Guidelines for IAEA International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS)
Contents | Foreword | Part I | Part II | Part III | References | Glossary | Contributors |


Purpose of the guidelines
Advance reference material
Support facilities

I-1. Introduction

It will be readily apparent that, with the reasonable and necessary variations in physical protection practices between different countries, there cannot be an absolute measure of the adequacy and effectiveness of the practices in any one country.

Typically differences will occur between Member States because of differences in perceived threats. Therefore, there will be differences in the implementation of international guidance contained in The Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities (INFCIRC/225) [1] and obligations required in The Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (INFCIRC/274/Rev.1) [2].

For these reasons, and because each Member State is ultimately responsible for the physical protection of nuclear materials and nuclear facilities on its own territory or on board a ship or aircraft under its jurisdiction, it is neither realistic nor proper to expect any international group to review and pass absolute judgement on the national physical protection system.

What can be achieved, however, is for an International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) expert team to compare, insofar as this is possible, the implementation of of the obligations under the Physical Protection Convention and under the existing international consensus guidelines and equivalent good practices elsewhere. The IPPAS team can, and should, be judgmental in evaluating the national physical protection system with respect to these guidelines and practices; it can also provide recommendations and suggestions for improvement and acknowledge good practice. For this comparison the team, as well as considering the arrangements of the competent authority at its headquarters, should visit a nuclear site or observe nuclear material in transit to look at the implementation of physical protection requirements.

International guidelines referred to in this publication are INFCIRC/225 and the obligations specified in INFCIRC/274/Rev 1.

An IPPAS review of the implementation of a State system of physical protection is based on the recommendations contained in INFCIRC/225 and, as supplemented in IAEA-TECDOC-967, Guidance and Considerations for Implementation of INFCIRC/225/Rev.3, The Physical Protection of Nuclear Material [3], plus the obligations stated in the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material. In some instances the host government may additionally request the team to concentrate on specific details or areas of the review. If this occurs then it will be clearly noted in the final mission report.

I-2. Purpose of the guidelines

This publication has been prepared to provide a basic structure and common reference for all IPPAS missions. As such, it is addressed, principally, to the team members of IPPAS missions but it will also provide guidance to a host government receiving a mission.

This publication is intended to help the experts to formulate their review in the light of their own experience. It is not all inclusive and should not limit the experts' investigations, but is better considered as illustrating the requirements for an adequate review.

I-3. Objectives

The key objectives of an IPPAS mission are to enhance the national physical protection system by:

  • Providing assistance to national competent authorities on how to translate the INFCIRC/225 recommendations into specific requirements for the State system forthe physical protection of nuclear facilities and nuclear materials in storage, transport and use.

  • Providing assistance to facility operators on the various methods by which INFCIRC/225 recommendations and best practices can be satisfied;

  • Providing key staff of the national competent authority and facility operators with an opportunity to discuss their practices with experts who have experience of other practices in the same field;

  • Recognizing good practices identified in the course of the mission; and

  • Providing experts and observers from Member States with opportunities to broaden their experience and knowledge of their own field.

The IPPAS is intended to be a review of the national physical protection system conducted by a team of international experts who will also use their experience and guidance to suggest the improvement of that system. Judgements are made on the basis of the combined expertise of the international team. The mission is therefore not a regulatory inspection or an audit against set codes and standards. Instead, it is a comparison (insofar as this is possible) of the existing practices of a country with the obligations under INFCIRC/274/Rev.1, existing international consensus guidelines (INFCIRC/225) and an exchange of experiences and equivalent good practices aimed at strengthening the organization and the procedures and practices being followed.

I-4. Protocol

An IPPAS mission will only be initiated after the IAEA has been approached formally by a Member State at the appropriate governmental level.

The mission will be performed by a group of experts from various national authorities selected by the IAEA, with the agreement of the host government. They should have both broad knowledge and long experience in the field.

The mission report will be confidential unless the country specifically states otherwise. The experts constituting the team will protect copies of the report and any information obtained and should be treated as Safeguards Confidential [4]. In addition, the disclosure of sensitive information to the IPPAS team is at the discretion of the host government.

The decision to implement any recommendations of the report will lie entirely with the relevant authorities of the country concerned.

I-5. Methodology

I.5.1 Preparation

On receipt of a request for an IPPAS mission, the IAEA will designate a Technical Officer who will be responsible for:

  • Co-ordinating the preparatory work and making the necessary arrangements to conduct an IPPAS mission;

  • Establishing liaison contacts with the appropriate counterparts of the host country who will be the primary contact with the expert(s) during the mission;

  • In conjunction with the host country, designating a national physical protection expert to be the team leader for the IPPAS mission; and

  • In conjunction with the team leader, arranging for a preparatory meeting with the host country.

Prior to the preparatory meeting with the host country, the Technical Officer should convene a meeting involving various interested organizations within the IAEA (e.g., TCPA, NSRW, ADLG, ADEX) in order to harmonize the IAEA's approach to the proposed mission and review existing information related to the host country s legislation, infrastructure physical protection activities and illicit trafficking programme.

A preparatory meeting should be held in the host country to allow senior management and other organizations involved to participate. The meeting will consider:

  • the main features of the IPPAS programme;

  • preparation for the mission, including a list of the documents required for the mission;

  • preparation of the advance information package;

  • logistic support required;

  • preparation, review and confidentiality of the IPPAS report and technical notes; and

  • the identification and scheduling of al persons and organizations to be interviewed.

I.5.2 Team composition

The team will comprise a leader and three or more experts in the field of physical protection. An observer may be proposed by the IAEA for consideration by the host country. It is expected that such missions would take 10 days to two weeks.

The IAEA will request experts to serve on the team from appropriate national authorities as agreed in the preparatory meeting. IPPAS team members are selected by the IAEA so as to ensure that a variety of national approaches to regulation and implementation is represented. Each of the experts is likely to have, in addition to a particular area of expertise, knowledge of other national approaches and other relevant areas. Coupling this knowledge with the international guidelines allows the best practices to be identified.

I.5.3 IPPAS team leader

The team leader will retain overall responsibility for:

  • Liaison with the government counterparts;

  • Co-ordination of the IPPAS team;

  • Participating in the preparatory, entry and exit meetings;

  • Supervising the review, including conducting daily team meetings, ensuring that schedules are met, informing government officials, resolving issues requiring decision and preparing for the exit meeting;

  • Co-ordinating the preparation of all technical notes;

  • Producing the final IPPAS report.

I.5.4 The review

The IPPAS team uses all or some of the following to acquire the information needed to develop their conclusions and recommendations as set out in the experts' technical notes. These are:

  • a review of written material;

  • interviews with personnel; and

  • direct observation of organization, practices and systems in place for the government and at a nuclear site or during transport of nuclear material.

Experts are expected to cover all aspects of physical protection to the extent necessary to be able to make an informed judgement in response to the request for assistance. Matters of concern should be investigated to the extent required to document the concerns accurately in the experts' technical notes and in sufficient detail to be readily understandable. Recommendations and suggestions should be formulated on the basis of the review. Similarly, good practices encountered in the review should be documented for the benefit of other Member States and described in the technical notes in sufficient detail as to be readily understandable.

I-5.4.1. Documents

The basis for any review of physical protection requirements will consist of the IPPAS experts' reviews of (a) national legislation, (b) competent authority organization and procedures, (c) regulations and guides and (d) facility and transport plans and procedures, as appropriate.

Written material of general interest to the expert team that should be provided prior to the review is listed in Section I-6. Specific guidance to assist the experts is included as supplementary guidance in Part II.

I-5.4.2. Interviews

After consideration of the relevant written material, the interviews with personnel can then be used to:

  • Obtain additional information;

  • Review issues arising out of the previous actions or briefings;

  • Form a judgement of the arrangements, duties and responsibilities of the competent authority;

  • Determine whether the regulatory and administrative arrangements and physical protection measures meet established international guidelines and consensus;

  • Elicit individual opinions;

  • Form judgement of knowledge base, training and resources of the organization;

  • Examine the relationship between the competent authority and the facility operator, in particular how the competent authority regulates and assesses the way the facility is operated; and

  • Support, confirm or disabuse observations made during the onsite observation of measures in place.

The interviews will also provide an opportunity for important information to be exchanged between experts and their counterparts. An interview should be a give and take discussion and not an interrogation of the counterparts by the experts. Properly conducted, these interviews are a most important part of the IPPAS mission.

I-5.4.3. Direct observation

Direct observation of the implementation of physical protection measures during transport or at a facility should be an important aspect of the review process. A substantial part of the review period should be devoted to practices in use. The observation of work should cover physical protection practices, use of procedures, site plans and instructions, regular and specific reporting and quality control measures in use, and should include a review of management controls in place.

On the basis of the interviews and observations, the experts can then if necessary modify their preliminary views to form a judgement of performance and effectiveness. It may be that more than one iteration through document review, interview and observation will be necessary in order to form a judgement.

I.5.5 Reporting

The IPPAS review compares observed practices with existing international consensus guidelines and equivalent good practices elsewhere. The review should:

  • Assess national practices in comparison to those described in INFCIRC/225 and INFCIRC/274/Rev.1;

  • Offer proposals for change, when appropriate;

  • Note that any changes to national practices are at the discretion of the authorities of the Member State concerned; and

  • Consider how effectively laws, procedures, etc., are implemented in practice.

The comparisons may result in recommendations or suggestions or the identification of good practices in accordance with the following definitions:

Recommendation: A recommendation is advice on how improvements can be made in the areas that have been reviewed and discussed as already described. Such advice is based on generally accepted international practices and should deal with the root causes rather than the symptoms of the concerns raised. It can be, but need not necessarily be, an indication of shortcomings in the State system of physical protection. Recommendations should be specific, realistic and designed to result in tangible improvements.

Suggestion: A suggestion either is an additional proposal in conjunction with a recommendation or may stand on its own following a discussion of the associated background. It may indirectly contribute to improvements in the national physical protection system, to indicate useful expansions of existing programmes and to point out possibly better alternatives to current work. In general, it should stimulate the competent authority's and the operator's management and staff to consider ways and means of enhancing performance.

Good practice: A good practice is an indication of an outstanding organization, arrangement, programme or performance and more than just the fulfilment of current requirements or expectations. It should be worth bringing to the attention of others as a model in the general drive for excellence.

I-5.5.1. Technical notes

During the course of the review, individual team members will write detailed technical notes on their observations and conclusions on the area as assigned to them, including any recommendations, suggestions or good practices. These technical notes are then the subject of peer review by all team members. The recommendations and suggestions will be discussed with the competent authority to obtain general agreement before finalizing the technical notes. These findings form the basis of oral presentations at the exit meeting. One or more copies of the technical notes are given to the senior management prior to the exit meeting.

The technical notes are the "field notes" of the individual experts and are considered restricted documents by the IAEA.

I-5.5.2. The IPPAS mission report

Guidelines for drafting a mission report are presented in Part III.

On completion of the review, the team leader will prepare a draft IPPAS report. The main body of the report will be comprised of the technical notes produced during the mission and edited by the team leader. The team leader will summarize the team's main observations and conclusions from comparisons with generally accepted international practices, including all recommendations, suggestions and good practices. The team leader will then pass the draft report to the team for final comment before submitting it to the IAEA within three months.

Appropriate IAEA staff will review the draft report prior to submission to the competent authority of the host country. The competent authority and the others involved in the review will be given the opportunity of offering comments before the text is finalized. Any comments received will be discussed by the IAEA with the team leader before the final published report is submitted through official channels to the host country concerned. The IAEA restricts initial distribution to the authorities concerned, the contributors to the report and responsible IAEA staff. Any further distribution will be at the discretion of the Host Country. Modifications to these report preparation procedures, as appropriate, can be considered at the preparatory meeting.

At all times the technical notes, draft reports and final report will be treated as Safeguards Confidential [4] by team members and the IAEA. Special care will be taken by team members when circulating draft reports for comments.

I-6. Advance reference material

Relevant documents discussed at the preparatory meeting should preferably be submitted in English. If necessary the IAEA may translate pertinent documents into English. In order to save time during the mission and allow IPPAS team members to obtain a good understanding of the organisation, authorities and its legal basis, these documents should be provided to the IAEA for transmittal to IPPAS team members at least two months prior to the team s visit.

  1. National legislation:
    • Law(s) governing physical protection of nuclear material and nuclear facilities;

    • Synopsis of the responsibilities and structure of the various government organizations (specifying relevant departments) that deal with the physical protection of nuclear &materials and nuclear facilities and how they interrelate; and

    • Regulations on the physical protection of nuclear material and nuclear facilities.

  2. Competent authority organization and procedures:
    • Legal status and responsibilities assigned by law to the competent authority;

    • Objectives of the competent authority and how it maintains its independence;

    • Structure, organization and staffing of the competent authority;

    • Description of the licensing procedures, where applicable;

    • Description of the process for resolving safety and security conflicts;

    • Procedures for assessment and review of technical submissions;

    • Inspection practices;

    • Enforcement procedures;

    • A typical licence where it includes physical protection requirements; and

    • List of applicable codes and standards.

  3. Facility plans, information and procedures

I.7 Support facilities

Prior to the IPPAS mission, as part of the discussions at the preparatory meeting, the IAEA and the team leader will make arrangements with the host country being visited to ensure the provision of necessary support facilities. All reviews are conducted in English and the host country should provide any necessary interpretation to enable the team members to do their work. At all times, there should be at least one meeting room at the disposal of the team, of sufficient size to enable them to work and to hold discussions in reasonable privacy. The room should be equipped with electrical power, since each team member will be equipped with a laptop computer. Computer printers and copiers should also be readily available.

I.8 Follow-up

Since the implementation of physical protection systems is entirely a national responsibility, the possible upgrade of these systems as well as the maintenance of the upgraded systems is a responsibility of the State. The IAEA is in a position to give advice on the options available to carry out the recommendations and suggestions in order to improve the national physical protection system and nuclear facilities. If national authorities would like to discuss these options and the availability of possible support to improve their national physical protection system, the IAEA would assist them in that effort.

Guidelines for IAEA International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS)
Contents | Foreword | Part I | Part II | Part III | References | Glossary | Contributors |