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Radioactive Source Security Working Group to Help Improve Security Programmes for Member States


Sealed radioactive sources are used widely in medicine, industry and agriculture. (Photo: Oak Ridge, USA).

Improving the security of sealed radioactive sources used in health care, industry and research remains a key issue for Member States given that close to 3000 incidents of theft, loss and unauthorized possession and activities of radioactive material were reported between 1995 and 2015. These sealed radioactive sources could potentially be used by terrorists to make a dirty bomb, a weapon that combines radioactive material with conventional explosives. 

Over 100 participants from 60 IAEA Member States and two non-governmental organizations met at IAEA headquarters in Vienna late last month to share experiences and discuss technical solutions for improving national nuclear security regimes for radioactive material and associated facilities.

A key topic at the fifth annual meeting of the Working Group on Radioactive Source Security was to find ways to support Member States working on strengthening their nuclear security regimes. Such support extends to the development of regulatory requirements for nuclear security and the implementation of security measures to protect sealed radioactive sources in use, during transport and also when the sealed radioactive sources become disused and have to be stored or further managed.

“This year’s forum focused mainly on regulatory functions, which can be particularly helpful for Member States with less robust programmes,” said Christina George, IAEA Nuclear Security Officer and Scientific Secretary of the Working Group.

Last week’s meeting also provided a platform for regional discussions. “Nuclear security programmes in South East Asia have greatly benefited over the years due in part to the support and guidance from more experienced IAEA Member States,” said Julietta E. Seguis, Head of Nuclear Safeguards and Security at the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute.

Seguis said she was able to compare notes with her colleagues from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, discussing news ways to further strengthen cooperation.

The fifth meeting of the Working Group on Radioactive Source Security took place on 18-21 April 2016.

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