The U.S. Support Program to IAEA Safeguards
The U.S. Support Program to IAEA Safeguards provides extra budgetary assistance for research and development projects to resolve technical safeguards questions. The USSP thereby assists the IAEA in its mission to verify that nuclear material placed under IAEA safeguards is not diverted for non-peaceful purposes.
The U.S. Support Program is primarily funded through the U.S. Program of Technical Assistance to IAEA Safeguards (POTAS), but additional funding is provided by the State Department's Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Fund, the Department of Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the Department of Defense.
POTAS originated in 1977 with a bill passed by Congress authorizing $5 million over a 5-year period to fund research and development on behalf of IAEA Safeguards. Funding, which is provided through the Foreign Assistance Act, thereafter rose to $14.8 million per year in 2010.
The USSP is managed by the International Safeguards Project Office (ISPO). Policy oversight is provided in Washington by the Subgroup on Safeguards Technical Support (SSTS), an interagency committee which decides which tasks requested by the IAEA will be approved. The SSTS is composed of representatives of the four organizations mentioned above.
"Tasks" sponsored by the USSP provide equipment, training, software, and human resources support to Agency staff. In addition, the USSP sponsors a small number of administrative tasks, involving subjects such as technical writing and quality assurance. Cost-free experts (CFEs), extra-budgetary positions where the salary and benefits are reimbursed by POTAS, work for the IAEA on specific projects for two or more years. Junior Professional Officers are given entry level positions to perform basic, yet essential, work and gain valuable professional experience. The USSP also sponsors a number of shorter-term consultants. Research and development tasks are carried out by the national laboratories and the private sector. Typically, about 100 tasks are active at any given time.
The USSP responds to official requests for assistance from the IAEA's Director of the Division of Safeguards Concepts and Planning (SGCP). The IAEA’s Support Program Coordination Team, in the SGCP Section for Strategic Planning and External Coordination, coordinates task requests. Jill Cooley is the director of SGCP and is the head of the Support Program Administration. Neil Tuley is the Section Head for Strategic Planning and External Coordination; and Vera Firbasova is the Team Leader for Support Program Coordination.
In recent years, the USSP sponsored many tasks designed to assist the Agency in developing programs in environmental monitoring, remote monitoring, and information technology. As a result, the IAEA was able to quickly implement its environmental monitoring program and is proceeding with evaluations and field tests of remote monitoring and information systems. The USSP has traditionally provided significant support in enhancing the non-destructive analysis (NDA) and containment/surveillance capabilities of the IAEA.
Contractors from the U.S. private and public sectors work with IAEA task officers to complete the tasks. ISPO is constantly searching for new contractors able and interested in working on USSP projects.
Last Modified: April 3, 2013