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IAEA Mission to Cambodia Finds Progress in Nuclear Security Arrangements, Encourages Continued Improvement

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Members of the INSServ team visited the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port during the IAEA mission to Cambodia. (Photo: IAEA)

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) completed an advisory service mission to Cambodia focused on assessing the country's nuclear security regime for nuclear and other radioactive material out of regulatory control (MORC). The team said the country has implemented measures to detect and respond to criminal or intentional unauthorized acts involving such material and encouraged Cambodia to further improve its legal and regulatory framework. The team also identified several examples of good practice.

The mission, carried out at the request of the Royal Government of Cambodia, took place from 11 to 22 December and involved a team of nine international experts from Finland, Hungary, Japan, Morocco, Pakistan, the United States of America, Viet Nam and the IAEA. It is the second mission of this kind to Cambodia.

International Nuclear Security Advisory Service (INSServ) missions aim to help States to better prevent, detect and respond to criminal and intentional unauthorized acts involving nuclear or other radioactive material, known as MORC, which is lost, missing, stolen, improperly disposed of, or not adequately stored or handled.

The mission aimed to review the current state of nuclear security in relation to MORC in Cambodia and provide recommendations on how to strengthen it in accordance with international guidance and best practices.

The team conducted a series of meetings with officials from the Ministry of Mines and Energy, the General Department of Customs and Excise, the Secretariat of the National Counter Terrorism Committee, and the National Authority for the Prohibition of Chemical, Nuclear, Biological and Radiological Weapons (NACW).

The INSServ team visited the Phnom Penh Autonomous Port (PPAP), the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port (PAS) and the Phnom Penh International Airport (PPIA) to assess the detection and response measures in place. The team also went to the NACW Institute of Explore and Experiment on Substance in Kampong Chhnang Province.

"Cambodia established a solid basis for a comprehensive nuclear security regime, " said Team Leader Khammar Mrabit, former Director General of the Moroccan Agency for Nuclear and Radiological Safety and Security and member of the Moroccan Parliament. "We welcome Cambodia's cooperation in this mission and hope our recommendations and suggestions will be helpful for further improvements."

The team said that Cambodia had implemented many elements of a legal and regulatory framework related to MORC. Still, it recommended the country to establish a national nuclear law and ratify the Amendment of the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. Further recommendations include the establishment of national infrastructure to support sustainable training to enhance Cambodia's existing detection and response capabilities.

Several good practices were identified, including the categorization of offences in the country’s legal framework,  the radiation detection scan of all import and export cargo containers at PPAP and PAS, the use of the IAEA mobile app TRACE (Tool for Radiation Alarm and Commodity Evaluation), as well as the establishment of knowledge management and professional development measures for the staff with nuclear security detection responsibilities.

"We are ready to provide continued support to Cambodia as they implement the IAEA INSServ mission recommendations and suggestions to enhance the nuclear security detection and response systems and measures relevant to MORC," said Elena Buglova, Director of the IAEA Division of Nuclear Security.

The IAEA's INSServ mission is part of its ongoing efforts to assist Member States in strengthening their nuclear security regimes in relation to MORC. The Agency provides a range of services in this area, including expert advice, training, and equipment support, to help Member States protect against criminal or intentional unauthorized acts involving such materials.

"This second INSServ mission will assist us in the upgrade of Cambodia's nuclear security regime by taking into account the international practice and expertise," said Keo Rottanak, Minister of Mines and Energy. "We firmly believe that no single nation can address the complex challenges of nuclear security in isolation. A secure world starts by cooperation of all countries, relevant agencies and individuals.”

The draft findings and recommendations were presented to the Royal Government of Cambodia, and the final report will be presented in about three months.


The mission was the 86th INSServ mission conducted by the IAEA since the programme began in 2006.

INSServ missions, based on the INSServ guidelines published in 2019, assist States in establishing, maintaining and strengthening their nuclear security regime related to nuclear and other radioactive material out of regulatory control.

The missions provide independent advice on implementing international instruments, along with IAEA guidance on the prevention and detection of and response to criminal and intentional unauthorized acts involving nuclear and other radioactive material out of regulatory control.

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