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Securing Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities: Applying IAEA Guidance

4 December 2017
The amount of nuclear material in peaceful uses in the world has risen by 70 percent since 1999 and will continue to grow in the coming decades as global use of nuclear power increases. 
Nuclear material is used to not only to produce energy but also to create radioisotopes used to help reduce crop losses, sterilize medical products and supplies, and treat disease. Physical protection of nuclear material ensures that the supply of these radioisotopes, and of nuclear power reactor fuel, is uninterrupted.
The IAEA supports States, upon their request, in strengthening physical protection, by providing guidance, advisory missions, training support and nuclear security upgrades for facilities.
The IAEA’s Nuclear Security Series document Recommendations on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities (INFCIRC/225/Revision5) (NSS13) provides guidance on how to develop or enhance a physical protection regime for nuclear material and nuclear facilities. It explains how to establish or improve legislative and regulatory programmes to address the protection of nuclear material and nuclear facilities, with the aim of protecting persons, property, society, and the environment from malicious acts involving nuclear or other radioactive material. This includes physical protection measures to protect against the unauthorized removal of nuclear material, to locate and recover missing nuclear material, and to protect against sabotage to include during transport.Physical protection measures protect personnel and property and reduce the risk of theft and other malicious acts.  Personnel, procedures and equipment should be in place to deny unauthorized access to facilities and nuclear material and to minimize the risk that insiders cause harm.
At an IAEA training course in June 2017 at Japan’s Nuclear Security Support Centre, participants learned how to apply physical protection measures as outlined in NSS 13, at a physical protection exercise field and mock facility. They learned about using physical protection measures to deter, delay, detect and assess any malicious acts.Measures taken to deter unauthorized access can include identification badges, the use of as few access points as possible, random security patrols and searches of persons, packages and vehicles. 
Fences around the nuclear facilities perimeter, barbed or razor wire, locks and seals help delay unauthorized access to a facility’s secured inner area. Motion detection cameras, intrusion detection systems, door alarms, video capture monitors and constant surveillance by security officers help detect and assess potential malicious acts.“Even if you read about physical protection instruments like cameras, line-type sensors, or volumetric sensors in textbooks, and talk about them in group discussions, it is hard to image how they work in practice,’” explained Mitsutoshi Suzuki, Deputy Director & General Manager of ISCN.  “During exercises at our mock nuclear facility, students gain valuable hands-on experience with these individual instruments, and an understanding of how they contribute to a physical protection system as a whole.”   
Similar measures are used to protect nuclear material in transport. During an IAEA course in Germany on the security of nuclear material during transport, participants learned about material characterization, security functions, management, and how safety and security work together.  The course was part of the IAEA’s work to support Parties in applying the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM). The Amendment, which entered into force in 2016, expanded the Convention’s scope to also cover the protection of nuclear facilities and nuclear material in domestic use, storage and transport.Course participant Lone Aggersbjerg, a Legal Consultant from the Danish Emergency Management Agency, said Denmark’s function as a flag state – that is, many vessels operate under its laws – meant that the country had to stay abreast of the rules and intricacies of maritime shipping.
 “We transport nuclear material by sea and face different threats than those that ship by road or air.  It is important to have a network of colleagues from around the world with similar responsibilities and facing similar challenges,” she said. 
The IAEA convened an International Conference on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities in Vienna from 13-17 November, during which participants shared lessons learned and good practices in implementing NSS13. 
The IAEA assists States in strengthening physical protection regimes in a coherent and comprehensive manner and NSS13 is an integral tool in these efforts.

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