Rockville, Maryland, United States -- A team of nuclear security experts led by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today completed a mission to review nuclear security practices of civil nuclear facilities licensed by the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
Conducted at the U.S. Government's request, the two-week International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) mission reviewed the United States' nuclear security-related legislative and regulatory framework. As part of this work, the IPPAS team, led by John O'Dacre of Canada and comprising nine experts from eight IAEA Member States, met with NRC officials and reviewed the physical protection systems at the Center for Neutron Research (NCNR) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
The IPPAS team concluded that nuclear security within the U.S. civil nuclear sector is robust and sustainable and has been significantly enhanced in recent years. The team identified a number of good practices in the nation's nuclear security regime and at the NCNR. The IPPAS team also made a recommendation and some suggestions for the continuing improvement of nuclear security overall.
The mission in the United States was the 60th IPPAS mission organized by the IAEA.
"Independent international peer reviews such as IAEA IPPAS missions are increasingly being recognized for their value as a key component for exchanges of views and advice on nuclear security measures," said Khammar Mrabit, Director of the IAEA Office of Nuclear Security. "The good practices identified during this mission will contribute to the continuous improvements of nuclear security in other Member States."
The IPPAS team provided a draft report to the NRC and will submit a final report soon. Because it contains security-related information about a specific nuclear site, IPPAS reports are not made public.
"The IPPAS programme gives us a chance to learn from the experience and perspective of our international partners," said NRC Chairman Allison M. Macfarlane. "Together, the international community is working to strengthen nuclear security worldwide."
The mission was the 60th IPPAS mission conducted by the IAEA since the program began in 1995. The mission was the third to a Nuclear-Weapon State with a very large civil nuclear programme.
IPPAS missions are intended to help IAEA Member States strengthen their national nuclear security regimes. The missions provide, upon request, peer advice on implementing international instruments, as well as IAEA nuclear security guidance on the protection of nuclear and other radioactive material and associated facilities and activities. IPPAS missions are conducted both on a nation-wide and facility-specific basis.
The United States is an important partner in IAEA nuclear security activities and the largest national contributor to the IAEA Nuclear Security Fund. The United States also regularly contributes in kind by providing equipment and experts for missions, lecturers for training courses and contributes to the development of documents in the IAEA Nuclear Security Series.
The United States is party to the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material but has not yet ratified its 2005 Amendment. The United States also supports the Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources as well as the Guidance on the Import and Export of Radioactive Sources.