Developing Tools to Assess Proliferation Resistance and Safeguardability of Nuclear Energy Systems
Feb 10, 2012
and Safeguardability Assessment Tools (PROSA),
1-3 February 2012, IAEA, Vienna Austria
Understanding the proliferation resistance of a nuclear energy system is crucial for the safe and responsible use of nuclear power. The systems must be designed to make any diversion or undeclared production of nuclear material or misuse of nuclear technology by States difficult and detectable; it must also enable the IAEA to meet its safeguards goals.
“In the INPRO Methodology, proliferation resistance is one of the seven areas used in assessing whether a nuclear energy system is sustainable” explains Randy Beatty, INPRO Group Leader. Similarly, experts of the Generation IV International Forum (GIF) developed an evaluation methodology for proliferation resistance and physical protection of Generation IV nuclear energy systems.
A new INPRO Collaborative Project entitled Proliferation Resistance and Safeguardability Assessment Tools – or PROSA, for short – is now developing a coordinated set of such tools from both the GIF and INPRO methodologies. The two-year project benefits from close cooperation between INPRO and the Department of Safeguards.
Experts from Germany, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Italy, Romania and the USA met at the IAEA on 1–3 February 2012 to launch the PROSA project and prepare terms of reference including timeline, deliverables, milestones and contribution by participants. Other Member States who will participate or follow the project as observers come from Canada, France, the Russian Federation and EC’s Joint Research Centre and the EU Directorate of Safeguards.
“International experts who are participating in the PROSA project are also involved in the GIF working group on proliferation resistance and physical protection”, says Eckhard Haas consultant to the Department of Safeguards and INPRO, who is one the Scientific Secretaries of the project. “This ensures a two-way information flow and a good cooperation between INPRO and GIF in developing the tools”, he adds.
“The goal is to make the assessment process and the results more easily understood by the users”, states Yusuke Kuno, Deputy Director and Prime Scientist at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA), who chaired the meeting. This will include analyses at the different levels, i.e. State, nuclear energy system and nuclear facility levels, and adjusting the depth of the analysis according to the information needs of different users. “We also want to demonstrate the value of a refined assessment methodology and make recommendations for a correspondingly refined INPRO manual in the area of proliferation resistance”, Mr Kuno adds.
The PROSA Project is a follow-up activity to the INPRO Collaborative Project on Proliferation Resistance: Acquisition/Diversion Pathway Analysis (PRADA) which was concluded at the end of 2010. PRADA’s objective was to provide guidance on enhancing proliferation resistance of innovative nuclear energy systems and contribute to further developing and strengthening the assessment area of ‘proliferation resistance’ in the INPRO methodology. The project’s conclusions were:
- The robustness of barriers is not a function of the number of barriers or of their individual characteristics but is an integrated function of these, and is measured by determining whether the safeguards goals can be met.
- The detailed application of the GIF pathway concept to identify and analyse acquisition/diversion pathways for nuclear material demonstrates the feasibility of merging the INPRO and GIF methodologiesto form a holistic approach.
Mr Hong-Lae Chang of the Korean Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) had taken the lead in the PRADA project and agreed to continue in that role also in PROSA.
In the INPRO methodology, the basic principles associated with proliferation resistance require that intrinsic features and extrinsic measures be implemented throughout the full life cycle of the nuclear energy system, and that they be optimized, by design and engineering, to provide cost effective proliferation resistance. The methodology assumes that an international safeguard is an important extrinsic measure. The attractiveness of nuclear materials and technology for diversion to a nuclear weapons programme should be low, and the diversion of nuclear material difficult and detectable.
“I believe the PROSA project will simplify the assessment for proliferation and safeguardability, as well as make the results more easily understood” says James Sprinkle, IAEA Senior Safeguards Analyst and also a Scientific Secretary of the project. “This will be especially important for any newcomer states undertaking an assessment.”