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IAEA Holds Table Top Exercise to Strengthen Detection and Response Capabilities in Maritime Nuclear Security Events

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Participants reviewing national preparedness strategies and planning responses to nuclear security threats. (Photo: Atomic Energy Licensing Board)

An IAEA regional workshop, organized in Malaysia in cooperation with the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, used a table top exercise to help participants strengthen their capacity to detect and respond to nuclear security events in coastal and maritime areas.

The workshop looked at mechanisms to create national preparedness strategies, models for regional and international coordination, and cooperation during the detection and response to a nuclear security event.

Maritime environments present specific issues for coordinating roles and responsibilities of various national agencies as the threat can move from international to national waters and onto land.

The three countries taking part in the workshop Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines  are cooperating to manage and respond to security threats within their shared maritime borders. The United States and Mauritania attended the workshop as observers.

“Nuclear terrorism continues to be a defining challenge that requires coordinated preparedness and response capabilities throughout a national government and local authorities,” IAEA Division of Nuclear Security Director Raja Abdul Aziz Raja Adnan said as he opened the workshop.  

The about 50 participants in the workshop, held in August 2018, discussed structures, protocols, resources, and plans that link senior decision makers to operators. They also identified sustainability strategies for capabilities that support nuclear security authorities, including operational personnel, technical experts, and senior leaders.

“This exercise served as reference material and offered experience in coming up with more response, prevention, and detection mechanisms, consistent with a country’s situation, maritime security, the location of licensed regulated radiological and nuclear sources, and its physical protection,” said workshop participant Colonel Abe Arenga, Command Inspector General with the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Workshop participant Normah Ishak, Assistant Director with the Royal Malaysian Police, added: “This workshop also provided a platform for participants to engage and network with partner agencies and created a conducive atmosphere at a personal level, which can be extended to an agency level.”

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