Kazakhstan, producer of more than 20 000 tonnes of natural uranium per year, has welcomed security guidance recently developed by the IAEA.
“It is difficult to overstate the importance and timeliness of the guidance,” said Eldar Nikhanov, physical protection officer at a uranium mine in Kazakhstan under the State-run company Kazatomprom. “Since we adopted new security measures consistent with the guidance, there have been no incidents of unauthorized removal of natural uranium.”
Strengthening international security
In 2010, Kazakhstan established a comprehensive system for the control and physical protection of natural uranium. Its experience in implementing this system contributed to the development of a series of new IAEA security guidance documents compiled in a publication entitled Nuclear Security in the Uranium Extraction Industry, issued in February 2016.
“As a world leader in uranium ore concentrate production, Kazakhstan is aware of its responsibility to contribute to natural uranium security measures within the international community,” Nikhanov said.
The IAEA publication includes specific measures to address insider and outsider threats and covers physical protection, inventory control and transport security. It also provides guidance on how to develop facility security plans and comprehensive transport security plans. Kazakhstan has a total of 23 production sites for extracting and processing uranium, and the security of each one of these has been strengthened significantly thanks to the recent IAEA guidance, Nikhanov said.
An international legal framework calling for prudent management practices is in place to ensure that natural uranium stays secure. The IAEA has built on this by informing State regulatory bodies and industry operators on prudent management practices to protect uranium ore concentrate from unauthorized removal during production, storage and transport. Kazakhstan, a major contributor to the guidance, has implemented these measures at the national level, Nikhanov said.