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Title: IAEA Design Information Verification Authorities for Small Modular Reactors: Potential Challenges and Solutions

Abstract

A key benefit of many small modular reactor (SMR) designs is the ability to construct major reactor components in a factory setting for subsequent onsite assembly. However, this approach could pose challenges for International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) design information verification (DIV) activities. The IAEA conducts DIV at reactor construction sites in order to verify that components match the declared facility designs before they are fully integrated and become inaccessible to inspectors. It is through DIV that the IAEA can design a safeguards approach that effectively addresses potential diversion and misuse scenarios and confirm its continued adequacy over time. Under Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements, the IAEA’s authority to conduct DIV adheres at “facilities,” defined by either the presence of nuclear material in certain quantities or by certain functional aspects irrespective of the presence of nuclear material. Power reactors have traditionally been constructed and operated in the same location, where DIV could be conducted throughout. For some SMR designs in development, however, certain reactor components may be fully installed at a factory rather than the ultimate construction/operation site, raising the prospect that some SMRs may be manufactured, fueled, and/or operated in different locations, or even different countries (with different safeguards agreements andmore » obligations). As a result, locations other than an SMR’s final site of operation may become potentially significant for DIV, while it is as-yet unclear whether or how the IAEA’s authority to conduct DIV extends to such locations, particularly in international supply scenarios. These developments may require the IAEA to adapt the way that it interprets its legal authorities and conducts technical verification measures. Two issues are particularly important: 1. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) obligates only non-nuclear weapon states under its framework to accept IAEA safeguards, which include access for IAEA design verification. This raises important questions about whether and how the IAEA might conduct DIV activities for reactors being supplied by a nuclear weapon state to a non-nuclear weapon state. 2. Certain IAEA verification authorities pertain to locations that handle nuclear materials. For SMR fabrication sites where no nuclear materials will be present, inspectors may have to invoke a different basis for access than IAEA has used in the past, or possibly contend with more limited access rights and a less robust toolkit to verify reactor designs. This paper reviews different safeguards agreements (including INFCIRC/153 and the Model Additional Protocol) and discusses IAEA legal authorities that may be relevant to DIV for small modular reactors. By considering different modes of SMR construction, it identifies potential legal gaps or limitations that may affect the IAEA’s ability to conduct rigorous design verification. It concludes by commenting on the general steps to address any such gaps, including legal and policy measures and directions for future technical work.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1];  [1];  [1];  [1];  [2]
  1. BATTELLE (PACIFIC NW LAB)
  2. Idaho National Laboratory
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1606200
Report Number(s):
PNNL-SA-143682
DOE Contract Number:  
AC05-76RL01830
Resource Type:
Conference
Resource Relation:
Conference: International Nuclear Fuel Cycle Conference and TOP FUEL 2019 - Light Water Reactor Fuel Performance Conference (Global 2019), September 22-27, 2019, Seattle, WA
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
Design Information Verification, IAEA Safeguards, Small Modular Reactors (SMRs)

Citation Formats

Donnelly, David A., Otto, Robert T., Mathews, Caroline E., Wilson, Benjamin A., and Schanfein, Mark. IAEA Design Information Verification Authorities for Small Modular Reactors: Potential Challenges and Solutions. United States: N. p., 2020. Web.
Donnelly, David A., Otto, Robert T., Mathews, Caroline E., Wilson, Benjamin A., & Schanfein, Mark. IAEA Design Information Verification Authorities for Small Modular Reactors: Potential Challenges and Solutions. United States.
Donnelly, David A., Otto, Robert T., Mathews, Caroline E., Wilson, Benjamin A., and Schanfein, Mark. Fri . "IAEA Design Information Verification Authorities for Small Modular Reactors: Potential Challenges and Solutions". United States.
@article{osti_1606200,
title = {IAEA Design Information Verification Authorities for Small Modular Reactors: Potential Challenges and Solutions},
author = {Donnelly, David A. and Otto, Robert T. and Mathews, Caroline E. and Wilson, Benjamin A. and Schanfein, Mark},
abstractNote = {A key benefit of many small modular reactor (SMR) designs is the ability to construct major reactor components in a factory setting for subsequent onsite assembly. However, this approach could pose challenges for International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) design information verification (DIV) activities. The IAEA conducts DIV at reactor construction sites in order to verify that components match the declared facility designs before they are fully integrated and become inaccessible to inspectors. It is through DIV that the IAEA can design a safeguards approach that effectively addresses potential diversion and misuse scenarios and confirm its continued adequacy over time. Under Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements, the IAEA’s authority to conduct DIV adheres at “facilities,” defined by either the presence of nuclear material in certain quantities or by certain functional aspects irrespective of the presence of nuclear material. Power reactors have traditionally been constructed and operated in the same location, where DIV could be conducted throughout. For some SMR designs in development, however, certain reactor components may be fully installed at a factory rather than the ultimate construction/operation site, raising the prospect that some SMRs may be manufactured, fueled, and/or operated in different locations, or even different countries (with different safeguards agreements and obligations). As a result, locations other than an SMR’s final site of operation may become potentially significant for DIV, while it is as-yet unclear whether or how the IAEA’s authority to conduct DIV extends to such locations, particularly in international supply scenarios. These developments may require the IAEA to adapt the way that it interprets its legal authorities and conducts technical verification measures. Two issues are particularly important: 1. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) obligates only non-nuclear weapon states under its framework to accept IAEA safeguards, which include access for IAEA design verification. This raises important questions about whether and how the IAEA might conduct DIV activities for reactors being supplied by a nuclear weapon state to a non-nuclear weapon state. 2. Certain IAEA verification authorities pertain to locations that handle nuclear materials. For SMR fabrication sites where no nuclear materials will be present, inspectors may have to invoke a different basis for access than IAEA has used in the past, or possibly contend with more limited access rights and a less robust toolkit to verify reactor designs. This paper reviews different safeguards agreements (including INFCIRC/153 and the Model Additional Protocol) and discusses IAEA legal authorities that may be relevant to DIV for small modular reactors. By considering different modes of SMR construction, it identifies potential legal gaps or limitations that may affect the IAEA’s ability to conduct rigorous design verification. It concludes by commenting on the general steps to address any such gaps, including legal and policy measures and directions for future technical work.},
doi = {},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2020},
month = {1}
}

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