2019:14 IAEA Safeguards: Staying Ahead of the Game

SSM perspective


The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) called for research proposals relating to non-proliferation. This call resulted in SSM accepting a proposal from the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP) on “Improving IAEA Safeguards for Non-Proliferation and Disarmament: Assessing the Options for, and Feasibility of, Further Strengthening Safeguards”.

SSM has a long history of supporting research on nuclear safeguards and non-proliferation, for example by providing funding for universities as part of building competence for future challenges and to help resolve technical issues. Since much of the practical international safeguards work is carried out by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), this organisation is one of the focal points of SSM’s interests. Sweden also runs a support programme for IAEA safeguards, which is administered by SSM. Combining efforts devoted to general safeguards research with additional technical support to the IAEA makes for a productive working environment.

In the interest of guiding not only the work of SSM, but also other Swedish and international safeguards initiatives, SSM was attracted by the concept of assessing possible options for further strengthening of safeguards and the feasibility of achieving such strengthening measures. For this reason, the decision was made to provide funding for this project. In no way should SSM’s funding of this project be perceived as criticism of the current approach to safeguards – SSM fully supports the IAEA’s mandate and mission. However, since evolutions in e.g. technology must be taken into account, SSM is of the view that the international community needs to keep safeguards measures and approaches up to date. In this regard, all interested parties have a role to play in ensuring that safeguards remain effective and efficient.


The report describes a large number of recommendations relating to:

  • Outreach and communications;
  • Balancing independence and transparency;
  • Evolution of safeguards; and
  • Applications of emerging technology.

The recommendations presented in this report are directed at all parties and stakeholders with interests in further strengthening of safeguards. Several of the recommendations focus on the IAEA, as this organisation is the centre of gravity for international safeguards in practice; however, interested States also have a large role to play.


The report can serve as guide to those who are interested in lending their effort to technically high standard nuclear safeguards. At the same time, the practical work sometimes brings political aspects into play. Ultimately, this demonstrates that multiple stakeholders around the globe have a role to play. Both political and technical viewpoints need to be addressed. This is an important but difficult task, something that this report has striven to achieve.

Need for further research

There is always room for improvement in a field such as nuclear safeguards, and SSM has the ambition to continue supporting relevant research. In the future, this may be accomplished by SSM making broad calls for research proposals.