Physical Protection of Nuclear Material



Guidance and Consideration for Implementation of INFCIRC/225/Rev.3

The Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, INFCIRC/225/Rev.3, provides guidance and recommendations for the physical protection of nuclear material against theft in use, storage and transport, whether national or international and whether peaceful or military, and contains provisions relating to the sabotage of nuclear material or facilities. The guidance contained in INFCIRC/225/Rev.3 details the elements that should be included in a State's system of physical protection. It also recognizes the adverse health and safety consequences arising from the theft of nuclear material and the sabotage of nuclear material or facilities. Most industrial and developing countries use these recommendations to some extent in the establishment and operation of their physical protection systems.

Physical protection against the theft or unauthorized diversion of nuclear material and against sabotage of nuclear material and facilities by individuals or groups is a matter of national and international concern. Although responsibility for establishing and operating a comprehensive physical protection system for nuclear material and facilities within a State rests entirely with the Government of that State, the IAEA has long contributed recommendations in this area. Discussions with experts in this field indicate that the meaning and intent of INFCIRC/225/Rev.3 is not always well understood by regulators and that additional guidance for implementing those portions of the recommendations which are open to varied interpretations would be quite useful.

The need for Government authorities to give nuclear operators (licensees) and applicants specific guidance on how to implement national requirements in a manner consistent with the recommendations in INFCIRC/225/Rev.3. was raised by several representatives of Eastern countries at the International Conference on Physical Protection held in St. Petersburg in April 1995. Although INFCIRC/225/Rev.3 provides recommendations for protecting materials and facilities from theft or sabotage, it does not provide in-depth details for these recommendations. How these recommendations are implemented can have significant implications on the effectiveness of systems and on cost.

In June 1996, the Agency convened a consultant's meeting to consider this matter. The primary objective of this meeting was to identify and prioritize those recommendations for which guidance is most needed. During the initial phase of the meeting, each participant provided their views on the need for such guidance to implement INFCIRC/225/Rev.3 based on their experience. The focus of the meeting was on developing guidance to assist in implementing INFCIRC/225/Rev.3, not on making changes to that document.

This document is the result of continuing discussions and drafts over a period of nine months. The intent of this guidance is to provide a broader basis for relevant State organizations to prescribe appropriate requirements for the use of nuclear materials which are compatible with accepted international practice.

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