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Microanalysis for International Atomic Energy Agency

Back in 2012, the Microscopy Australia facility at UWA qualified under the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Network of Analytical Laboratories to analyse environmental samples for the IAEA.

For the past ten years their analyses, done using their high-end ion probe instrument, the SIMS, by their expert staff, have helped detect undeclared nuclear activities around the world. This has been recognised by the IAEA in letters of appreciation.

“I’m writing to express the appreciation of the Department of Safeguards, from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), for the sample analysis support provided by your team at the University of Western Australia.

The Department of Safeguards relies on the analysis of environmental samples for the detection of undeclared nuclear activities at facilities around the world. Few laboratories can provide the specialized analytical methods and techniques that are required by the IAEA to assure the completeness of State declarations. Following its official qualification in 2012 under the IAEA’s Network of Analytical Laboratories (NWAL), the UWA has provided consistent and high-quality analysis support over the past nine years.

The number of environmental samples collected by safeguards inspectors has risen notably during the past few years and continues to rise as an unprecedented rate. In light of this, as well as potential new challenges facing the international community, we were very pleased to learn that UWA was in a position to double its analysis support for the IAEA – from 20 to 40 samples per year. Without the critical support of important institutions such as UWA, the IAEA would be challenged to draw safeguards conclusions within the time frames required to detect and deter undeclared nuclear activities. We are therefore grateful for the support provided by UWA in support of our shared goal of international peace and security.”

Microscopy Australia staff, Dr Laure Martin and Mr Matvei Aleshin with the IMS1280 instrument used for IAEA work.