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The IAEA International Conference on Nuclear Security 2020: A Preview

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Cornel Feruta, IAEA Acting Director General delivers his opening remarks at the International Conference on Nuclear Security (ICONS) 2020, a Nuclear Security Side Event at the IAEA 63rd General Conference. IAEA, Vienna, Austria. 16 September 2019. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

Next year’s International Conference on Nuclear Security (ICONS) will be key to ongoing efforts to strengthen nuclear security globally, said participants in a panel discussion held on the sidelines of the recent IAEA General Conference.

The 10-14 February 2020 ministerial-level conference follows earlier high-level conferences held in 2016 and 2013.

“ICONS 2020 is a step in a continuous cycle to maintain focus on nuclear security worldwide,” IAEA Acting Director General Cornel Feruta said. “This conference is the most inclusive mechanism we have for all Member States to share their perspectives, challenges, and achievements; and for all of us to problem-solve together.”

In a preview of the conference’s review of nuclear security progress, representatives of Egypt and Panama highlighted the benefits of integrating nuclear security systems and measures in the early stages of projects such as research reactor development and public events that draw large crowds.

“With the Agency’s assistance, Egypt installed security systems and physical protection upgrades at the country’s two research reactors. We are looking forward to the successful conclusion of the Agency’s second phase project, which will provide further support to Egypt in enhancing physical protection,” said Ambassador Omar Amer Youssef, Egypt’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Vienna.

A high-level policy discussion at ICONS 2020 will focus on international legally and non-legally binding instruments for nuclear security. At the General Conference side event, representatives of Bulgaria, Russia and the United States encouraged universal adherence to the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material as amended, and of the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.

More than 640 papers from 85 Member States and 10 international organizations have been submitted for the conference. More than 320 students and young professionals have submitted entries in an essay competition.

ICONS 2020 Co-President Luis Eduardo Pabon Chevalier, Charge d’Affaires of Panama in Vienna said the submissions formed a solid basis for a successful conference.

“The high-level commitment will help translate the brilliant ideas that we have seen in the paper and essay submission into concrete actions for stronger nuclear security,” he said at the side event.

The conference, to be held in Vienna, will include a ministerial segment, high-level policy discussions and parallel tracks of technical sessions. Its outcome, including an expected ministerial declaration will influence global efforts to strengthen nuclear security, including by informing the IAEA’s Nuclear Security Plan for 2022 to 2025.

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