Stephan Vogt (Austria): Environmental Sampling for Safeguards – To see the world in a grain of sand

Donnerstag, 25. Januar 2018 16:30

Ort: Victor-Franz-Hess-Hörsaal, Währinger Str. 17, 1. Stock Kavalierstrakt

The International Atomic Energy Agency, frequently referred to as the “nuclear watchdog”, is the
world’s centre for cooperation in the nuclear field and seeks to promote the safe, secure and peaceful
use of nuclear technology. Through a set of technical measures, or Safeguards, the IAEA verifies that
States are honouring their international legal obligations to use nuclear material and technology only
for peaceful purposes. Its independent verification work allows the IAEA to play an indispensable
role in preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.
In the aftermath of the first Iraq war in 1991, the IAEA searched for nuclear signatures providing
evidence that the country was involved in clandestine nuclear activities. As a result of these findings
and a broad research program applied in several countries (“93+2 program”) the IAEA with the
assistance of member states developed and implemented the framework for an Additional Protocol
(AP) to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). One additional verification instrument that was
added to the IAEA’s “toolbox” is the Environmental Sampling for Safeguards (ESS). This allows the
IAEA to check not only for the correctness of a country’s declarations (via the NPT), but also for its
completeness (via the AP). In legal terms, ESS has the function to verify the absence of undeclared
materials and processes; in practice, this is executed by specifically looking for signatures indicating
undeclared nuclear materials and/or activities.
The Environmental Sample Laboratory (ESL) supports ESS by providing logistical (production,
receipt, and archiving of ES kits and samples) and analytical support (screening and detailed analysis
of ES). Detailed characterization performed at the ESL uses bulk analytical techniques such as
Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICPMS), Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometry
(TIMS), Isotope Dilution Mass Spectrometry (IDMS), as well as particle analytical techniques such
as Large Geometry Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (LG-SIMS), and Scanning Electron
Microscopy (SEM).
The presentation will provide an overview of the Safeguards related work with a focus on the
analytical work of the Office of Safeguards Analytical Services’ Environmental Sample Laboratory.


Victor-Franz-Hess-Hörsaal, Währinger Str. 17, 1. Stock Kavalierstrakt