Future Directions in IAEA Safeguards

John Carlson
November 9, 2018

The IAEA safeguards system faces serious challenges, writes John Carlson in a new Discussion Paper published by the Project on Managing the Atom, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School.

The IAEA must not only contend with increasing tensions among the major powers and the growing salience of nuclear weapons, it must also confront a series of specific safeguards controversies:
• How can the IAEA increase member states’ understanding of the basis for its safeguards conclusions?
• How much information should the IAEA reveal, and how much should it keep confidential?
• How can the IAEA incorporate a broader range of information, to improve its ability to understand possible discrepancies in the information it receives from member states?
• How can different verification regimes share information, contributing to the effectiveness of each?
• Will new verification missions be required in the future—for example, in support of nuclear disarmament?

The resolution of these issues will have a specific impact in particular cases, and will also have a broader impact in terms of states’ attitudes towards, and confidence in, the safeguards system.  Carlson offers practical ideas for resolving these controversies and strengthening IAEA safeguards—a key mechanism contributing to international peace and security. The link to this paper is here.

John Carlson is a Nonresident Fellow at the Lowy Institute, a member of the Advisory Council of the International Luxembourg Forum, an Associate of the Project on Managing the Atom, Belfer Center, Harvard University and a member of VERTIC's International Verification Consultants Network. Carlson was an official in the Australian government for more than four decades. He is a Counselor to the Nuclear Threat Initiative as well.


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