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The International Benchmark for Nuclear Security: the IAEA Nuclear Security Series


When a country is establishing or taking steps to strengthen their national nuclear security, they look to the IAEA Nuclear Security Series (NSS) for comprehensive guidance. The NSS provides non-binding international consensus guidance on all aspects of nuclear security.

“One major way that the IAEA fulfils its central role of strengthening the nuclear security framework globally is through the publication of guidance in the IAEA Nuclear Security Series,” explained Elena Buglova, Director of the IAEA Division of Nuclear Security. “The guidance provided in the series is consistent with and helps States implement obligations under legally binding instruments, such as the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) and its Amendment.”  

From physical protection and transport security to nuclear forensics and computer security, the series is the first port of call for States seeking guidance for their national activities. In addition, its 43 publications provide the foundation for the IAEA’s nuclear security programme supporting States, including the development of Integrated Nuclear Security Support Plans (INSSPs), the conduct of national, regional and international workshops, and the design of e-learning modules.

The NSS is also the international benchmark for nuclear security used in advisory peer review missions, such as International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) and International Nuclear Security Advisory Service (INSServ) missions.

These publications complement, and are also consistent with, international nuclear security instruments such as the CPPNM and its Amendment; the Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources; the supplementary Guidance on the Import and Export of Radioactive Sources and on the Management of Disused Radioactive Sources; the United Nations Security Council resolutions 1373 and 1540; and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.

10 years of the Nuclear Security Guidance Committee (NSGC)

The IAEA establishes and maintains the Nuclear Security Series, made up of nuclear security Fundamentals, Recommendations, Implementing Guides and Technical Guidance. Following the launch of the first nuclear security guidance publication in 2006, the need fora dedicated committee of experts from IAEA member countries to support the development of the series was recognized. As such, the Nuclear Security Guidance Committee (NSGC) was established in 2012. The committee, which is in its fourth term, currently includes representatives from 60 countries.

The 21st meeting of the NSGC was held in June in Vienna, marking the 10th Anniversary of the committee. The biannual meetings of the committee are vital to support the consensus process and facilitate discussion between Member States on the publications in development, as well as proposals to revise older publications and develop new ones. 

Increasing accessibility and awareness

While many countries use the NSS publications in their original English version, the IAEA is increasing accessibility of the series by translating it into all six official Agency languages. In addition to English, the Nuclear Security Fundamentals, the Recommendations and nearly all Implementing Guides are available in Arabic, French and Spanish. Projects are currently underway to translate these into Chinese and Russian. 

The publications’ principal users are regulatory bodies and operator organizations for nuclear security as well as other relevant authorities, such as those involved in law enforcement and forensics, border control and customs and intelligence gathering. Other users include international organizations with responsibilities related to nuclear security; organizations that design, manufacture and operate nuclear facilities, and organizations involved in the use of radiation related technologies.

Aiming to increase States’ awareness of the broad range of guidance available in the NSS and about how the publications are used in practice by States and the Agency, the IAEA will soon offer a dedicated webinar on the structure and content of the NSS. Those interested in attending the webinar should register their interest by sending an email to nuclearsecurityseries@iaea.org.   

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