The overwhelming majority of States have made a political commitment -
carefully reached and strongly held - against the acquisition of nuclear
weapons. This commitment is given legal expression through treaties for
the exclusively peaceful use of nuclear materials and technology. The
most important of these treaties - because it is almost universal - is the
Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
The establishment of a credible verification mechanism, to provide
confidence that all parties are honouring their treaty commitments, plays a
vital part in reinforcing those commitments. The principal verification
mechanism is IAEA safeguards. Non-Nuclear-Weapon States (NNWS) Party to
the NPT accept IAEA safeguards on all their existing and future nuclear
activities full scope or comprehensive safeguards.
Safeguards fulfil an essential political objective - to exercise a positive
influence on the behaviour of States, by:
- providing assurance to reinforce non-proliferation commitments; and
- deterring non-compliance through the risk of timely detection.
Importantly, safeguards serve to assist States who recognise it is in their
own interest to demonstrate their compliance to others. Thus safeguards
can be seen as a vital confidence-building measure (CBM) - in their own right,
and as a major complement to the broader range of international CBMs.
As will be outlined in this paper, these other CBMs include
regionally-based non-proliferation arrangements. IAEA safeguards are an
essential component of regional arrangements, and such arrangements can be a
valuable complement to IAEA safeguards.
Historically, regional arrangements have been important in establishing the
confidence necessary to underpin non-proliferation commitments: in the case of
Euratom, pre-dating NPT safeguards; in the case of ABACC, laying the
foundation for the States concerned to join the NPT. In the future, we
can expect regional arrangements to continue to play an important role:
- complementing IAEA safeguards, particularly as new safeguards mechanisms
evolve, as new nuclear programs are established, and especially with the
increasing importance of transparency in nuclear programs;
- meeting particular confidence-building needs in areas such as South
Asia, the Middle East, and perhaps also the Korean Peninsula;
- possibly, providing additional confidence-building to complement new
regimes such FMCT (the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty);
- another possibility is the establishment and operation of sensitive
stages of the fuel cycle on a regional basis.
It should be noted that this paper reflects the views of the author and
does not necessarily represent Australian Government policy.
2. EXISTING REGIONAL NON-PROLIFERATION ARRANGEMENTS
There are two broad categories of regional arrangements that are relevant
to nuclear non-proliferation: those which establish political
non-proliferation commitments; and those which establish regional safeguards
In the first category are the nuclear weapon-free zone treaties, of which
there are currently four: the Treaty of Tlatelolco, the Treaty of Rarotonga,
the Treaty of Pelindaba, and the Bangkok Treaty. Reference might also be
made to the Antarctic Treaty, which proscribes military activities, nuclear
explosions and disposal of radioactive waste in Antarctica. Although the
nuclear weapon-free zone treaties contain verification provisions, it is
notable that they do not establish separate safeguards systems but rely on
In the second category are the Euratom Treaty, establishing the European
Atomic Energy Community, and the Bilateral Agreement between Brazil and
Argentina establishing ABACC, the Brazilian-Argentine Agency for Accounting
and Control of Nuclear Materials.
3. NUCLEAR WEAPON-FREE ZONES
The concept of such zones was first developed in the late 1950s, as a
possible complementary measure to the efforts of the international community
towards establishing a global nuclear non-proliferation regime. From the
outset of the NPT negotiations the NNWS sought assurance from the NWS to
guarantee their security from nuclear attack. Formal security assurances
are not included in the NPT itself. However, the right to conclude
nuclear weapon-free zone treaties is incorporated in the NPT - Article VII
reaffirms the right of any group of States to conclude regional treaties in
order to assure the total absence of nuclear weapons in their respective
The existing nuclear weapon-free zone treaties are outlined below. In
addition, there is a comparative table of their principal provisions in the
Attachment to this paper.
A. Treaty of Tlatelolco
The Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America predates
the NPT, being signed on 14 February 1967 at a regional meeting of Latin
American countries at Tlatelolco, Mexico City. The Treaty of Tlatelolco
was the first international agreement that aimed at excluding nuclear weapons
from an inhabited region of the globe (the first such agreement, the Antarctic
Treaty of 1959, applies to an area that has no permanent population). It
was also the first treaty to make explicit provision for what have come to be
termed challenge inspections - that is, inspections initiated at the
request of a Party - to verify compliance with the Treaty.
The Treaty entered into force on 22 April 1968, and has 33 Parties.
Parties to the Treaty of Tlatelolco undertake to use the nuclear material
and facilities which are under their jurisdiction exclusively for peaceful
purposes, and to prohibit and prevent in their respective territories:
- the testing, use, manufacture, production, or acquisition by any means
whatsoever of any nuclear weapons, by the Parties themselves, directly or
indirectly, on behalf of anyone else or in any other way; and
- the receipt, storage, installation, deployment, and any form of
possession of any nuclear weapons, directly or indirectly, by the Parties
themselves, by anyone on their behalf or in any other way.
The Parties also undertake to refrain from engaging in, encouraging or
authorising, directly or indirectly, or in any way participating in the
testing, use, manufacture, production, possession, or control of any nuclear
The Treaty establishes an international organisation, OPANAL (the Agency
for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America), to supervise
compliance with treaty obligations. The Treaty requires each Party to
conclude a safeguards agreement with the IAEA, and provides for two forms of
verification activity: IAEA safeguards pursuant to these safeguards
agreements, or special inspections undertaken by OPANAL at the request
of another Party if a breach of the Treaty were suspected. In 1992 the
Treaty was amended to designate the IAEA as having the sole authority to
conduct such special inspections.
An important aspect of the Treaty, which potentially compromised its value
as a non-proliferation instrument, was its provision for Parties to have the
right to develop and carry out peaceful nuclear explosions (PNEs),
provided this was done under the supervision of the IAEA and OPANAL.
Fortunately no Party availed itself of this right, and over the course of time
all Parties except Cuba have also joined the NPT, so the development of PNEs
is no longer a possibility.
B. Treaty of Rarotonga
The South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty, which declares a nuclear
weapon-free zone covering most of the Pacific territories south of the
equator, entered into force on 11 December 1986. The Treaty has 13
Parties, members of the South Pacific Forum.
The Treaty commits its Parties:
- not to manufacture or otherwise acquire, possess or have control over
any nuclear explosive device by any means anywhere inside or outside the
South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone;
- not to seek or receive any assistance in the manufacture or acquisition
of any nuclear explosive device;
- not to take any action to assist or encourage the manufacture or
acquisition of any nuclear explosive device by any State.
Other undertakings by the Parties include:
- not to provide source or special fissionable material, or equipment or
material especially designed or prepared for the processing, use or
production of special fissionable material, except for exclusively
peaceful non-explosive purposes under strict non-proliferation measures;
- to support the continued effectiveness of the international
non-proliferation system based on the NPT and the IAEA safeguards system;
- to prevent the stationing or testing on their territories of any nuclear
- to prevent the dumping of radioactive wastes at sea within the South
Pacific Nuclear Free Zone.
The basic verification mechanism under the Treaty is provided by a
requirement for Parties to conclude safeguards agreements with the IAEA
equivalent to NPT safeguards. This is complemented by the following
measures, coordinated by the Director of the South Pacific Bureau for Economic
- a requirement for each Party to report on any significant event
within its jurisdiction affecting the implementation of this Treaty;
- a complaints procedure which can be invoked if a Party believes there is
a breach, including provision for special inspection by inspectors
appointed by a Consultative Committee.
C. Treaty of Pelindaba
The Treaty of Pelindaba creates an African nuclear weapon-free zone - the
territory of the continent of Africa, islands States members of the
Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and all islands considered by the OAU in
its resolutions to be part of Africa. The Treaty was signed in Cairo on
11 April 1996, but has not yet gained the number of ratifications
necessary (28) for entry into force.
The Treaty commits its Parties:
- not to conduct research on, develop, stockpile or otherwise acquire,
possess or have control over any nuclear explosive device by any means
- not to seek or receive any assistance in the research on, development,
manufacture, stockpiling or acquisition, or possession of any nuclear
- not to take any action to assist or encourage the research on,
development, manufacture, stockpiling or acquisition, or possession of any
nuclear explosive device.
In addition, Parties are required:
- to conduct all activities for the peaceful use of nuclear energy under
strict non-proliferation measures to provide assurance of exclusively
- to conclude a comprehensive safeguards agreement with IAEA for the
purpose of verifying compliance with the above undertakings;
- not to provide source or special fissionable material, or equipment or
material especially designed or prepared for the processing, use or
production of special fissionable material, to any non-nuclear-weapon
State unless subject to a comprehensive safeguards agreement concluded
with the IAEA.
For the purpose of ensuring compliance with the undertakings under the
Treaty, the Treaty establishes the African Commission on Nuclear Energy.
The Parties are required:
- to submit an annual report to the Commission on its nuclear activities
as well as other matters relating to the Treaty. These reports are
collated and circulated by the Commission;
- to include in this annual report a copy of the overall conclusions of
the most recent report by the IAEA on its inspection activities in the
territory of the Party concerned, and advise the Commission promptly of
any change in those conclusions.
If a Party considers that another Party is in breach of Treaty obligations,
there is a complaints procedure, which may include technical visits agreed
upon between the Parties. If the matter is not resolved, the complaint
may be brought to the Commission. The Commission may request the IAEA to
conduct a special inspection. The Commission may also establish its own
D. Bangkok Treaty
The Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty (SEANWFZ) was signed on
15 December 1995 in Bangkok, at the fifth ASEAN summit. The Treaty
entered into force on 27 March 1997. There are 10 Parties, the 7 members
of ASEAN and 3 ASEAN observer nations.
Each Party undertakes not to, anywhere inside or outside the Zone:
- develop, manufacture or otherwise acquire, possess or have control over
- station or transport nuclear weapons by any means; or
- test or use nuclear weapons.
Each Party also undertakes not to allow, in its territory, any other State
- develop, manufacture or otherwise acquire, possess or have control over
- station nuclear weapons; or
- test or use nuclear weapons.
In addition, each Party undertakes:
- to use nuclear material and facilities which are within its territory
and areas under its jurisdiction and control exclusively for peaceful
- to support the continued effectiveness of the international
non-proliferation system based on the NPT and the IAEA safeguards system.
The basic verification mechanism is provided by IAEA safeguards - each
Party is required to conclude a full scope safeguards agreement with the IAEA.
The Treaty establishes a Commission for the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free
Zone, with the function of overseeing the implementation of the Treaty and
ensuring compliance with its provisions.
Each Party shall submit reports to the Commission on any significant event
within its territory and areas under its jurisdiction and control affecting
the implementation of the Treaty. The Parties may exchange information
on matters arising under or in relation to the Treaty.
A Party has the right to request another Party for clarification concerning
any situation which may be considered ambiguous or which may give rise to
doubts about compliance with the Treaty, and shall inform the Commission of
such a request. A Party may request the Commission to seek such
clarification from another Party. The Commission may send a fact-finding
mission, consisting of three inspectors from the IAEA who are neither
nationals of the requesting nor receiving State, to another Party in order to
clarify and resolve a such a situation.
4. REGIONAL SAFEGUARDS ARRANGEMENTS
The Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community, or Euratom,
was concluded in Rome in 1957. Euratom has two principal objectives: to
provide assurance of nuclear fuel supply; and to provide assurance that
nuclear materials are not diverted from their intended uses as declared by the
Under the Euratom Treaty, all special fissile materials in the
Community are owned by Euratom itself. Ores, source materials and
special fissile materials are subject to Euratom safeguards, except materials
intended to meet defence requirements. Euratom safeguards involve
inspections to verify accounts maintained by the operators of nuclear
It is noteworthy that the Euratom Treaty does not contain specific
non-proliferation commitments. The purpose of safeguards is to verify
that nuclear materials are not diverted from their declared uses these can
include military use, in which case safeguards cease to apply to the material
concerned. Euratom safeguards therefore can be seen as having a transparency
rather than a non-proliferation function, presumably on the assumption that
non-proliferation objectives could be achieved through political intervention
where necessary. It was not until the conclusion of the NPT, and until
all the Euratom Member States became parties to the NPT, that
non-proliferation commitments were secured directly and in a legally binding
The Euratom Treaty was concluded in the same year - 1957 - as the
establishment of the IAEA, and the Euratom and IAEA safeguards systems
developed in parallel. The formal relationship between the two
organisations was established when Euratom and its Member States concluded an
NPT safeguards agreement with the IAEA, in 1973.
While in many ways Euratom and IAEA safeguards are very similar, there are
some significant differences of approach. One is that the Euratom
Safeguards Office (ESO) regularly assigns staff to inspection duties in their
own countries, which is totally contrary to IAEA practice. ESO maintains
there are language and observational advantages in doing this. Another
is that both the performance and the evaluation of IAEA safeguards are
relatively transparent to Member States, through documents such as the
Safeguards Implementation Report (SIR) and the Safeguards Technical Report (STR).
There are no corresponding documents from ESO. A third difference is
emerging some Member States are not prepared to give ESO the widened
authority being given to the IAEA under the Additional Protocol (INFCIRC/540),
and the allocation of responsibilities in this regard is still being resolved.
New Partnership Approach
As has been noted, the Euratom and IAEA safeguards systems have developed
in parallel. Over the years this led to significant duplication and
inefficiencies, a situation which was becoming of increasing concern at the
policy level in both organisations. In 1992 ESO and the IAEA reached
agreement on a New Partnership Approach, under which the two organisations
undertook to optimise practical arrangements and to use commonly agreed:
- safeguards approaches;
- inspection planning and procedures;
- inspection activities; and
- inspection instruments, measures and techniques.
They agreed that inspection activities would be performed on the basis of
the one-job-one-man principle, supplemented by quality control measures
to enable both organisations to satisfy their respective obligations to reach
their own independent conclusions.
As indicated above, the development of strengthened IAEA safeguards and the
introduction of the Additional Protocol have disturbed the status quo
in the implementation of safeguards in the European Union. The European
Commission is reportedly considering a proposal for transferring a number of
safeguards activities from ESO to the Member States. It is not clear
whether this will be agreed, nor is it clear what further changes may be in
prospect, but it is understood a number of EU Members are questioning the need
to maintain two safeguards systems.
B. ABACC - Brazilian-Argentine Agency for Accounting and
Control of Nuclear Materials
ABACC is an international organisation set up under the Bilateral Agreement
between Brazil and Argentina covering the Exclusively Peaceful Use of Nuclear
Energy, which entered into force on 12 December 1991.
The main function of ABACC is to administer and apply the Common System for
Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials (SCCC) to all nuclear materials in
all nuclear activities in Brazil and Argentina, in order to ensure that these
materials are not improperly used for purposes not authorised under the
Bilateral Agreement. Through the Bilateral Agreement Brazil and
Argentina agree to submit to the SCCC all nuclear materials used in all
nuclear activities carried out within their respective territories, or under
their jurisdiction or control.
Additionally both States agree to abstain from holding, encouraging or
authorising, either directly and indirectly, or participating in any manner in
any testing, use, fabrication, production or acquisition through any means
whatsoever of any nuclear explosive device. The Agreement does not
proscribe non-explosive military applications of nuclear energy, such as naval
ABACC fulfils its functions by applying safeguards to all nuclear materials
subject to the SCCC in Brazil and Argentina. Verification is
concentrated at the nuclear fuel cycle stages that involve the production,
processing, use or storage of nuclear material from which a nuclear weapon
could be made. Verification efforts are to be sufficient for ABACC to
achieve the objective of the safeguards: timely detection of any diversion of
significant quantities of nuclear material.
In March 1994 Brazil and Argentina joined with ABACC and the IAEA in
concluding the Quadripartite Agreement. Under this agreement, Brazil and
Argentina agreed to accept the application of IAEA safeguards covering all
nuclear materials in all nuclear activities carried out within their
respective territories, or at any place under their jurisdictional control,
with the sole objective of ensuring that such materials are not improperly
used for applications in nuclear weapons or other explosive nuclear explosive
Principles regulating the implementation of the Quadripartite Agreement
include inter alia:
- the IAEA has the right and the obligation to ensure that safeguards are
applied on all nuclear material in all nuclear activities within the
territories of the States Parties, under their jurisdiction or carried out
under their control anywhere;
- ABACC undertakes, in applying its safeguards, to cooperate with the
- the IAEA applies its safeguards in such a manner as to enable itself, in
ascertaining that there has been no diversion of nuclear material to
nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, to verify findings of
- the IAEA's verification activities include independent measurements and
- however, the IAEA, in its verification activities, takes due account of
the technical effectiveness of the SCCC;
- ABACC and the IAEA are to coordinate their activities in order to avoid
unnecessary duplication of safeguards efforts; and
- ABACC and the IAEA, as far as possible, are to work together, according
to compatible safeguards criteria issued by both agencies. However,
ABACC and the IAEA are required to draw independent conclusions.
Essentially the ABACC regime can be seen as a system of mutual
inspection, complementing IAEA safeguards:
- ABACC maintains a panel of persons available for inspections, who are
nominated by the Argentine and Brazilian national safeguards authorities
these may be national inspectors, or industry experts;
- joint inspections are carried out by the IAEA, the relevant national
authority, and ABACC inspectors, ie persons drawn from the ABACC panel
(Argentine personnel are chosen to inspect in Brazil, and vice versa).
5. PROPOSED REGIONAL ARRANGEMENTS
A number of further regional arrangements have been proposed, perhaps the
most advanced being the Central Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone. The
principles for this zone were set out in the Almaty Declaration made in
February 1997 by Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and
Uzbekistan. It is understood the drafting of the proposed treaty text is
substantially finalised, but has yet to be agreed.
Brazil and others have proposed a Southern Hemisphere Nuclear Weapon-Free
Zone, linking together the existing zones under the Tlatelolco, Raratonga,
Bangkok, Pelindaba and Antarctic Treaties, but the legal complexities raised
by the differing treaty provisions have not been resolved, and there is
opposition to the proposal on the basis that it would be inconsistent with the
freedom of the high seas.
Proposals have been advanced for nuclear weapon-free zones in South Asia
and the Middle East, but political circumstances do not favour progress in the
near future. In the case of the Middle East, such a zone is unlikely to
be agreed except in the context of an overall peace settlement which would
encompass other weapons of mass destruction and perhaps conventional weapons.
Another possible area for a regional arrangement is the Korean Peninsula,
where joint inspection procedures are called for under the 1992 Joint
Declaration on the Denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. To date
there has been no substantive discussion on developing these procedures.
6. WHAT LESSONS CAN BE DRAWN FROM THE EXISTING REGIONAL
IAEA safeguards are central to all of the nuclear weapon-free zone
treaties, in a sense IAEA safeguards complement these treaties rather than vice
versa. There are some important ways however where the advantages
flow in both directions. First, the Treaty of Tlatelolco should be given
special mention that Treaty predated the NPT, and although the
non-proliferation commitment was not as rigorous as under the NPT (because
development of PNEs was permitted), the Treaty fulfilled an important role in
introducing comprehensive safeguards to a region where not all Parties were
prepared to subscribe to the NPT.
In terms of complementing IAEA safeguards, a number of aspects are
- the treaties enhance mutual confidence in their respective regions, by
providing for additional non-proliferation commitments (eg no stationing
of nuclear weapons);
- they promote transparency by providing mechanisms for dissemination of
information, eg reports on national nuclear activities, and the results of
- they also enhance confidence by providing a mechanism for seeking
clarification of Parties activities;
- another important common provision is the commitment to support the
non-proliferation regime and IAEA safeguards this commitment is
particularly relevant to the current program to strengthen IAEA
safeguards, including through the conclusion of Additional Protocols.
Looking at the two existing regional safeguards systems, it is important to
appreciate that IAEA safeguards are recognised as having an independent role.
Although the activities of the regional systems are important to the
participants, the international community expects that the IAEA will reach
independent conclusions. The regional safeguards organisations and the
IAEA have developed cooperative working relationships to promote efficiency in
the operation of the respective safeguards systems.
The regional safeguards systems have also been important in complementing
the IAEA system. In the case of Euratom safeguards, their development
paralleled the development of the IAEA system, and no doubt the competitive
environment, though it eventually led to duplication and inefficiencies, on
many occasions provided a mutually beneficial stimulus. Now the New
Partnership Approach offers opportunities for significant efficiency gains
without detracting from the required level of assurance. It is unclear
however how certain aspects of strengthened safeguards will operate in Europe,
eg if IAEA inspectors are authorised to carry out a wider range of
verification activities than Euratom inspectors. Strengthened safeguards
also place a greater emphasis on unannounced inspections it is not
clear how these will operate in practice where there are two inspectorates
involved. As has been noted, ongoing changes in IAEA safeguards have
prompted a review of the Euratom system.
It will also be necessary to address some of these practical issues in the
case of ABACC, eg will ABACC have the same widened authority as the IAEA, and
how will unannounced inspections be performed when there are two or even
three (having regard to the respective national safeguards authorities)
More generally, ABACC has also played an essential confidence-building
role, enabling the introduction of comprehensive safeguards in Argentina and
Brazil ahead of the time when the conditions were right for both States to be
prepared to join the NPT. This confidence-building role will continue to
be important, providing a mechanism for mutual transparency in national
nuclear activities. ABACCs activities establish a valuable precedent
for other countries - particularly India and Pakistan - which are not yet
prepared to embrace the multilateral model of comprehensive safeguards.
7. CONCLUSIONS - SOME THOUGHTS FOR THE ASIA-PACIFIC REGION
Without attempting to define the Asia-Pacific region (for the purposes of
this discussion North and Latin America and South Asia have not been
included), the region has a number of key characteristics:
- current nuclear power programs in the region continue to grow, and a
number of countries are considering the introduction of nuclear power;
- the region includes some of the worlds largest, most advanced and
most vigorous nuclear programs, including sensitive stages of the fuel
cycle (enrichment and reprocessing);
- the region includes Nuclear-Weapon States (China and Russia), and one
State yet to come into compliance with its safeguards agreement.
As would be apparent from this brief outline, there are many issues and
challenges within the region in respect of which appropriate regional
mechanisms could make a very constructive contribution. There is a
mechanism for dialogue on nuclear issues generally - the Forum for Nuclear
Cooperation in Asia but as yet no mechanism for cooperation on
specifically non-proliferation/safeguards matters.
At various times a number of different concepts have been floated for an
Asian or Asian-Pacific regional nuclear arrangement, variously termed
Asiatom or Pacificatom. These concepts have ranged from a
simple framework for exchange of ideas and information, to the establishment
of an Asian Atomic Energy Community, along Euratom lines.
Euratom as a precedent In considering the extent to
which Euratom may offer a precedent, it should be noted there are substantial
differences between the conditions in Post-War Europe and those of the
contemporary Asia-Pacific region. The Asian and Pacific countries
represent a wide diversity of historical, political and economic backgrounds,
and a wide diversity in their degree of nuclear development. Security of
supply is not an issue as it was in the 1950s - there is a mature market for
uranium and fuel cycle services, and the rapid expansion of nuclear power
which has occurred in Asia is possible because of the availability of
well-proven technology, which is far from the situation when Euratom was
Most importantly, as we have seen, Euratom safeguards were developed in
parallel with the IAEA system - now, with four decades of experience with IAEA
safeguards, not only is there no point in "re‑inventing the
wheel", it is essential to avoid detracting from or competing with the
While there seems no justification for seeking to establish a multilateral
safeguards inspectorate for the Asia-Pacific region, it is clear that regional
arrangements have an important role in complementing IAEA safeguards.
This role could become even more worthwhile in current circumstances, where
substantial changes to IAEA safeguards are in progress and where further
growth in existing nuclear programs and the establishment of new programs are
If a regional safeguards system does eventuate in the Asia-Pacific region
(say, based on mutual inspection along ABACC lines), one aspect relevant in
the context of integrated safeguards - the combination of classical and
strengthened safeguards now under development is the concept of greater
use by the IAEA of national, but especially regional, safeguards authorities,
particularly in the implementation of safeguards on less-sensitive nuclear
Transparency One key aspect of the changes taking place
in safeguards is the increasing importance of transparency. Safeguards
are no longer seen as an exclusively technical system applied at declared
facilities. An essential part of safeguards is greater transparency in
States nuclear programs, not only vis--vis the IAEA, but also to other
States, particularly regional neighbours. Transparency is essential not
only to assist the IAEA in reaching its evaluations, but clearly is a vital
ingredient in the confidence which safeguards areintended to provide to the
international community as a whole. In this respect, closer regional
cooperation couldplay a significantcomplementary role to IAEA safeguards.
The form regional arrangements might take Although, as
mentioned, various ideas for a regional nuclear arrangement have been put
forward at different times, it is noteworthy that so far no consensus has
formed around any of these ideas. To some extent this may reflect the
disparate programs and interests in the region, and it must also reflect that
at this stage there is no generally held vision of the need for such an
arrangement and the functions it would serve. Rather than attempting to
introduce a broad-based institutional structure from the outset, it would seem
more productive to progress in an evolutionary way. Small steps can
build a nucleus around which broader concepts can coalesce over time.
One valuable step could be the idea discussed in the Japanese Study Group
on Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy and Non-Proliferation, for the
establishment of a regional Non-Proliferation Study CentreӔ. Such a
Centre could have an important consciousness-raising role, and it certainly
warrants serious attention.
Another useful step would be to establish arrangements for facilitating
collaboration amongst national safeguards authorities. Such regional
interaction could be valuable in providing mechanisms for exchanges of views,
by safeguards experts and others working in this area, which should be helpful
in securing support for new IAEA safeguards approaches and techniques, as well
as more generally in reinforcing the NPT and in helping to promote informed
policy-making on safeguards and non-proliferation matters.
The higher the level of technical competence of national safeguards
authorities (SSACs), the greater the benefit to the IAEA in terms of
cost-effective performance of its verification responsibilities.
Increased collaboration between national authorities in staff training,
professional development opportunities, expert seminars, staff exchanges, etc
would assist in this. Another possibility, promoting both professional
experience and transparency, could be the inclusion in national safeguards
activities of personnel from other regional States, again facilitated at the
regional level perhaps leading to a system of mutual inspection.
Another important benefit from regional interaction would be the
encouragement of a safeguards culture within the region. At
present there are some States with relatively limited exposure to practical
safeguards issues. This is the case with States which have had limited
nuclear activities and which are now contemplating nuclear power programs, but
it also a factor with those States not currently subject to comprehensive
A specific area where regional interaction could be useful is in
encouraging collaboration on, and coordination of, safeguards R&D
programs, particularly where these are undertaken in support of the IAEA.
Regional interaction may also have a useful role in assisting to maintain
standards of physical protection so as to minimise the risk of nuclear theft
How might regional interaction be progressed? While the
secretariat arrangements under the two nuclear weapon-free zone treaties in
our region (the Treaties of Rarotonga and Bangkok) could be of assistance in
promoting activities of the kind outlined here, several States with major
nuclear programs are outside the areas covered by these treaties.
Another possibility would be to build on the contacts which already take
place under various bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements, and informally
amongst national safeguards authorities. Initially such arrangements
might operate on an informal basis, eg through the establishment of an
association of nuclear safeguards authorities, with a part-time secretariat
coordinating joint activities.
Given the growing importance of nuclear issues in our region, from both the
peace and security and the energy perspective, it is clear regional
arrangements can make a valuable contribution non-proliferation objectives.
Despite a number of years of discussion, so far little tangible has emerged.
It is hoped that the ideas outlined in this paper will lead to practical steps
towards appropriate regional arrangements.