IAEA Ministerial Meeting Focuses on Stronger Nuclear Security

Lebanese customs officers practice radiation detection techniques during a training session in 2010. (Photo: Lebanese Customs Administration)

The International Atomic Energy Agency's International Conference on Nuclear Security: Enhancing Global Efforts opened on 1 July 2013 to address international nuclear security efforts by reviewing past achievements, current approaches and identifying future trends.

With more than 1 300 registered participants, including some 34 Government Ministers and other Heads of Delegation from 123 States, as well as 21 governmental and non-governmental Organizations, the Conference provides a forum for Ministers, policymakers and senior officials to formulate views on future directions and priorities to strengthen nuclear security.

The Conference opened with a ministerial session, chaired by the President of the Conference, János Martonyi, the Foreign Minister of Hungary. IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano and Ministers addressed the Conference. In his opening statement to the Ministerial Conference the Director General said, "The threat of nuclear terrorism is real, and the global nuclear security system needs to be strengthened in order to counter that threat."

"Taking action now to help prevent an incident occurring, and to limit the consequences if an incident were to happen, is clearly a necessary and a very worthwhile investment. I believe that this Conference will help in our continuing efforts to ensure that no terrorist attack ever succeeds."

The Director General also emphasized that "all countries should work to establish effective nuclear security systems. All countries should strengthen international cooperation, making sure that all internationally agreed instruments are in force and actually used. And they are encouraged to make full use of the expertise and assistance of the IAEA."

The full text of his remarks is available here.

The overall themes for the Conference are the past, present and future of nuclear security worldwide. These themes will be discussed at a high level during the main sessions of the Conference, and in more detail in separate, parallel technical sessions.

The results of the Ministerial Conference will also serve as important input in the preparation of the IAEA's next Nuclear Security Plan, for 2014-2017. The IAEA's first comprehensive Action Plan to Protect Against Nuclear Terrorism was approved in March 2002 by its Board of Governors and General Conference, and two further Nuclear Security Plans were approved in 2005 and 2009 respectively.

Under the 2010-2013 Nuclear Security Plan, the IAEA contributes to efforts to achieve worldwide, effective security wherever nuclear or other radioactive material is in use, in storage, and/or in transport, as well as the security of the associated facilities and activities. The IAEA supports States, upon their request, by providing assistance in capacity building, guidance, peer reviews and advisory services, human resource development, sustainability and risk reduction. The objective of the IAEA's support is also to assist States to implement and adhere to nuclear security-related international legal instruments; and to strengthen the international cooperation and coordination of assistance given through bilateral programmes and other international initiatives.

Background

There is a continuing risk that nuclear or other radioactive material could be used in malicious acts. This risk is regarded as a serious threat to international peace and security. The responsibility for nuclear security rests entirely with each State and that appropriate and effective national systems for nuclear security are vital in facilitating the peaceful use of nuclear energy and enhancing efforts to strengthen nuclear security worldwide.

The IAEA has been active in the nuclear security field for several decades. Its Office of Nuclear Security maintains an authoritative global database, which records incidents and trafficking in nuclear and radioactive materials. Upon request, the Office of Nuclear Security also provides, inter alia, peer reviews and advisory services.

Through its support, the IAEA helps States to prevent nuclear and other radioactive materials from being stolen and used maliciously, to secure borders against smuggling of radioactive materials, and to prepare for major public events that could be a target for criminal groups.

Last update: 10 September 2014