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The Future of IAEA Safeguards: Rebuilding the Vienna Spirit through Russian-U.S. Expert Dialogue

The Future of IAEA Safeguards: Rebuilding the Vienna Spirit through Russian-U.S. Expert Dialogue

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The Future of IAEA Safeguards: Rebuilding the Vienna Spirit through Russian-U.S. Expert Dialogue

A growing divergence between the United States and Russia at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has contributed to the erosion of the long-standing “Vienna spirit” that allowed the agency to successfully carry out its work as an independent technical authority promoting safe, secure, and peaceful uses of nuclear technology. NTI and the Center for Energy and Security Studies (CENESS) launched a two-year joint project in 2019 to address these challenges. The project brought together leading experts from Russia and the United States to build mutual understanding of current political and technical challenges to fully implementing IAEA safeguards and to build support for more productive cooperation and collaboration between the two countries in this area.

This new joint report, The Future of IAEA Safeguards: Rebuilding the Vienna Spirit through Russian-U.S. Expert Dialogue, is the result of this project.

IAEA Safeguards Report Coers

The report includes four short papers written by U.S. and Russian experts with recommendations for the safeguards community, diplomats, and the public to bolster cooperation in this space. The papers include:

  • “Principles and Recommendations for Implementation of the IAEA Safeguards System,” by Grigory Berdennikov, John Carlson, Thomas Countryman, and Anton Khlopkov (Download in English | Russian)
  • “IAEA Safeguards: Reaching Safeguards Conclusions,” by Mark Hibbs, Vladimir Kuchinov, Laura Rockwood, and Alexander Tuzov (Download in English | Russian)
  • “IAEA Safeguards System: Implementing the State-Level Concept,” by Valery Bytchkov and Jill N. Cooley (Download in English | Russian)
  • “IAEA Safeguards: Preparing for the Future,” by Shirley Johnson, Nikolai Khlebnikov, Vladimir Kuchinov, and Thomas Shea (Download in English | Russian

A framing paper by project co-chairs Corey Hinderstein of NTI and Anton Khlopkov of CENESS identifies several important themes that provide insight into areas where officials from the United States, Russia, and the IAEA, as well as from other IAEA member states, can find common ground in strengthening cooperation and bolstering IAEA safeguards. These include:

  • Establishing and maintaining regular Russian–U.S. channels and developing a common set of principles for safeguards implementation
  • Strengthening the state evaluation process
  • Increasing transparency and communication
  • Drawing conclusions based on IAEA safeguards activities
  • Planning for and investing in the IAEA’s future.

Underscoring the importance of cooperation, the authors conclude that, “the future credibility and sustainability of the NPT [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty] and the nuclear non-proliferation regime depend on the IAEA, and the IAEA depends on its two most powerful sources of resources, expertise, and rhetoric. It is in the world’s best interests for the United States and Russia to work together.”

Download the report in English or Russian via the links below:

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