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IAEA Lab Facility Upgrade Proceeds

The International Atomic Energy Agency said on Thursday it is making progress in the effort to replace a key analytical facility at Seibersdorf, Austria (see GSN, April 1, 2010).

Agency safeguards chief Herman Nackaerts last month briefed IAEA member nations on the status of the new Nuclear Material Laboratory, which would take up the duties of an older site in use since 1976 and permit the U.N. organization to meet its own updated standards for securing atomic materials, according to an IAEA press release.

The laboratory analyzes samples collected both within and beyond locations that are placed under IAEA safeguards, which are intended to ensure that civilian atomic operations do not involve illicit activities.

Upon its scheduled completion in 2014, the new Nuclear Material Laboratory would "provide the IAEA with a modern and expandable capability for nuclear sample analyses, collected from all points along the nuclear fuel cycle," IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said in released remarks.

The new building will house in one place operations now spread over several structures at the Seibersdorf site.

"The successful completion of the extension of clean laboratory space for the Environmental Sample Laboratory (ESL), on time and within budget, represented another significant project milestone," the agency said. The site's uranium analysis capability, "which IAEA scientists may extend in the future to the analysis of plutonium, constitutes a powerful tool for confirming the absence of undeclared materials and activities in states under safeguards."

"The role played by the IAEA's Analytical Laboratories in safeguarding nuclear material around the world is vital in upholding the integrity of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty," Amano said, referring to broad operations that cover both the Nuclear Material Laboratory and the Environmental Sample Laboratory (International Atomic Energy Agency release, Jan. 5).

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