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International Physical Protection Advisory Service: IAEA Reaches the 100th Mission Milestone


For more than a quarter of a century, the IAEA has been offering the International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) to its Member States, with the aim of helping countries to strengthen their nuclear security regimes.

From the very first International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) missions in Bulgaria and Slovenia in 1996 to the most recent 100th mission in Zambia, teams of international experts convened by the IAEA have reviewed the physical protection of nuclear and other radioactive material and associated facilities in 60 countries as well as at the IAEA Laboratories in Seibersdorf. 

 "The advice and support provided by IPPAS teams of international experts has helped countries to improve their national nuclear security regimes. The milestone of the 100 IPPAS missions in 60 countries confirms the value and importance of the programme and drives all of us to keep working on strengthening nuclear security globally," said Lydie Evrard, Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security in her remarks at a side event of the IAEA’ s annual General Conference.  

For over 25 years, IPPAS missions provide peer advice on implementing the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) and its Amendment and the Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources, as well as the IAEA nuclear security guidance. Out of the 100 IPPAS missions, 11 missions were conducted in Africa, 18 in Asia and the Pacific, 60 in Europe, nine in Latin America and the Caribbean and two in North America. Twenty-two of them were follow-up missions. The missions have been conducted with the participation of more than 250 international nuclear security experts.  

Representatives from Japan, Uruguay, Switzerland and Zambia engaged in a panel discussion that focused on the role of IPPAS, the benefits and lessons learned.  

Boster Dearson Siwila, Head of the Radiation Protection Authority in Zambia, where the 100th IPPAS mission was recently completed, said that “the team of international experts provided recommendations which Zambia is expected to implement to enhance its nuclear security regime.” He also highlighted Zambia’s commitment to address “the various short, medium and long-term milestones in improving nuclear security, as recommended by the IAEA through IPPAS.”   

IPPAS follows a modular approach and currently offers five modules, which cover the following: a national review of the nuclear security regime for nuclear material and nuclear facilities; a review of security systems and measures at nuclear facilities; a review of the transport security for material; a review of the security of radioactive material, associated facilities and activities; and a review on information and computer security.  

The IPPAS missions have evolved over the years to address modern challenges. For example, information and computer security was added in IPPAS scope in 2012 to support countries amid growing computer security threats. A new module on nuclear material accounting and control for nuclear security purposes is planned to be added in IPPAS scope soon. 

By the end of 2023, three more IPPAS missions are scheduled to take place in Netherlands, Switzerland and the Republic of Congo. Switzerland highlighted the country’s approach and preparation on the upcoming follow up mission. “An IPPAS mission is an excellent opportunity to obtain an external view of the national nuclear security regime based on internationally recognized principles. It complements your own perspective and shows possible blind spots. It is important to view a mission as an opportunity to challenge one’s national system, but not as a grading," said Bernard Stauffer, Section Head at the Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate. “We expect additional advice in those areas where we are still working on improvements. In addition, with the inclusion of Module 4, the advice of the IPPAS team experts will be incorporated into the improvement of an ongoing programme to increase security of radioactive sources." 

During the event the  importance of effective nuclear security practices in the area of physical protection was also highlighted. With the aim to extend the benefits of IPPAS beyond the host countries to the international nuclear security community, the IAEA has maintained the IPPAS Good Practices Database since 2016. Currently the database includes 532 good practices, and all countries can have access to them through designated points of contact. A list of 100 nuclear security good practices was published recently by the IAEA. 

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