Nuclear safeguards have been an essential part of the global order since the beginnings of the nuclear age. The International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA], an international bureaucracy that is supposed to be a non-political, technical institution administers this global nuclear safeguards regime. Even though safeguards have always been controversial, they have turned out to be the most enduring item in the international community’s toolbox to prevent or slow down the spread of nuclear weapons to non-nuclear states.
This analysis shows that nuclear safeguards, whilst they survived the fall of the Iron Curtain, were a genuine invention of the Cold War. At the beginning of the nuclear age, there was an overall understanding that safeguards were not strong enough to prevent the global spread of nuclear weapons. It was only over the course of the late 1950s and 1960s that safeguards moved from the margins to the centre of diplomatic negotiations about global nuclear order. Newly declassified records from the IAEA Archives in Vienna offer insights into the evolution of early nuclear safeguards and suggest that negotiation patterns, proceedings, and settings affected the outcome of this nuclear diplomacy.
Source: Journal Diplomacy & Statecraft, Volume 29, 2018 - Issue 1