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IAEA Regional Workshop Helps Raise Awareness of Nuclear Security in Central America and the Caribbean


Participants of the regional workshop conducting a case study on a nuclear security scenario, reflecting on roles and responsibilities of various competent authorities. (Photo: B. Battistella/IAEA)

During a regional workshop held last week, more than 20 nuclear security professionals from 12 countries and regional organizations reviewed the basic elements of a national nuclear security regime and learned how the IAEA assists in strengthening nuclear and radiological security in Central America and the Caribbean. The event focused on raising participants’ awareness of the significance of nuclear security and the IAEA’s nuclear security programme.

“The workshop has brought the need to pay greater attention to nuclear security into focus. I have identified several gaps in terms of our regulatory framework, and although we have taken nuclear uses for granted, in terms of medicine and agriculture, we have not really looked at the prospects of these being used for malicious purposes,” said Major Alando George Michael from the Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force.

Participants from competent authorities such as law enforcement agencies, regulatory bodies and defence and security services had the chance to get acquainted with the IAEA’s process for developing Integrated Nuclear Security Support Plans (INSSP) and the benefits States can draw from developing these Plans.

The INSSP is the IAEA’s primary mechanism to assist States’ to assess their nuclear security needs and possible ways to address them. A typical INSSP consists of six functional areas related to nuclear security: Legislative and regulatory framework, threat assessment, prevention, detection, response, and sustainability. It is a tailored and systematic approach to planning for nuclear security improvements that States can work with the IAEA or other assisting entities to develop upon request. This approach covers all aspects of planning and operation of domestic nuclear security infrastructure, and helps reduce redundancy and increase efficiency. INSSPs have become widely recognized as useful tools by States and to date, 106 INSSPs are in different stages of being drafted, approved or finalized.

The 2-4 July workshop also emphasised the importance of the Incident and Trafficking Database (ITDB), which helps combat illicit nuclear trafficking and strengthen nuclear security by facilitating information exchange and providing information that can be used to analyze patterns and trends, thereby helping identify potential security threats and vulnerabilities.

“The workshop was successful in acquainting participants with the ITDB and how the IAEA can assist States experiencing a range of unauthorized, deliberate or accidental transfers and use of nuclear materials, especially in an emergency circumstance.” said O'Neil Hamilton, Regional Coordinator with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, who participated in the workshop.

“Most importantly, the Group Sessions, focusing on threat assessment and security of radioactive sources as well as on detection and response, provided realistic scenarios for participants to logically anticipate next steps in dealing with a nuclear security event.“

This regional workshop, organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Health in Barbados, was a stepping-stone for enhanced future cooperation between the IAEA and participating States and enhancing nuclear security in the region.

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