public concern helped to induce the three nuclear weapon States of the time to put an end in

1963 to testing in the atmosphere and under the sea. It will be recalled that the same concern was the chief reason why the United Nations established UNSCEAR in 1956.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference 1 July 1959–30 June

1960, p. 40, para. 254; Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General

Conference 1 July 1960–30 June 1961, p. 20, para. 128.

“Das neue Laboratoriengebäude der Internationalen Atombehörde”, Neues Öster-

reich (21 October 1961). EURATOM was already operating a number of large specialized regional laboratories.

“An International Atomic Energy Laboratory”, Nature (London) No. 4814 (1962)


France and China were not parties to the Limited Test Ban Treaty of 1963 and for a few years after 1963 they continued atmospheric testing (China carried out its first test in 1964).


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 9



















As noted, the hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium also resulted chiefly from tests in the atmosphere of hydrogen bombs (i.e. thermonuclear explosions).

This section is largely based on SUSCHNY, O., DANESI, P.R., “Controlling the accuracy of chemical analysis”, IAEA Yearbook 1991, pp. B35–B52.

In 1996, the IAEA laboratories’ radioanalytical expertise was used in support of an international study funded by France to analyse the consequences of the French nuclear weapon tests on Mururoa and Fangataufa Atolls.

First Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference Covering the

Period from 23 October 1957 to 30 June 1958, p. 35, para. 158.

Annual Report of the Board of Governors to the General Conference Covering the Period

from 1 July 1958 to 30 June 1959, p. 39, paras 181 and 183. The panel was chaired by

Harry Brynielsson of Sweden, Managing Director of the Swedish Atomic Energy

Company (Aktiebolaget Atomenergi) and mentioned previously as the favoured candidate for the post of IAEA Director General until the US Government decided to propose Sterling Cole. The Monaco conference was co-sponsored by UNESCO.

IAEA Laboratory Activities, Technical Reports Series No. 41, IAEA, Vienna (1965) 73.

Annual Report for 1976, p. 37, para. 148(b).

Annual Report for 1986, GC(XXXI)/800, IAEA, Vienna (1987), p. 40, para. 367.

Annual Report for 1991, p. 32.

FOWLER, S.W., “Pollution in the Gulf: Monitoring the marine environment”,

IAEA Bulletin 35 (June 1993).

Annual Report for 1992, p. 42.

In May 1993, Russia officially confirmed that it had dumped seven submarine or ice breaker reactors still containing fuel and ten reactors without fuel (but highly radioactive), as well as large quantities of liquid and solid wastes, in the shallow bays and troughs of Novaya Zemlya and in the open sea. Waste had also been dumped in the northwest Pacific, chiefly in the Sea of Japan (IAEA Yearbook 1993,

IAEA, Vienna (1993) C87–C88).

Annual Report for 1994, GC(39)/3, IAEA, Vienna (1995) 54.

Annual Report for 1995, p. 17.

Ibid., p. 16; Annual Report for 1993, GC(XXXVIII)/2, IAEA, Vienna (1994) 40–41; and Annual Report for 1996, GC(41)/8, IAEA, Vienna (1997) 14.

Annual Report for 1994, p. 54; and Annual Report for 1995, p. 17.

Annual Report for 1991, p. 33; and Annual Report for 1995, p. 17. After the end of

France’s series of tests in 1995–1996, the French Government invited the IAEA to take part in a thorough analysis of the consequences of several decades of nuclear weapon testing on the Mururoa and Fangataufa Atolls.

Annual Report for 1991, p. 34.






Annual Report for 1992, p. 42.

Annual Report for 1995, p. 17. “The findings were instrumental in establishing the pollution histories of important environmental contaminants, such as PCBs and mercury.”

Annual Report for 1995, p. 31.



C h a p t e r 1 0



( R A D I O I S O T O P E S A N D R A D I A T I O N )

I n Chapter 9 it was emphasized that the IAEA’s programmes of the greatest benefit to the developing countries have been those relating to the use of isotopes and radiation. The industrialized countries have also profited from these uses, but they have done so without much involvement of the

IAEA except in the international exchange of information.

This chapter focuses on the work that has been done by the IAEA and jointly by the FAO and the IAEA to promote the use of these techniques in the developing countries. It has been carried out mainly by the Departments of

Research and Isotopes and Technical Co-operation and by the relevant units of the Agency’s Laboratories at Seibersdorf. The IAEA has relied on Co-ordinated

Research Programmes to develop and test isotope and radiation techniques and has made increasing use of laboratories in the developing countries themselves as well as of its own laboratories. The IAEA has used its technical co-operation programme as the chief means for transferring these techniques.

Many of the IAEA’s programmes described have been of value to the

IAEA’s membership as a whole and to the general advancement of science as well as to their principal target, the developing countries. A good example is the programme now known as GNIP, or the ‘Global Network for Isotopes in

Precipitation’, which is described later in this chapter under the Agency’s programmes in the earth sciences.

The GNIP programme is clearly of interest to science and to all countries, but it provides data that are also used to determine how quickly water can be safely extracted from a particular underground reservoir. Information about the rate at which rainfall recharges underground reservoirs is especially valuable to the many developing countries in arid regions and to cities suffering from shortages of clean water.

F A O / I A E A p r o g r a m m e s

By the time the IAEA began its work FAO had already established an

Atomic Energy Branch. In 1959, the IAEA set up a unit of agriculture in


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 1 0 the Division of Life Sciences to promote the use of nuclear techniques in research on food and agriculture. In September 1961, the IAEA opened its laboratory at Seibersdorf, which was soon providing services to the agricultural unit.

With two international organizations working independently but pursuing similar objectives, overlapping and jurisdictional disputes were inevitable. As noted in Chapters 5 and 12, the Directors General of the two agencies therefore decided to pool their resources in a joint division. The essay by Björn Sigurbjörnsson in the companion volume, Personal Reflections, vividly describes the turbulent early years that eventually led to the very successful work of what has become the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear

Techniques in Food and Agriculture.

After more than 30 years of collaboration between FAO and the IAEA, the following programmes dealing with the use of isotopes and radiation are well established. Their goal is:

— Improving the production of milk and meat and other products of animal husbandry;

— Eradicating or controlling insect pests;

— Reducing losses of food by extending shelf life and suppressing sprouting, and improving food safety by reducing contamination by microorganisms;

— Optimizing the use of fertilizers and water and maximizing fixation by crops of biological nitrogen;

— Inducing mutations in plants so as to obtain the desired varieties of agricultural crops;

— Studying the pathway of pesticides and agricultural chemicals in the environment and in the food chain and determining contaminants in food.

A n i m a l p r o d u c t i o n a n d h e a l t h

In recent years the FAO/IAEA programme relating to ‘animal production and health’ has chiefly aimed at:

— Testing the results of vaccination campaigns;

— Developing new sources of protein for livestock, such as leguminous trees, poultry manure and urea–molasses blocks;

— Testing the results of programmes to eliminate insect pests.



An example of the work that the IAEA and FAO have done to improve animal production and health is their contribution to the campaign to eliminate rinderpest, chiefly by testing the results of vaccination campaigns.

Rinderpest is a deadly viral disease in cattle related to measles in humans.

When it reached Africa a century ago it killed more than 90% of the continent’s cattle. The rinderpest virus cannot survive if 85% or more of the cattle are effectively vaccinated. The Organization of African Unity recognized that vaccination on this scale would require substantial strengthening of veterinary services in Africa and it embarked on what has been described as the largest ever programme for the eradication of an animal disease, the Pan-

African Rinderpest Campaign.

The programme is funded chiefly by the European Union, but a consortium of other international and bilateral organizations and 34 countries have participated in the campaign. Today rinderpest, previously widespread, is under control in all but two African countries. Its eradication will not only help to avoid the disastrous cattle losses of the past in Africa, but will also promote trade in livestock and livestock products.

Rinderpest is not confined to Africa. Eleven countries in the Middle

East are taking part in a Model Project to provide national laboratories with the equipment, training and expertise needed to ensure effective surveillance.


Since 1986, the IAEA and FAO have worked together to help African nations control and eradicate the disease,

2 chiefly by promoting the use of a simple, cheap and reliable kit that enables laboratories to monitor progress in their vaccination campaigns and by helping to establish a regional laboratory network to monitor the disease.

The work of the two agencies included the equipping and training of laboratory staff, applied research to validate the test and, ultimately, the routine use of the test in national vaccination programmes and assessment of the results. The campaign has resulted in such a high level of immunity from rinderpest that it is now possible to stop mass vaccination, thus saving several hundred million dollars each year. It is expected that a formal international declaration will be made that herds in most countries in Africa and Asia are free from this disease, but national veterinary laboratories will have to continue surveillance and stamp out remaining pockets where the virus has survived.

The project has therefore concentrated on removing the remaining pockets of infection, and on surveillance using technologies that rapidly identify the existence of the disease or confirm its elimination.


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 1 0

I n s e c t a n d p e s t c o n t r o l

The principal technique used by FAO and the IAEA in the control and elimination of insect pests is the sterile insect technique (SIT). Essentially, SIT is a novel form of insect birth control. It is specific to the target species, exploiting the behaviour of the insect when it seeks its mate. Insects are mass reared in ‘factories’ and sterilized by gamma rays emitted by a cobalt-60 source. The sterile insects are then released in a controlled manner into nature. Matings between the released, sterile insects and native or ‘wild’ insects are infertile. If enough matings take place the pest population falls and it may eventually be controlled and in some cases eradicated.


The main limitations to the technique are that the requirements for its success are extremely demanding and that the mass rearing of certain insect pests, such as moths and certain varieties of butterfly, is very difficult.


In the 1960s, the Seibersdorf Laboratory began to test techniques for the small scale rearing of sterilized insect pests. Since 1983, the FAO/IAEA entomology unit of the Agency’s Laboratories has developed means for the mass rearing of pests that cause vast losses, especially in developing countries.

They include the Mediterranean fruit fly (medfly), which attacks more than

200 varieties of fruit and vegetables, and the tsetse fly (the vector of sleeping sickness in animals and people).

The entomology unit has also made studies of the processes of radiation sterilization and the computer modelling of insect populations, and provides sterile insects for use in the field and by other institutions. Chemical pesticides or other technique are often used to bring down the insect population before the sterile insects are released. SIT accomplishes what conventional techniques cannot, namely the total eradication of the insect pest in the region where SIT is applied.

In 1988, the ‘New World Screwworm’, until then a stranger to Africa, made its appearance in Libya. The insect lays its eggs under the skin of livestock where they hatch, breed and cause festering sores that lead to infection, debility (a disease known as myiasis) and eventually death. Unchecked, the pest would have threatened to spread throughout Africa and perhaps the

Middle East and further afield.


Under a project launched by FAO in 1989 and financed by a consortium of donors, UNDP, the IAEA and FAO, millions of sterile flies were brought by air from the rearing facility in Mexico and released in Libya to swamp and eliminate the invader. The cost of the project had been estimated at $80–90 million.



On 22 June 1992, the Libyan Government declared that the New World

Screwworm had been eradicated.


In the same year the IAEA and FAO reported that the pest had been eradicated at less than half the expected cost

(less than $40 million) a year ahead of schedule.


The Mediterranean fruit fly was first introduced into Chile in 1963.


Consumer countries placed restrictions on the import of fruit from Chile where the medfly was still present in its northern provinces. The restrictions caused substantial losses to Chile’s multi-billion dollar fresh fruit export industry. After ten years of unsuccessful attempts to eradicate the fly by the use of insecticides, Chile decided to try SIT. With the help of FAO and the

IAEA, which provided training to professional staff, the services of experts and specialized equipment as well as the design of a medfly mass rearing plant, a facility with a production capacity of about 60 million sterile flies a week was completed in 1993, when sterile insects were first released. No wild medflies have been detected in Chile since early 1995. The eradication of the pest from the country was corroborated by plant protection inspectors from

Japan and the USA, thus concluding a 32-year campaign against the insect.

This was officially announced in December 1995. The ‘fly-free’ status has given the country’s fruit industry access to previously closed export markets. The benefits to the Chilean economy have been estimated at $500 million a year.


A Model Project was approved at the end of 1993 for the use of SIT in

Argentina to eradicate the medfly from large areas of the country. By the end of 1995, the medfly had been brought under control in 250 000 hectares of

Mendoza province.

The FAO/IAEA laboratories have developed a strain of the medfly that permits the separation of the sexes by the colour of their pupae. This development, which is being put to use in Argentina, will greatly increase the efficacy of the technique.


The laboratories have also recently developed a female strain of the medfly which makes it lethally sensitive to changes in temperature; this is expected to reduce the cost of rearing and releasing the insect by about 40% and to make the technique much more effective.

The tsetse fly is the vector of sleeping sickness (trypanosomiasis) in man and nagana in cattle. Its hosts are the antelope and other game and it makes large regions of Africa unusable for most breeds of cattle.


Recently, the

IAEA, with support from the USA, the United Kingdom, Belgium and other donors, began an SIT campaign to eliminate the tsetse fly from the island of

Zanzibar. The largest colony of sterile tsetse flies in the world has been established in insectaries at Tanga (on the mainland of Tanzania, opposite Zanzibar)


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 1 0 with almost one million breeding flies. It was reported that “the last wild fly

[in Zanzibar] was captured in September (1996) with no detections since then” and that “trypanosomiasis declined rapidly reaching the lowest levels over recorded…” In the meantime the Government is encouraging farmers to establish livestock on tsetse-free land by offering low interest loans.


Not all attempts to use nuclear methods to control insect pests have been successful. The first major project had to be aborted because of public fears and lack of understanding about the use of radiation. In June 1965, the governing body of the UN Special Fund approved a proposal drawn up by the IAEA and the Turkish Government for a pilot plant using a cobalt-60 source to kill insect pests in stored grain.


Rumours about the purpose of the plant began to circulate and the local Turkish press launched a campaign against the project, which a newspaper described as a plot to sterilize the local population with radioactive food. Eventually public feeling was so aroused that the project had to be abandoned — an early example of a successful antinuclear campaign! The IAEA had already procured the cobalt source but was later able to divert it to be used by Argentina in another technical co-operation project.


A second undertaking in the early days ran into a more technical problem.

The object was to eliminate the olive fly from an area in Greece by the use of what was then called the sterile male technique. The project was eventually abandoned because of difficulties in finding acceptable food on which to rear the insect artificially.

An unfortunate fate was also in store for an SIT project to eliminate the medfly in Egypt. In October 1982, the IAEA and Egypt, supported by Austria and Italy, launched a four-year project at an estimated cost of $19.3 million to eliminate this pest from the Nile Valley using the technique that had been successfully employed in Mexico.


In 1986, the Government of Egypt decided to postpone the implementation of the project

16 and it was subsequently terminated by mutual agreement between Egypt, the IAEA and Italy (the major potential donor country) without ever becoming operational. Apparently there were intractable differences between the Agency and the authorities who would have been responsible for carrying out Egypt’s tasks under the project.

F o o d i r r a d i a t i o n

The use of ionizing radiation to preserve food has had to overcome formidable obstacles from the first years of the Agency’s involvement in the


H I S T O R Y O F T H E I A E A process. Many such obstacles still exist today, for instance widespread fear that irradiation causes harmful changes in the treated food,

17 and the consequent reluctance of the food industry to invest in the process, despite the fact that it knows that irradiation causes no such deleterious effects. Largely because of concern about public reactions, governments still limit the use of the process to a few food items. Irradiation also faces competition from other methods of preserving food which may be cheaper when large stocks of food are processed.

So far, the commercial use of irradiation has been largely confined to expensive or perishable foods, especially spices, onions and fresh fruit, but it has also been used to preserve poultry, seafood and even wine. It is interesting to note that two countries that are world renowned for their cuisines,

France and China, are amongst those that make use of food irradiation, as does the food conscious USA, while the United Kingdom is not yet amongst the 39 countries that permit large scale irradiation of food products.

Despite these obstacles, food irradiation has been making progress in the last decade. Chemical fumigants are demonstrably carcinogenic and their use is increasingly prohibited. The most widely used refrigerants, chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs, are also increasingly proscribed because of the damage they do to the ozone layer (although other harmless chemical refrigerants are being substituted for CFCs). The number of cases of salmonella poisoning has grown significantly as a result of the consumption of infected chickens that have been mass reared, slaughtered and dressed by automated techniques. The irradiation of poultry could greatly reduce or eliminate the risk of salmonella infection.

The quantity of irradiated spices provides an example of the growing use of the technique: about 6000–7000 tonnes in 1987; nearly 20 000 tonnes in

1991 and more than 45 000 tonnes in 1995.


One of the main aims of the FAO/IAEA programme has been to investigate whether foodstuffs that had been irradiated underwent any physical or chemical changes that could reduce their wholesomeness. In January 1965, the IAEA, FAO, ENEA in Italy and the Austrian Atomic Energy Society jointly started work on a project for the irradiation of fruit and fruit juice at the

Austrian Nuclear Research Centre at Seibersdorf. The project lasted three years and confirmed the safety of the process, but Austria has still not approved the use of radiation for preserving any foodstuff.


On 1 January 1971, the IAEA, FAO and WHO launched the first large international test of the wholesomeness of irradiated food at Karlsruhe in Germany.

A committee of the three agencies had given a provisional five-year clearance to irradiated potatoes, wheat and wheat products. The clearance would only be


P A R T I I — C H A P T E R 1 0 confirmed, however, if the foodstuffs could pass a large scale, five-year test to ascertain whether irradiation induced any unwanted somatic or genetic effects and whether it affected the palatability of the food.


The test required the feeding on irradiated food of a large number of various species of laboratory animals during the five years of the test, and the eventual post-mortem examination of the animals. More than 23 countries took part in the project, which was subsequently extended until 1978. Another committee of the three agencies reviewed the results of the test. It showed that there had been no harmful effects.

The three agencies also drew up a standard for irradiated foods which was subsequently accepted by the WHO/FAO commission responsible for the international Codex Alimentarius.


An expert committee also reported to the commission that the irradiation of any food up to an average dose of

10 kilogray presented no toxicological hazard, required no further testing and introduced no special nutritional or microbiological problems. The agencies also published a code of practice for operating food irradiation plants.

In 1984, the three agencies established an international consultative group on food irradiation to advise them on subjects such as ensuring the safety of food irradiation, appropriate legislation to permit the marketing of irradiated food, the economic feasibility of the process and the international trade in irradiated food. In 1988, an international conference entitled

‘Acceptance, Control of and Trade in Irradiated Food’ adopted a guide on principles for the acceptance of irradiated food. By 1994, 44 countries had joined the group and its mandate was extended until 1999.


Summing up, over the last 40 years more than adequate scientific data have become available to show that food irradiation is safe and effective in preserving a growing range of foodstuffs with no significant side effects. The main obstacles to the wider use of the