Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia


  Annual Report 1998-99




This Annex details R&D and consultancy work undertaken by ASNO for, and cost-free to, the IAEA. There are two main sections: current tasks and tasks completed in the reporting period.


1.1 Consultancy tasks

Task 1: To critically review and evaluate specified packages of information

In October 1997, ASNO accepted an IAEA task proposal embracing a number of moderate-sized consultancy subtasks in support of the implementation of strengthened safeguards.

Subtask A - To evaluate information on mining and milling of uranium for safeguards purposes

This task seeks to: determine the circumstances under which the IAEA might make a complementary access visit to a uranium mining/milling site; what verification activities would be applicable; and how declared information about mining/milling activities would contribute to an assessment on undeclared activities. A draft analysis was submitted to the IAEA in June 1998. Using ASNO’s interim report, in June 1999 the IAEA conducted a visit to the Ranger mine, and we will finalise our report on receipt of the Agency’s formal comments.

Subtask B - To develop ‘logic trees’ designed to evaluate proliferation pathways

This task requires the application of techniques used in safety and reliability analysis (fault trees) to the acquisition of nuclear material for weapons purposes. The technique presents an integrated inventory of proliferation strategies, including those that require diversion of safeguarded nuclear material and those that do not. It allows the analyst to see easily where classical safeguards measures and safeguards-strengthening measures are complementary (i.e. where one set of measures fills in gaps left by the other), and where they are redundant (i.e. their coverage overlaps).

The results, as presented in a draft ASNO report, have been adopted by US safeguards specialists as a basis for a procedure to evaluate the effectiveness of integrated safeguards proposals. We expect to submit our final report in mid-2000.

Subtask C - To evaluate the ways in which technology transfers (both within and outside the internationally established export control regimes) contribute to clandestine weapon programs

Through its support program, the IAEA has made good progress in identifying indicators for the existence of specific nuclear processes. However, there has been little evaluation of technology transfers that might point to a country’s longer-term nuclear aspirations. Under this subtask, the routes for transfer of technology needed to establish an undeclared capability for nuclear weapon production will be studied.

Subtask D - Provide assistance in the use of the scientific literature

Scientific literature represents a significant source of information about the capability and possible intentions of a country. A literature study can substantially strengthen any evaluation about a country’s nuclear ambitions. The IAEA has established a small international group of experts (including an ASNO officer) to provide it with the assistance and guidance needed to exploit scientific literature effectively for safeguards purposes. ASNO participation in this exercise is funded under ASAP.

Subtask E - Provide assistance in the collection and handling of open source information

Under this subtask, ASNO is assisting the IAEA to establish logical mechanisms (search trees) for searching the Agency’s databases of open-source literature for potentially proliferation-relevant items. This task is almost complete. The trees which have been released for use by the IAEA’s Divisions of Operations have been favourably received by them.

Also under this subtask, an ASNO officer reviewed the IAEA’s Nuclear Trafficking database. His recommendations have been taken into account in a reconstruction of this database, and this element of the subtask is regarded as complete.

Task 2: To develop verification methodologies and strategies for a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty

ASNO has provided a senior staff member as a part-time consultant to the IAEA on matters relating to the proposed FMCT. The consultant is helping the Agency to assess the implications of possible alternative approaches to FMCT. Although significant progress has been made, there is much more to be done in the absence of international consensus on how a FMCT verification regime might function.

Task 3: To develop and evaluate implementation strategies for integrated safeguards

Under this task, six IAEA non-nuclear-weapons States are each developing integrated safeguards approaches for their own particular fuel cycles. The effectiveness of these proposed approaches will be evaluated using the US-designed procedure referred to at Subtask B above. The intention is to derive generic guidance on how integrated safeguards schemes should be designed from a study of specific real cases.

Task 4: To review and propose revisions to basic safeguards implementation parameters

The IAEA has acknowledged the need, in parallel with the development of strengthened and integrated safeguards concepts, to re-examine certain basic parameters used in safeguards, such as timeliness goals, significant quantities, and the classification of nuclear material for safeguards purposes. An ASNO paper on timeliness goals, prepared under this task, has been used by the IAEA as a working paper for SAGSI. Papers on other basic parameters will be submitted to the Agency in the next reporting period.

1.2 Unattended verification and monitoring systems

Task 5 Manage the installation and trial of reactor power monitors at the HIFAR reactor

This task requires the installation and demonstration of two categories of power monitor at ANSTO’s HIFAR research reactor. The purpose of these monitors is to detect operation of the reactor at a power higher than declared and detect undeclared shutdowns. Both these activities could be linked to the production of plutonium for potential use in a nuclear-weapons program or associated R&D.

Task 6 Manage the installation of a trial remote monitoring system in the HIFAR materials balance area

In collaboration with the USDOE and SNL, ASNO is designing a remote monitoring system for the materials balance area of the HIFAR research reactor. The purpose of this is to save IAEA inspection resources by reducing the number of routine inspections at HIFAR each year from four to one, with the additional possibility of a short-notice random inspection on average once per year. The equipment will be provided by SNL and it is planned that the system will go into routine safeguards use in 2001.

Task 7 Manage the trial of new surveillance technology in collaboration with Indonesia

ASNO has reached agreement with the Indonesian National Atomic Energy Agency (BATAN) that we will collaborate to demonstrate Australian-designed surveillance technology in a safeguards application. The advantage of this system is that, where surveillance pictures are initiated by a scene change, it can be made much more selective than older systems, and only start taking pictures when a safeguards-relevant event occurs. Thus the task of reviewing the surveillance records is reduced. This task has been delayed due to a lack of funds.

Task 8 Provide an expert consultant in Vienna who will coordinate the implementation of digital image surveillance

The IAEA is deploying about 400 digital surveillance systems to replace the relatively unreliable analog systems currently in use. The consultant coordinates activities such as acceptance testing, site surveys, commissioning systems in the field, and maintenance. An Australian expert in digital surveillance systems, Mr Grahame Wilson, has been seconded to the Agency in Vienna for this purpose.

1.3 Data Authentication evaluation tasks

Task 9 To evaluate information technology security criteria for safeguards equipment systems

Unattended safeguards equipment in the field requires data authentication to provide a high level of assurance that the generated safeguards data are secure from unauthorised access and insertion of false data (tampering). Under various support programs, the IAEA has organised assessments of the vulnerability of new authentication systems, normally in countries other than those where the authentication system was developed or is intended to be used. There is now a need to adopt standardised evaluation criteria and assessment methods that are effective and provide a common basis for the specification and certification of IAEA safeguards equipment providing data authentication and encryption. The Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) continues to play a leading role in the development of criteria for the acceptance of such systems.

1.4 Analysis of environmental samples

Task 10 To analyse environmental samples using accelerator mass spectrometry techniques

Environmental sampling is an important new safeguards measure that will greatly enhance the IAEA’s capability to detect undeclared nuclear activities. ANSTO has demonstrated that mass spectrometry using a tandem accelerator can be used to analyse environmental samples with very high sensitivity. It has participated in a round-robin exercise for the measurement of I-129 (a long-lived fission product) in test samples prepared in the US, with good results. ASNO has supplemented the funding to allow ANSTO to construct a new beam-line facility for uranium and plutonium and complete the R&D needed to perfect its analytical techniques. At the time of writing this Report, ANSTO was awaiting delivery from the IAEA of samples with a known uranium-236 content. Analysis of these samples forms part of the procedure for accreditation of ANSTO as an IAEA laboratory. Accreditation will allow ANSTO to analyse environmental samples routinely for the IAEA on a commercial basis.


2.1 Consultancy tasks

Task 1 To assist in the development of integrated safeguards implementation concepts

ASNO seconded one of its senior officers to a two-week experts’ meeting convened by the IAEA in September 1998. The output from this workshop was a draft working paper that identified issues and proposed a conceptual framework for the business of a Consultants’ meeting on Integrated Safeguards (held in December 1998).

2.2 Unattended verification and monitoring systems

Task 2 To develop and trial an authenticated tracking and monitoring system (ATMS)

ASNO and the USDOE undertook a joint project to demonstrate and evaluate an authenticated tracking and monitoring system (ATMS) for nuclear material in transit. The final trial of the system, commenced in late February 1997, tracked a container of yellowcake from the Olympic Dam mine site in South Australia to Rotterdam, arriving over six weeks later. The system worked well throughout the trial and results published in the July 1998 INMM annual proceedings.

2.3 Data Authentication evaluation tasks

Task 3 To conduct a vulnerability assessment of the Integrated Local Operating Network (ILON) information security features

ILON is a computer network developed by Los Alamos National Laboratory in the US to collect and manage data from a number of monitoring devices making up an unattended monitoring system. The vulnerabilities of the system to defeat were assessed by DSD officers in Vienna in September/October 1998. The preliminary report of the evaluation was provided to the IAEA in November 1998, and the final report was submitted in January 1999.


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