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IAEA Builds Nuclear Security Detection Capabilities by Training Instructors for Front Line Officers


Enhancing the capabilities of Front Line Officers is instrumental in ensuring the detection of, and response to, nuclear security threats. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

Front Line Officers are positioned at strategic locations where illegal acts could be encountered, such as smuggling of drugs, human trafficking, and illicit trafficking of nuclear and other radioactive material. Ensuring they have a full understanding of the threats posed by criminal acts or unauthorized acts involving nuclear and other radioactive material out of regulatory control is an important component of a country’s nuclear security detection architecture.

“Front Line Officers are potentially first alerted about nuclear and other radioactive material out of regulatory control, either through information alerts or detection equipment alarms,” said Daming Liu, Head of the IAEA’s Section on Nuclear Security of Materials Outside of Regulatory Control. “A specific training programme that involves instructors in nuclear security detection is an essential part for the sustainable capacity building for Front Line Officers.”

From 2011 to 2015, the IAEA trained over 400 instructors from 32 countries as trainers for Front Line Officers on responsibilities in nuclear security detection operations.

Recognizing the need for a consistent global approach, the curriculum has evolved in collaboration with the Department of Energy - Office of Nuclear Smuggling Detection and Deterrence (DOE-NSDD) of the United States of America, and the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Union through Border Monitoring Working Group (BMWG). The revised curriculum was piloted in 2017 and first implemented in 2018. This builds training development and instruction capabilities in general, as well as instructors’ capabilities for training Front Line Officers in nuclear security detection. To date, 62 instructors from 21 countries have been trained through four such training courses.

The course aims to improve participants’ instruction skills and to prepare them to competently deliver a technical curriculum on detection of nuclear and other radioactive material out of regulatory control. The two-week course involves lectures focused on building a common understanding around instructional good practices for adult learners, and a ‘teach back’ segment of the technical course on detection of nuclear and other radioactive material out of regulatory control. Participants are then able to deliver the technical course in their countries.

Past trainees are now instructors

The training course for Front Line Officers covers activities to reinforce learning objectives that include good practices to enhance nuclear security. (Photo: M. Tremonte/IAEA)

Instructors from Malaysia, Nigeria and the United States of America participated in the implementation of this curriculum during an IAEA regional training course in August 2022.

“The training provided an understanding of the importance of security for nuclear and other radioactive material out of regulatory control and the role Front Line Officers play in countering threats. Capacity building of Front Line Officers through Systematic Approach to Training can never be overemphasized as it gives a firm foundation for the implementation of Integrated Nuclear Security Support Plan at national level,” said Walter Kamusasa, Inspector with the Radiation Protection Authority of Zimbabwe, who was a trainee at this course.

Luzza Lenny binti Shahbudin, Assistant Commissioner Police within the Police Leadership Excellence Unit in the Royal Malaysia Police College Kuala Lumpur, has been an instructor since 2018. “In the Train-the-Trainers Course we work as a team,” she said. “Future men and women instructors work on essential instructors’ skill to successfully deliver the technical Front Line Officer curriculum.” For example, in the August 2022 course two Nigerian instructors were trainees from past courses led by Ms Shahbudin. 

Future training opportunities

The IAEA continues to collaborate with instructors that have received this course to understand how the curriculum is implemented in their countries.

Countries interested in attending future courses are required to have developed a national detection strategy as part of their nuclear security plans, and to have included in their national Integrated Nuclear Security Support Plan the need for instructors in this subject area. 

The next Train-the-Trainers Course for Instructors of Front Line Officers on the Detection of Nuclear and Other Radioactive Material out of Regulatory Control is being planned for 2023.

The IAEA provides additional opportunities for Front Line Officers to collaborate through the Network of Front Line Officers. The Third Annual Meeting of the Network was held in Vienna, Austria from 11-13 October 2022. Questions regarding the Front Line Officer Network and its activities can be directed to the FLO Network.

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