Detection time is defined as the maximum time that may elapse between diversion of a given amount of nuclear material and detection of that diversion by IAEA safeguards activities. Where there is no additional protocol in force or where the IAEA has not drawn a conclusion of the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in a State, it is assumed:
- that all facilities needed to clandestinely convert the diverted material into components of a nuclear explosive device exist in a State
- that processes have been tested (e.g., by manufacturing dummy components using appropriate surrogate materials)
- that non-nuclear components of the device have been manufactured, assembled and tested.
Under these circumstances, detection time should correspond approximately to estimated conversion times. Longer detection times may be acceptable in a State where the IAEA has drawn and maintained a conclusion of the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities. Detection time is one factor used to establish the timeliness component of the IAEA inspection goal.