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NTI and CENESS Offer Recommendations to Strengthen International Nuclear Safeguards

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The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and the Moscow-based Center for Energy and Security Studies (CENESS) think tank have published a series of new papers recommending new approaches to strengthen international safeguards, the system used by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for verifying that countries are living up to their pledges not to use nuclear programs for nuclear weapons purposes. The papers, released in English and Russian, are the result of a 2021 project aimed at bridging a growing gap between Russian and U.S.-Western views on the effectiveness and sustainability of IAEA safeguards.

Even before the war in Ukraine, a growing divergence between the United States and Russia at the Vienna-based IAEA was contributing to the erosion of the long-standing “Vienna spirit” of cooperation and consensus that allowed the agency to successfully carry out its work as an independent technical authority promoting safe, secure, and peaceful uses of nuclear technology. In 2021, NTI and CENESS held seven virtual meetings with more than 20 independent safeguards experts to discuss ways to close the gap between Russia and the United States on the future of nuclear safeguards. The 20 experts who participated in the meetings have deep experience in diplomatic and technical aspects of IAEA safeguards policy and implementation. They discussed topics ranging from safeguards culture to effectiveness to innovation.

The four papers released in English and Russian provide specific recommendation for strengthening four key areas of safeguards: (1) safeguards efficiency, (2) safeguards culture, (3) safeguards sustainability, and (4) safeguards effectiveness. The recommendations are intended to start discussions about these important issues and highlight areas of potential common ground for Russia and the US.

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