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Nuclear Security Series

The IAEA's Nuclear Security Series provides international consensus guidance on all aspects of nuclear security to support States as they work to fulfil their responsibility for nuclear security.

The IAEA establishes and maintains the guidance series as part of its central role in providing nuclear-security related international support and coordination.

Like nuclear safety, nuclear security aims to protect people, property, society and the environment from harmful effects of ionizing radiation. Work to deal with the risks from sources of radiation during their normal use and from possible accidents is considered work to promote nuclear safety. Nuclear security work aims to prevent, or detect and respond, to intentional malicious acts involving radioactive substances or directed against facilities or activities where such substances are used.

Nuclear or radioactive material of all types, whether in use, storage or transport, must be secured as it could be used to cause harm and disruption to society. The emergence of cyber-threats and other new technologies that might be used in attacks, or to protect against attacks, has further broadened the understanding of the need for nuclear security.

The Nuclear Security Series was launched in 2006 and is continuously updated by the IAEA in cooperation with experts from Member States. 

The series comprises four sets of publications:

  • Nuclear Security Fundamentals, which establish the fundamental objective and essential elements of a State's national nuclear security regime.
  • Recommendations, which set out measures that States should take in order to achieve and maintain an effective regime.
  • Implementing Guides, which provide guidance on how States can implement the Recommendations.
  • Technical Guidance, which provide more detailed guidance on specific methodologies and techniques for implementing security measures.

The publications' principal users are regulatory bodies for nuclear and radiation security and 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 relevant to nuclear security; organizations that design, manufacture and operate nuclear facilities; and organizations involved in the use of radiation related technologies.

Though some measures bolster both nuclear safety and security, there can be cases in which measures intended to improve safety could have a negative effect on security, or vice versa.  Both the nuclear security guidance and the IAEA’s safety standards stress that safety and security measures should be implemented in a manner that avoids compromising safety or security.

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