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IAEA Reviews Nuclear Security in Belgium

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An IAEA team concluded that the physical protection system in Belgium is robust, with a program of continuous improvement in place at both the operator and government level. The International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) team identified numerous good practices, and made a number of recommendations and suggestions to further improve nuclear security.

The two-week mission, which concluded last week, reviewed the nation's nuclear security regime for nuclear material and associated facilities, as well as security arrangements applied to the transport of nuclear material. It was conducted by the IAEA at the request of the Belgian Government. It was the 64th IPPAS mission conducted by the IAEA since the programme began in 1995. Belgium was the 41st country to host an IPPAS mission.

The team visited the Tihange Nuclear Power Plant, the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre and a company specialized in the national and international transport of radioactive and nuclear material. The team also attended a response force exercise at the Doel Nuclear Power Plant.

The IAEA team was led by Steve Skelton, principal inspector at the Office for Nuclear Regulation in the United Kingdom, and it included six experts from five countries and the IAEA. The team met in Brussels with experts from the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC), officials of the National Security Authority and other officials.

The Belgian review was the first IPPAS mission to use recently updated Guidelines that further enhanced the value of the review missions, said Khammar Mrabit, Director of Nuclear Security at the IAEA.

"The interest among IAEA Member States for these missions underscores the value of IAEA Nuclear Security Guidance for global efforts in strengthening physical protection and nuclear security," he said.

Jan Bens, the Director-General of FANC, added:

"We continuously strive to improve our nuclear security regime and the IPPAS team's recommendations and suggestions will certainly be of valuable assistance to those efforts. We already look forward to the follow-up mission in a couple of years."

IPPAS missions are intended to help States strengthen their national nuclear security regime. The missions provide peer advice on implementing international instruments, and IAEA guidance on the protection of nuclear and other radioactive material and associated facilities.

The missions call upon a team of international experts to assess a nation's system of physical protection, compare it with international best practices and make recommendations and suggestions for improvement. IPPAS missions are conducted both on a nationwide and facility-specific basis.

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