The Additional Protocol (AP) to the nuclear safeguards agreement has entered into force in the USA.

The USA signed the Additional Protocol in June 1998, and president George Bush approved it at the end of December 2008. Ratification was completed on 6 January, when US ambassador Gregory Schulte formally handed over notification to IAEA director general Mohamed ElBaradei, making the AP effective in the country from that date.

The AP is a legal document that gives the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) greater inspection authority (such as short-notice access to all nuclear buildings and sites) and increased access to information within a state. Its entry into force in the USA will help the agency to ensure that material meant for power generation is not diverted for use in illicit weapons programmes. In addition, as the USA is a recognised nuclear weapons state, the IAEA will also be able to better ensure that its nuclear weapons technology is not shared with other counties.

The entry into force of the Additional Protocol in the USA brings the number of states with APs to 89. This year’s ratification means that the AP is now in force in all five of the recognised nuclear weapons states.

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