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IAEA Safeguards

IAEA safeguards are a control tool to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons at the State level. By signing safeguards agreements with the IAEA, States commit to providing the Agency with declarations on nuclear material and the facilities holding it. Through a series of independent verifications, the Agency ensures that these declarations are correct and complete in relation to the commitments made by the State.

Safeguards are a set of technical controls applied by the IAEA on nuclear material and activities, through which the Agency seeks to independently, verify that nuclear facilities and material are not diverted from peaceful uses.

       For more information on the IAEA website

Published on 29 March 2024

​Safeguards agreements

In a non-nuclear-weapon State, all nuclear facilities and materials are used exclusively for peaceful purposes. Their commitment under the NPT and their safeguards agreement is to place all their nuclear material under IAEA safeguards.

In France, the IAEA applies safeguards with the objective of verifying that nuclear materials subject to its control are not removed from civilian activities. As a nuclear weapon state (NWS) within the meaning of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), France has made a voluntary offer to submit certain nuclear materials to IAEA safeguards, within the framework of a trilateral agreement between France, Euratom and the IAEA (INFCIRC 290), which entered into force on 12 September 1981.

The European Community is a party to this agreement. IAEA verification in France relies partly on the verification carried out by the European Commission, which, among other things, forwards to the IAEA all the accountancy lines of the installations declared by France as being subject to IAEA safeguards. Based on this information and the results of verifications carried out jointly with Euratom, the Agency draws independent conclusions.

Subsequently, France has demonstrated its continued support for strengthening the Agency's safeguards system by adhering on a voluntary basis to other IAEA initiatives to strengthen safegurads:

INFCIRC/207/Add.1 (1984) on imports and exports of nuclear materials;

INFCIRC/415 (1993) on production and imports and exports of mining concentrates;

INFCIRC/549 (1997), a transparency exercise to declare annually the stocks of civilian plutonium held in France (as well as those of highly enriched uranium).

Additional Protocol

The Additional Protocol is not a stand-alone agreement, but rather a protocol to a safeguards agreement that provides additional tools for verification. In particular, it significantly increases the IAEA's ability to detect undeclared nuclear activities in States with comprehensive safeguards agreements.

 A model Additional Protocol (INFCIRC/540) has been developed as a standard whose measures are to be applied to non-nuclear-weapon States (NNWS) that have concluded a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the IAEA. For other states (NWS or non-NPT), the objective is to encourage them to implement all measures that can contribute to the objectives of non-proliferation and safeguards effectiveness. Under the Additional Protocol, the IAEA has a greater right of access to information, nuclear sites and activities contributing to the nuclear programme in these States. Thus, the Additional Protocol aims to fill the gaps identified during proliferation crises, particularly in the detection of clandestine activities. By enabling the IAEA to have a much more complete picture of nuclear programmes and projects, as well as activities contributing to these programmes, in non-nuclear-weapon States, the Additional Protocol strengthens the IAEA's ability to provide much greater assurance of the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in these States.

France has accepted and implemented certain measures of the model additional protocol. Consistent with its commitment under the NPT not to transfer nuclear weapons, the objective has been to provide all necessary information to the IAEA concerning France's fuel cycle activities with NNWS.

France thus signed an Additional Protocol to its safeguards agreement on 22 September 1998, which entered into force at the same time as those of the other European Union member states, on 30 April 2004 (INFCIRC/290/Add.1). France has therefore undertaken to declare annually to the Agency, among other things, the cooperation it conducts with these States, and to allow the Agency, as necessary, to verify the reality of this cooperation in the nuclear facilities concerned. It also declares quarterly its exports to NNWS of equipment or non-nuclear materials listed in the annexes to the Additional Protocol. The IAEA may also conduct "complementary accesses" to verify declarations or to detect clandestine activity by a NNWS. These verification activities are conducted with 24 hours advance notice and can be requested anywhere on the French territory for clarification of any relevant question.

These provisions are framed by Law No. 2016-113 of February 5, 2016 implementing the Additional Protocol, the implementing decree No. 2018-885 of October 12, 2018 and finally the order of March 13, 2020 setting out the content and terms of the required declarations and information.

Tlatelolco Treaty and Small Quantities Protocol​

The Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean, signed in Tlatelolco, Mexico, on February 14, 1967 (the "Treaty of Tlatelolco"), is a regional treaty establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone (NWFZ) that prohibits the testing, use, manufacture, production, acquisition or stationing of any nuclear weapon in the defined zone.

France is party to the two protocols to this treaty which oblige States which are not part of the region, but which exercise sovereign rights over territories located within the geographical area covered by the treaty, to apply the provisions of the treaty in those territories.

Thus, under Protocol I, ratified on 24 August 1992, France undertook to apply the provisions of the Treaty of Tlatelolco in the following territories: French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Clipperton Island, Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthelemy. In application of this protocol, it has concluded with the IAEA and Euratom a tripartite agreement for the application of safeguards (INFCIRC/718) based on the model of the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement (CSA) for NNWS.  In view of the quantities of material present in the area, this agreement includes a "Small Quantities Protocol" (SQP) that suspends many of the provisions of INFCIRC/718. This agreement was signed in Vienna on 21 March 2000 and entered into force in October 2007.

Designed in 1971 by the IAEA, the first model SQP was aimed at suspending the application of most of the provisions of the CSA in order to reduce the constraints of IAEA safeguards verifications in countries holding only small quantities of material, as long as the quantities of nuclear material in the state (or, in this case, in the French territories concerned) did not exceed certain limits. However, in 2005, in order for the IAEA to have the necessary elements for verifying eligibility for the criteria for the application of an MQPP (and for monitoring the maintenance of these criteria over time), the IAEA Board of Governors decided to modify the model text for MQPPs as well as the criteria for entering into one.

In order to comply with this decision, France has decided to adopt the new model SQP. The agreement amending Protocols I and II to the Agreement between France, Euratom and the IAEA on the application of safeguards under the Treaty of Tlatelolco was thus signed in Vienna on September 13, 2017, and replaces the existing SQP with the revised model. This agreement was ratified by the President of the French Republic on September 10, 2018 and then published by Decree No. 2018-885 of October 12, 2018.

This agreement, which reinstates the application of certain provisions of the French CSA (INFCIRC/718), such as the review of information on existing or planned nuclear facilities, the initial declaration on nuclear materials, and IAEA inspections at declared facilities, entered into force on February 25, 2019.

Since 2019, France sends an annual declaration to the IAEA via Euratom. The establishments concerned by this declaration may at any time be inspected by the IAEA under the amended SQP according to the same modalities as a non-endowed State with an CSA in force.

Application of IAEA Safeguards in France

In 2022, 17 installations are eligible for routine IAEA inspections, i.e. 37 material balance areas (MBAs).

Three installations or parts of installations are selected by the IAEA (the reprocessing plants at La Hague, the centrifuge enrichment plants at Georges Besse, and Melox) and are effectively inspected by the IAEA.

17 inspections were carried out by the IAEA in France in 2022, representing 76 person-days of inspections. In addition, France prepare many declarations and submit them to the IAEA for its facilities subject to safeguards agreements at all stages of the nuclear fuel cycle.

Information provided by France to the IAEA dor 

all stages ot the nuclear cycle

Fuel cycle stage



Figures for 2022

Mines, mining concentrates and raw materials


INFCIRC 290/Add.1 (Additional Protocol)

Mine production and import/export of raw materials

12 monthly reports

half-yearly reports

​annual declaration

Cycle facilities and reactors

INFCIRC/290 (Safeguards agreement)

Accountancy declarations for nuclear material subject to IAEA safeguards

14 monthly and half-yearly rstatements

INFCIRC/718 (Caribbean Safeguards Agreement)

Acountancy declarations for nuclear material subject to IAEA safeguards

1 annual declaration

INFCIRC/207/Add.1 (Additional Protocol)

Prior notification of imports/exports of nuclear materials

120 import/export notifications

France 1987 commitment– Matchings

Resolutions of questions on internationals transfers

4 analysis reports on transfers


Civilian Pu and HEU stocks in France

1 annual declaration

R&D on nuclear fuel cycle

INFCIRC/290 /Add.1 (Additional Protocol)

R&D  programs carried out in cooperation with NNWS

1 annual declaration

10-year plan for the nuclear fuel cycle

INFCIRC/290 /Add.1 (Additional Protocol)

R&D projects envisaged in cooperation with NNWS for the next 10 years

1 annual declaration

Sensitive equipment

INFCIRC/290/Add.1 (Additional Protocol)

Exports of sensitive equipment and non-nuclear material to NNWS - Manufacturing of sensitive equipment in cooperation with NNWS

quaterly declarations

1 annual declaration

Nuclear materials contained in the waste

INFCIRC/290/Add.1 (Additional Protocol

Exports of waste containing Pu or U to NNWS

1 annual declaration

To learn more and understand the reporting procedures, the technical support of the CTE, IRSN/DEND/SNPC provides guides for operators.



See also

·         The website of the International Atomic Energy Agency

·         The website of the Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations Office and International Organizations in Vienna