Additional Protocol (AP)
A protocol additional to a safeguards agreement (or agreements) concluded between the IAEA and a state, or group of states, following the provisions of the Model Additional Protocol (INFCIRC/540). The protocol was approved in May 1997, and grants the IAEA complementary inspection authority to that provided in underlying safeguards agreements. The principal aim is to enable the IAEA inspectorate to provide assurance about both declared and possible undeclared activities. Under the AP, the IAEA is granted expanded rights of access to information and sites, as well as additional authority to use the most advanced technologies during the verification process.

Agreed Framework

The Agreed Framework between the United States of America and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) was signed on 21 October 1994. The objective of the agreement was the freezing and replacement of the DPRK's indigenous nuclear power plant program with more proliferation resistant nuclear power plants, in addition to the step-by-step normalization of relations between the U.S. and the DPRK. Elements of the agreement were being implemented until 2003, however progress since has been stagnant.

Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA)
In September 1961, the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) was established as an independent agency of the United States government. Its mission was to produce, negotiate, and implement nonproliferation and nuclear disarmament initiatives. In 1997, the ACDA was integrated into the U.S. State Department.

A.Q. Khan Network
Abdul Qadeer Khan is a Pakistani nuclear physicist who founded the uranium enrichment program for Pakistan's nuclear weapons program. However, the self-proclaimed “father” of the Pakistani nuclear weapons program also ran a black market smuggling network of proliferation sensitive materials and equipment. In February 2004, following evidence provided to the Pakistani government by the United States, Khan formally admitted his responsibility for these activities.

Brazilian–Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials
Founded on 18 July 1991, the Brazilian–Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials (ABBAC) is a bi-national safeguards agency acting to verify the peaceful uses of nuclear materials.


Comprehensive (full scope) Safeguards Agreement (CSA)

An agreement made between the IAEA and a non-nuclear-weapon state to enable the application of safeguards on all fissionable material in peaceful nuclear activities, as required by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The agreement is comprehensive in that it provides for the IAEA’s right and obligation to ensure that safeguards are applied “on all source or special fissionable material in all peaceful nuclear activities within the territory of the State, under its jurisdiction, or carried out under its control anywhere” (INFCIRC/153).

Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT)
The CTBT, opened for signature on 24 September 1996, seeks to ban all nuclear explosions.  As of September 2016, 183 states have signed the Treaty and 164 have ratified it. Of the 44 nuclear capable states that must ratify the CTBT for it to enter into force, 36 have done so while 8 have yet to ratify.
The Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) has been operating from the Vienna International Centre since 1997. The main tasks of the CTBTO are to promote signatures and ratifications, and to establish a global verification regime capable of detecting nuclear explosions underground, underwater, and in the atmosphere.

Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS)
The Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS) was adopted in June 1994 and entered into force on 24 October 1996. The Convention was the result of multilevel negotiations between member states, national nuclear safety authorities, and the IAEA. It aims "to achieve and maintain a high level of nuclear safety worldwide through the enhancement of national measures and international co-operation."

Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM)
Opened for signature on 3 March 1980, the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) obliges parties to ensure that civil nuclear materials in transit are protected according to agreed standards, and provides a framework for international cooperation on the protection, recovery, and return of stolen nuclear material. The CPPNM entered into force on 8 February 1987. A 2005 amendment extended the scope of the CPPNM to cover the physical protection of nuclear material in storage and nuclear facilities used for peaceful purposes. The amendment entered into force in May 2016.


The process of producing uranium with an increased concentration of the isotope U-235. Natural uranium contains only 0.7% U-235, whereas nuclear fuel requires uranium enriched to 3-5%, and nuclear weapons typically require enrichment to 90%.

Environmental Sampling
In nuclear safeguards, the collection of samples from the environment with a view to analyzing them for traces of materials that can reveal information about nuclear material handled or activities conducted.

European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom)
Euratom was established in 1957 to coordinate its member states’ research programs, and application of nuclear safeguards, for the peaceful use of nuclear energy.


Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
Established on 16 October 1945, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations leads international efforts to tackle issues in world food supply. On 1 October 1964, the FAO and IAEA created the Joint FAO/IAEA Division. The mission of the joint division is to support and promote the safe and appropriate use of nuclear technologies in food and agriculture.


Group of 77 (G77)
Founded on 15 June 1964, the Group of 77 (G77) is a coalition of developing nations with the goal of enhancing joint negotiating capacity at the United Nations. The Vienna Chapter of the G77 represents the group at the IAEA.


Hexapartite Safeguards Project (HSP)
The Hexapartite Safeguards Project was created in November 1980 as an international forum consisting of nuclear technology holders with the mission of applying safeguards to nuclear facilities without compromising the sensitive information related to such technology. The participants were Australia, Japan, the former Federal Republic of Germany, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, United States, Euratom, and the IAEA.

High-Enriched Uranium (HEU)

Uranium containing 20% or more of the isotope U-235. HEU is considered a special fissionable material and proliferation sensitive.


International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Founded in 1957, the IAEA’s mandate focuses on the promotion of the safe and secure uses of nuclear energy, technical assistance and the development of nuclear applications, and the verification that nuclear materials and technology stay in peaceful use.

IAEA Board of Governors
The Board of Governors is one of the two policy-making bodies of the IAEA, along with the annual General Conference of the IAEA. The Board convenes five times a year and makes recommendations to the General Conference on activities, budget, and IAEA leadership.

IAEA Director General
As per the IAEA Statute, the Director General is appointed by the Board of Governors, with the approval of the General Conference, for a term of four years. The Director General acts as the Head of the IAEA. The current Director General of the IAEA is Yukiya Amano of Japan.

IAEA General Conference
The General Conference is the highest policy-making body of the IAEA. It is composed of representatives of all member states of the Agency. The General Conference meets annually to consider and approve the Agency's program and budget, and to decide on other matters brought before it by the Board of Governors, the Director General, and Member States.

IAEA Nuclear Security Fund
The IAEA Nuclear Security Fund was established in March 2002 to support, among other things, the implementation of nuclear security activities to prevent, detect, and respond to nuclear terrorism.

IAEA Secretariat
The IAEA Secretariat is made up of around 2,560 professional and support staff from more than 100 countries. They come from scientific, technical, managerial, and professional disciplines.

The Texts of the Agency’s Agreements with the United Nations.
INFCIRC/11 formalizes the relationship between the IAEA and the United Nations. The document details shared resources between the two organizations, reciprocal representation, and reporting requirements.


The Agency’s Safeguards.
INFCIRC/26 sets out the Agency’s first Safeguards System, as detailed to the Board of Governors on 31 January 1961. The document outlines the principles and applications of IAEA Safeguards.


The Agency’s Safeguards System.
INFCIRC/66 details the revised Safeguards System, including giving a background to how the system evolved during the 1960s. The document builds on INFCIRC/26 by providing a greater scope, including inspections, for safeguards to be applied.

The Structure and Content of Agreements Between the Agency and States Required in Connection with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
INFCIRC/153, pursuant to the requirement of the IAEA under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, details the structure and content of Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements (CSAs). IAEA inspections under the NPT are hence called “153 inspections” in the Agency’s jargon.

The Revised Guiding Principles and General Operating Rules to Govern the Provision of Technical Assistance By the Agency.
sets forth the requirements for the provision of technical assistance by the IAEA to its member states. It notes that the primary objective of technical assistance is to “accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health, and prosperity.”


Model Protocol Additional to the Agreement(s) Between State(s) and the International Atomic Energy Agency for the Application of Safeguards.
Born out of the failure of the IAEA to detect the clandestine nuclear program in Iraq until 1991, INFCIRC/540 looks to strengthen the effectiveness and improve the efficiency of the IAEA Safeguards System. Notably, it provides the IAEA the right to request access to facilities where the IAEA may suspect a state is storing undeclared nuclear material.  



Low-Enriched Uranium (LEU)
Enriched uranium containing less than 20% of the isotope U-235, but greater than natural uranium. LEU is considered a fissionable material, but not proliferation sensitive unless enriched to HEU levels.


Non-Aligned Movement (NAM)
The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is a group of states that are not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc. NAM identifies the right of independent judgment, the struggle against imperialism and neo-colonialism, and the use of moderation in relations with all big powers.

Nuclear Fission
A nuclear reaction in which the nucleus of an atom splits into smaller parts. The fission process produces a large amount of energy released at a controlled rate for nuclear energy, or at a very rapid uncontrolled rate in a nuclear weapon.

Nuclear Fuel
A material that can be used, via the process of nuclear fission or fusion, to derive nuclear energy.

Nuclear Fuel Cycle
The nuclear fuel cycle is the progression of nuclear fuel through a series of differing stages. It consists of the preparation of the fuel, the use of fuel during reactor operation, and either reprocessing or disposing of spent nuclear fuel. If spent fuel is not reprocessed, the fuel cycle is referred to as an open fuel cycle. If the spent fuel is reprocessed, it is referred to as a closed fuel cycle.

Nuclear Fusion
Nuclear fusion is a nuclear reaction in which atomic nuclei come close enough to react and form one or more different atomic nuclei. This process creates a huge amount of energy, and forms the basis of thermonuclear weapons. The harnessing of the energy created by nuclear fusion for use in the production of nuclear energy continues to be researched today. 

Nuclear Material Accounting
Activities carried out to establish the quantities of nuclear material present within defined areas, and the changes in those quantities within defined periods.

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
Signed in 1968, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is the most widely adhered-to international security agreement. The “three pillars” of the NPT are nuclear disarmament, nonproliferation, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The NPT also stipulates that non-nuclear-weapons states will not seek to acquire nuclear weapons and will accept IAEA safeguards on their nuclear activities. The NPT was extended indefinitely in 1995.

Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zone (NWFZ)
A nuclear-weapons-free zone (NWFZ) is an agreement in which a group of states has freely established a given area where the use, development, and deployment of nuclear weapons are prohibited.


Peaceful Nuclear Explosions (PNEs)
Peaceful nuclear explosions (PNEs) are defined as being conducted for non-military purposes, such as nuclear explosions for mining and the development of infrastructure. While a number of PNEs were carried out during the Cold War, the 1996 Comprehensive Test-Ban-Treaty outlawed their use.

Plutonium is produced when uranium is irradiated in a nuclear reactor. It is used as a recyclable in a closed nuclear fuel cycle where it can be reprocessed into nuclear fuel. However, it can also be used to make nuclear weapons.

Program 93+2
The IAEA's Program 93+2 was initiated in 1993 as a result of the confirmation that Iraq had been clandestinely pursuing a nuclear weapons program by utilising undeclared facilities not covered by existing safeguards. The name "93+2" refers to the initial goal of completing a plan of action in two years, in time for the 1995 NPT Review Conference. By adopting new monitoring techniques (such as environmental sampling and use of no-notice inspections) that did not require any new legal authority for their implementation, Program 93+2 looked to close the loophole in safeguards for undeclared facilities.

Proliferation & Nonproliferation
Nuclear proliferation refers to the spread of nuclear weapons, fissionable material, and weapons-applicable nuclear technology to nations not recognized as "Nuclear Weapon States" by the NPT. Nonproliferation represents the international system of treaties, international and government agencies, and civil society involved in preventing nuclear proliferation.



Random Inspection
An IAEA Safeguards inspection performed at a on a date chosen randomly.

Remote Monitoring
A technique whereby safeguards data is collected by unattended surveillance monitoring and measurement systems, and then transmitted off-site via communication networks for review and evaluation.

The process of separating the remaining usable plutonium and uranium from spent nuclear fuel to produce new, usable, nuclear fuel or for use in nuclear weapons.


A system of accounting, surveillance, and inspections aimed at verifying the peaceful use of nuclear materials and related equipment.

Safeguards Agreement
An agreement for the application of safeguards concluded between the IAEA and a state, a group of states, or a regional inspectorate.

Safeguards Criteria
The set of nuclear material verification activities considered by the IAEA as necessary for fulfilling its responsibilities under a safeguards agreement. The Criteria are established for each facility type, and specifies the scope, frequency, and extent of the verification activities required.

Significant Quantity (SQ)
A Significant Quantity represents the approximate amount of nuclear material for which the possibility to manufacture a nuclear explosive device cannot be excluded. Significant Quantities are used in establishing the quantitative element in safeguards inspections.

Standing Advisory Group on Safeguards Implementation (SAGSI)
The Standing Advisory Group on Safeguards Implementation (SAGSI) is an advisory group, established in 1975, to advise the IAEA Director General on the technical aspects of safeguards. SAGSI is composed of up to 20 members, each of whom is appointed by the Director General.

Statute of the IAEA
The Statute of the IAEA was approved in October 1956 by the United Nations Conference on the Statute of the IAEA, and entered into force in July 1957. The statute centres around three pillars of work: nuclear safeguards and verification, nuclear safety and security, and nuclear science and technology for development.


United Nations Security Council (UNSC)
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations. Comprised of fifteen members in total, there are five permanent members (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, and the United States). Though independent of the United Nations, the IAEA reports to the UNSC as well as the United Nations General Assembly. In cases of safeguards non-compliance, the IAEA Board of Governors may refer the offending party to the UNSC.

United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)

Formed in 1966 and converted into a UN specialized agency in 1985, UNIDO works to promote and accelerate the uses of industrial development in developing countries. Headquartered at the VIC since 1967, UNIDO employs around 700 staff members at Headquarters and its field offices and draws on the services of around 2,500 international and national experts. The current UNIDO Director General is Li Yong of China.


The URENCO Group is a nuclear fuel company operating uranium enrichment plants in Germany, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, and the United States. It supplies nuclear fuel to nuclear power stations in around fifteen countries.


Voluntary Offer Agreement (VOA)
A safeguards agreement concluded between the IAEA and a nuclear weapon state, which, as defined by the NPT, are not required to apply safeguards but has voluntarily offered to do so. The IAEA has concluded a VOA with all five nuclear weapon States as defined by the NPT.

Vienna International Centre (VIC)
Opened in 1979, the VIC has been the home to the UN system international organizations based in Vienna. Currently, it is home to the IAEA, the CTBTO, UNIDO, the UN Commission on International Trade Law, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs, and the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River.



World Health Organization (WHO)
Established in 1948, the World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that is concerned with international public health. In 1959, the WHO and the IAEA signed an agreement to co-operate and provide consultation on the use of nuclear technologies for human health purposes.

CTBTO (website)
G77 Vienna Chapter (website)
IAEA (website)
International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (website)
Nuclear Threat Initiative Nuclear Materials Security Index, Building a Framework for Assurance, Accountability, and Action, January 2012
P5 Glossary of key nuclear terms, First edition, April 2015
UNIDO (website)
United Nations Office in Vienna (website)