Promoting Safeguards-by-Design in Evolutionary and Innovative Reactor Technology Development

Ross Peel, Amelie Stoetzel, Sukesh Aghara

Research output: Contribution to conference typesPaper

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Evolutionary and Innovative reactor Designs (EID) are gaining increasing interest as energy generation options, including in nuclear newcomer states with small budgets and dispersed populations. Recent market predictions estimate that prototypes for some of the Generation IV designs developed worldwide could be deployed as early as 2025, with various Generation III+ technologies being deployed commercially by 2030. While safety considerations are almost universally claimed to be at the heart of EIDs, current approaches amongst technology developers commonly demonstrate a lack of consideration for nuclear power plant security or safeguardability. Neglecting the safeguards-by-design principle means that technology developers risk creating barriers to effective, non-demanding in-field safeguards measures, potentially creating antagonistic interactions with operational, safety and security functions and imposing excessive burden upon facility operators and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). If unaddressed, safeguards solutions will have to be expensively retrofitted at best. At worst, the IAEA will be restricted in its ability to conduct reliable inspections, likely preventing the design from operating in any IAEA Member State. The above issue was identified as a challenge in the IAEA’s report following the 2018 Symposium on International Safeguards. The paper will first show that many EIDs currently lack safeguards features. This is suggested to result from (1) a lack of communication between designers, the IAEA, and regulatory bodies, and (2) the lack of clear understanding amongst developers and potential operators of the potential monetary and ideological benefits of adopting safeguards-by-design approaches. Following from this, a series of potential technical and policy solutions are presented that support the prioritisation of safeguardability from the early stages of the design process. The paper aims to demonstrate that safeguards must be considered holistically alongside safety, security and operational factors from the start of the design process to avoid greater costs during late-stage design and increased operational expenditure throughout plant life.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2022
EventSymposium on International Safeguards 2022: Reflecting on the Past and Anticipating the Future - Vienna International Centre, Vienna, Austria
Duration: 31 Oct 20224 Nov 2022


ConferenceSymposium on International Safeguards 2022
Internet address


  • nuclear safeguards
  • Small modular reactors
  • nuclear energy
  • Non-proliferation


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