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Reflections on Safeguards Culture

Reflections on Safeguards Culture

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Introduction

“Culture” is a notion that describes the values, norms, systems, beliefs, ideas, aspirations, technology, and arts, as well as the social, economic, and political organization of humankind as a whole. Culture is expressed by individuals, associations, communities, nations, governments, and institutions.Participants in specific fields of collective human knowledge may share a culture of values, goals, and conduct. Concerning the use of nuclear energy, widely shared cultural aspirations include the aim to reduce the risk of devastating effects of nuclear activities, including severe accidents and the use of nuclear weapons. “Nuclear culture” therefore includes norms, behaviors, and activities aiming to minimize the risks associated with nuclear weapons, nuclear terrorism, and nuclear accidents. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is responsible for coordinating international efforts in promoting the safe, secure, and peaceful use of nuclear energy and countering its negative effects, including the proliferation of nuclear weapons. With these goals in mind, the IAEA’s safeguards system was developed to verify compliance of states with their obligations concerning the peaceful use of nuclear energy, undertaken in safeguards agreements concluded with the IAEA. The IAEA safeguards system serves as the verification mechanism for the non-proliferation obligations of non-nuclear-weapon States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

The concepts of “nuclear safety culture” and“nuclear security culture” are well established in IAEA practice, but no similar terminology is used for nuclear safeguards. This paper discusses whether there is benefit in introducing the notion of safeguards culture as part of promoting safeguards principles and concepts,and integrating it into the ongoing development of safeguards among institutions, organizations,and personnel. This question is not limited to the IAEA: safeguards implementation should be approached as a collaborative effort between the IAEA, governments and national safeguards authorities, and facility operators.

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