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Countries to Provide US$ 20 million to IAEA Nuclear Security Fund

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The closing session of ICONS 2020. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

At the conclusion of the IAEA’s International Conference on Nuclear Security: Sustaining and Strengthening Efforts (ICONS2020) on Friday, countries announced or confirmed a total of more than US $20 Million to the IAEA Nuclear Security Fund (NSF), as they reaffirmed their commitment to sustaining and strengthening nuclear security globally.

“The flow of cooperation and assistance from the Member States is growing,” said IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi in his closing remarks. “The pledges of contribution to the NSF is an indication of the political commitment, [as well as of the] seriousness of the mission and the gravity of the challenges.”

The IAEA’s nuclear security programme, including assistance provided to countries upon request, is supported by Member States’ voluntary contributions to the Nuclear Security Fund.

“The Nuclear Security Plan responds to priorities Member States have expressed,” said Raja Raja Adnan, Director for the IAEA’s Division of Nuclear Security. “The Nuclear Security Plan 2022-2025 will be informed by the recommendations from the five high-level panels and 55 technical sessions held during ICONS 2020.”

The high-level panels reinforced the role of the IAEA in information exchange, noted the importance of having funds to meet nuclear security activities and highlighted the coordination of technical support to Member States. Speakers on the Emerging Technologies and the Digital Age panel outlined the role of the IAEA in exploring both the use of new technologies such as drones and artificial intelligence for nuclear security, and also the potential threats they could cause to nuclear and other radioactive materials, activities and facilities.

In the technical sessions, participants discussed ways in which nuclear security responds to the evolving nuclear threat environment. Participants of the technical session Addressing Security from the Start stressed that sustainability of nuclear security systems and measures is enhanced if nuclear security is integrated at the earliest stages of facility and equipment design. Human resource development was also highlighted as an essential element because unavailability of competent and motivated staff entails significant nuclear security risks; and comprehensive human resource development, including a systematic training, is essential for establishing and sustaining nuclear security regimes.

Speakers at the Nuclear Material Accounting and Control and Insider Threat session recommended that the IAEA help Member States differentiate between nuclear material accounting and control in nuclear security and safeguards.

In other side events held in the margins of ICONS 2020, participants discussed the prevention and detection of trafficking of nuclear and other radioactive material, challenges of securing nuclear fuel during transport, integrating safety and security in the management of disused sealed radioactive sources, the development of regulatory infrastructure, and challenges in defining nuclear security in every language.

“Robust nuclear security is not a goal to be pursued out of some abstract interest, but rather because it is in Member States’ own interests. And we are re-energized in our commitment to Member States and to the mission of sustaining and strengthening nuclear security globally,” Mr Grossi said.

Earlier in the week, at the only international ministerial-level conference on nuclear security, delegates adopted a Ministerial Declaration; the over 100 national statements that emphasized the indispensable role of the IAEA in this field.

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