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CERN publishes its first Nuclear Safeguards Policy

CERN has recently published a Nuclear Safeguards Policy. This Policy formalises CERN’s longstanding commitment to non-proliferation. It serves both for external communication purposes and as a basis for nuclear safeguards procedures within the Organization.

Nuclear safeguards cover the prevention or timely detection of diversion of nuclear material from peaceful nuclear activities to the manufacture of nuclear weapons. Safeguards are achieved by means of nuclear security (i.e. physical protection and nuclear material accounting and control).

Safeguards are implemented by states that are parties to the non-proliferation treaties of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). CERN, which manages some nuclear materials used for its scientific activities (such as thorium, uranium and plutonium), is not directly subject to these treaties. However, the Organization collaborates closely with the competent Host States authorities to help them fulfil their obligations towards the IAEA. CERN manages its nuclear materials responsibly, thanks to its nuclear materials controller, its accountants and custodians. The Nuclear Safeguards Policy is a first step in formalising these good practices.

The main principles of this Policy, and in particular the requirement to justify and minimise the use of any nuclear materials, will be implemented through a set of nuclear safeguards procedures currently being drafted. These will be published on the HSE website in due course.