Historically there has been limited international regulation at the front end of the nuclear fuel cycle, specifically the production, processing, and conversion of uranium ore concentrates (UOC). This has been changing as technological advances in the uranium industry, coupled with persistent proliferation threats, have increased concerns over the introduction of undeclared uranium (or other source materials) into the nuclear fuel cycle through conversion, fuel fabrication, or enrichment plants. The Nuclear Safeguards program focuses on the evolving international safeguards system and engages with industry, regulators, and international organizations to understand how recent clarifications are impacting reporting and accountancy controls related to the production and trade of natural uranium.
The program strengthens nuclear materials security by focusing on the materials that have historically fallen outside of international control, namely source materials such as natural uranium by: 1) cataloging risks and proliferation pathways associated with the unauthorized removal of source materials, and 2) identifying best practices in implementing nuclear safeguards, particularly related to source materials at the stages of conversion and milling.
From in-depth analysis of historical archives to contemporary case studies, the program seeks to provide research-based results for both long-time uranium suppliers and newcomers as they develop nationally-appropriate regulatory systems and continue to update their governance approaches to ensure compliance with global non-proliferation commitments. The project studies the challenges and benefits of front-end safeguards and their relation to the potential proliferation risk. It will identify best practices and makes recommendations to address policy gaps and strengthen effective implementation.
The program provides expert analysis on the history of the ‘starting point’ of international nuclear safeguards, the experiences of states in responding to and implementing recent clarifications as well as the proliferation pathways that exist for acquiring source materials. The interactive Governing Uranium website, developed by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS) http://uranium.csis.org/ will continue to be updated and serve as a useful resource for states, industry, and civil society on the international obligations that accompany global uranium production and trade. The program will also conduct public and closed seminars and meetings with regulators and industry representatives.
The program is pleased to work with international partners such as the Centre of International Security Studies (CISS) at the University of Sydney, Australia, the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP) in Vienna, Austria, and the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, South Africa.