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IAEA Director General Grossi Will Work to Expand Agency Support in Nuclear Security

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi opening remarks at the VCDNP event on Building Bridges and Facilitating Consensus for a Successful ICONS 2020. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi welcomed the fact that countries are making increasing use of the Agency’s services to help guard against nuclear terrorism and pledged to build on the great political impetus seen in international cooperation in nuclear security in recent years.

“The need for international cooperation to guard against nuclear terrorism is universally recognised,” he said in remarks prepared for delivery at an event organised by the Vienna Centre for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP). “The IAEA is the inclusive global platform for that cooperation.”

The VCDNP event was focussed on next month’s IAEA ministerial conference on nuclear security, known as ICONS 2020. It will be the third IAEA ministerial conference on the subject, providing an opportunity for ministers, nuclear security experts and other officials to consider current approaches and future challenges in the field.

Mr Grossi, who took up office in December, said he expected IAEA countries to underline their political commitment to nuclear security at the 10-14 February conference in Vienna. “Our job is to ensure that those political commitments are realised. I will work to expand our support to all Agency Member States. This will be a priority for me as Director General.”

Mr Grossi said the existence of nuclear material inevitable draws malevolent interest from terrorists and other criminals. “It is vital that we remain ahead of the curve in guarding against nuclear terrorism.”

International cooperation had come a long way in recent years and nuclear security is now recognised as an important field in its own right and not just as an offshoot of nuclear safety, he added.

Since the last ministerial conference in 2016, the IAEA had provided face-to-face training in nuclear security to nearly 7,000 people, including police and border guards, and e-learning courses to more than 6,000 other officials.

It had donated radiation detection equipment to 33 countries and provided practical advice on nuclear security for 17 major public events, including World Youth Day in Panama last year, which was attended by Pope Francis and the presidents of seven Latin American countries.

Fifteen IAEA expert missions had advised countries on improving security at nuclear facilities, hospitals and other places where nuclear material is held.

“This is just a selection of our activities,” the IAEA Director General said.

Wednesday’s meeting was also addressed by the ICONS 2020 co-Chairs, Ambassador Cristian Istrate of Romania and Ambassador Omar Amer Youssef of Egypt, as well as by Laura Holgate, Vice President of the Nuclear Threat Initiative.

Panelists at the VCDNP event on Building Bridges and Facilitating Consensus for a Successful ICONS 2020. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

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