Renewed interest in nuclear energy as a sustainable, carbon emission-free component of a nation's energy portfolio has prompted the international nonproliferation community to evaluate how the expanded use of nuclear power can be effectively and efficiently safeguarded. One concept, named safeguards by design, aims at the efficient use of limited safeguards resources. It is a concept that was introduced in the mid-1990s and is currently under renewed review by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The IAEA would work with installation designers to facilitate the implementation of safeguards throughout the design and construction phases. The international nonproliferation community has picked up the discussion, and the nuclear industry is ready to contribute by evaluating whether a broader, synergetic engineering approach of a holistic design concept can be developed that would consider provisions for safety and security of new nuclear facilities.

This paper outlines the background of safeguards by design and describes how the comprehensive concept of safety, security, and safeguards by design was developed. The expected synergies lying in a multiuser approach to instrumentation are illustrated with a sample infrastructure with distributed sensor networks employing separated data authentication and encryption schemes, and the potential advantages for day-to-day operation of installations are highlighted. An overview is given of the expected challenges, ranging from sensitivity concerns on the operator side to authentication of data to allow for independent evaluation by safeguards authorities. Finally, we sketch an opinion on the best way for a project, from its very beginning, to technically interact with the IAEA and how the formal process at the state level could accommodate this concept.