proliferationalert-coverFindlay, Trevor. Proliferation Alert! The IAEA and Non-Compliance Reporting. Cambridge, Mass.: Report for Project on Managing the Atom, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, 10 2015.


In this new report from the Belfer Center’s Project on Managing the Atom, Trevor Findlay provides the first comprehensive study of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s handling of states that are not complying with their non-proliferation obligations.

The report finds that none of the cases—which include North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Libya, and Syria, among others—have followed the non-compliance process outlined in the Agency’s Statute and safeguards agreements. Rather, each case has posed unique challenges to the non-proliferation regime. The report concludes that creativity and deft statecraft rather than a rigid, formulaic approach are key to the handling of complex non-compliance cases.

In addition to flexibility, the report emphasizes the importance of protecting the impartiality and enhancing the technical capabilities of the Agency’s Secretariat and the need for the Board of Governors to assume full responsibility for making non-compliance judgments. It also calls for greater transparency from the Agency and its member states about compliance with safeguards.

The international community would do well to heed the lessons of past cases in dealing with any potential or actual Iranian non-compliance, while Iran should draw the lesson that proactive cooperation and transparency will smooth the compliance path considerably.

To find out more and download the entire report visit the Belfer Center’s website.

About the Author

Trevor Findlay is a Senior Research Fellow at the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne, Australia. Dr Findlay was a joint fellow Fellow/Senior Fellow with the International Security Program and Project on Managing the Atom (MTA) at the Belfer Center for Science & International Affairs at Harvard University from 2011 to 2015. He remains an MTA Associate. From 2005 to 2015 he was a professor at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada and holder of the William and Jeanie Barton Chair in International Affairs. He remains a Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus at Carleton.

Dr Findlay has a BA Honours degree from the University of Melbourne in political science and a Masters degree and PhD in international relations from the Australian National University (ANU). He spent thirteen years in the Australian diplomatic service, with postings in Tokyo, Mexico City and Geneva. This was followed by academic appointments at the Peace Research Centre at the ANU, including acting directorship, and four years as a project leader at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) in Sweden, where he inaugurated the project on peacekeeping and international security. From 1998 to 2005 he was Executive Director of the London-based  non-governmental organization, the Verification Research, Training and Information Centre (VERTIC). Professor Findlay was appointed to the United Nations Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters in 2013.

His current research focuses on global nuclear governance. His report on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Unleashing the Nuclear Watchdog, was published in 2012 by the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) in Waterloo, Canada. Dr Findlay’s most recent book is Nuclear Energy and Global Governance: Ensuring Safety, Security and Nonproliferation (London: Routledge, 2011). His Belfer Center papers for MTA include: Beyond Nuclear Summitry: The Role of the IAEA in Nuclear Security Diplomacy After 2016 (March 2014) and What Price Nuclear Governance: Funding the IAEA (March 2016).