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INSAG Forum Discusses Safety-Security Interface Developments and Challenges


Panelists presented the results from a technical meeting on the safety-security interface held last October before engaging participants in a discussion. (Photo: K. Siewert/IAEA)

At a forum organized by the International Nuclear Safety Group (INSAG) held alongside the IAEA’s 63rd General Conference today, experts discussed progress related to the interface between nuclear safety and security, referring to measures and requirements in each field that could potentially impact one another.

“Though distinct topics, nuclear safety and nuclear security are interlinked, and they share the same goal: to protect people, society and the environment from hazards or threats that could arise from peaceful nuclear and radiological activities,” said IAEA Deputy Director General Juan Carlos Lentijo, Head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security. “A coordinated approach to the two topics ensures that actions taken in one field do not have negative effects on the other.”

Nuclear safety focuses on preventing accidents and nuclear security on providing protection against malicious acts. Actions taken to enhance safety may simultaneously strengthen security, and vice versa. The opposite can occur as well, where practices in one area may have a negative impact on the other. For example, in the field of nuclear security, information is often restricted to as few people as possible, whereas nuclear safety frequently relies on transparency for better outcomes.

“Paying close attention to the overlap in these disciplines is paramount to understanding how nuclear safety and security can mutually complement or counteract one another,” said Gustavo Caruso, Director of the IAEA Office of Safety and Security Coordination.

Laercio Vinhas, the chair of the IAEA Advisory Committee on Nuclear Security (AdSec), briefed participants on the outcomes of an IAEA technical meeting on the safety-security interface held in October 2018. Participants in that meeting identified challenges, gaps and good practices in implementing measures on nuclear safety and security in a complementary way that enhances their effects.

“While it is a common goal of the Member States to address the interface between nuclear safety and security, there are a range of different approaches used to achieve this goal,” said Vinhas. “These reflect the varying circumstances in different Member States, such as the nature and scale of the facilities and activities being undertaken and the nature of the national legal framework.”

Participants at the technical meeting suggested that awareness about the safety-security interface be promoted, particularly in Member States where separate cultures still exist for safety and security. To ensure that safety and security measures are implemented in a harmonized manner, human resource development programmes addressing both areas jointly may be needed, along with combined staff training arrangements and exercises, Vinhas said.

A report on these technical meeting outcomes, to be published in the coming months, will be the first report in a technical series to cover both safety and security. Previously, IAEA reports on both safety and security were published separately.

In addition to the report, progress on a potential INSAG-AdSec report on the safety-security interface was presented. The report, expected to be published within the next two years, will cover developments that have occurred since the 2010 publication of an INSAG report titled The Interface Between Safety and Security at Nuclear Power Plants (INSAG Series No. 24).

“While the insights from INSAG-24 remain valid, many developments have since taken place, particularly the strengthening of the international legal framework,” said Anita Nilsson, Associate Fellow of International Security at Chatham House. This report will take these developments into account and broaden the scope beyond nuclear power plants to include all facilities, activities and locations where nuclear and radioactive material is used, she added.

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