IAEA mission finds robust security regime in Belgium

25 June 2019

Belgium's nuclear security regime is robust, an international team of experts has concluded after a two-week follow-up review led by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Tihange (Image: Electrabel)

The International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) mission, which took place from 10 to 21 June, included a review of the country's responses to recommendations from a previous mission in 2014. It evaluated the general legal and regulatory framework for the security of nuclear and other radioactive material, including the implementation of the 2005 Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM), and was broader in scope than the 2014 mission, also covering computer security and regulations for facilities holding radioactive sources.

The team saw "significant" enhancements since 2014, the IAEA said, and observed that the nuclear security regime in Belgium incorporates the fundamental principles of the amended CPPNM.

"By hosting a follow-up IPPAS mission and expanding its scope to security of radioactive sources and computer security, the government of Belgium has demonstrated a strong continuous commitment to strengthen its measures in nuclear security," Muhammad Khaliq, head of the nuclear security of materials and facilities section of the IAEA's Division of Nuclear Security, said.

The IPPAS mission, which was carried out at the request of the Belgian government, was led by Steve Skelton, principal inspector at the UK's Office for Nuclear Regulation, and included seven other experts, from Finland, France, Hungary, Lithuania, Switzerland, the USA and the IAEA. The team met with experts from Belgium's Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC), and its technical branch BelV, officials of the National Security Authority and the Coordination Unit for Threat Analysis, federal and local police, the Ministry of Defence, the Centre for Cyber Security Belgium and the National Crisis Centre.

The team provided recommendations and suggestions to support Belgium in further enhancing and sustaining nuclear security. It also identified several good practices.

FANC Director General Frank Hardeman, said: "For our country, continuous improvement, strong cooperation, and sharing good practices between all stakeholders involved, are key in striving to improve the nuclear security regime."

The IPPAS mission also visited the Tihange nuclear power plant and the SCK-CEN Nuclear Research Centre, where it focused on the implementation of physical protection measures, FANC said.

IPPAS missions are intended to assist IAEA member states in strengthening their national nuclear security regime, providing advice from peers on implementing international instruments and IAEA guidance on the protection of nuclear and other radioactive materials and facilities. They can be conducted on both a nationwide and facility-specific basis.

The mission to Belgium was the 87th conducted by the IAEA since the IPPAS programme began in 1995.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News