INSAG highlights links between safety and security

17 September 2019

"Though distinct topics, nuclear safety and nuclear security are interlinked, and they share the same goal: to protect people, society and the environment from hazards or threats that could arise from peaceful nuclear and radiological activities." This was the message to delegates at a forum organised by the International Nuclear Safety Group (INSAG) yesterday.

Panelists presented the results from a technical meeting on the safety-security interface held last October (Image: K Siewert / IAEA)

At the event - which took place at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) 63rd General Conference at its headquarters in Vienna - IAEA Deputy Director General Juan Carlos Lentijo said a coordinated approach to the two topics ensures that "actions taken in one field do not have negative effects on the other”.

In a statement following the forum, the IAEA said nuclear safety focuses on preventing accidents and nuclear security on providing protection against malicious acts. Actions taken to enhance safety may simultaneously strengthen security, and vice versa. The opposite can occur as well, it said, where practices in one area may have a negative impact on the other. For example, in the field of nuclear security, information is often restricted to as few people as possible, whereas nuclear safety frequently relies on transparency for better outcomes.

Gustavo Caruso, director of the IAEA Office of Safety and Security Coordination, said paying close attention to the overlap in these disciplines is paramount to understanding how nuclear safety and security can mutually complement or counteract one another.

Laercio Vinhas, chair of the IAEA Advisory Committee on Nuclear Security (AdSec), briefed participants on the outcomes of an IAEA technical meeting on the safety-security interface held in October last year. Participants in that meeting identified challenges, gaps and good practices in implementing measures on nuclear safety and security in a complementary way that enhances their effects, according to the IAEA statement.

"While it is a common goal of the Member States to address the interface between nuclear safety and security, there are a range of different approaches used to achieve this goal," Vinhas said. "These reflect the varying circumstances in different Member States, such as the nature and scale of the facilities and activities being undertaken and the nature of the national legal framework."

Participants at the technical meeting suggested that awareness about the safety-security interface be promoted, particularly in Member States where separate cultures still exist for safety and security. To ensure that safety and security measures are implemented in a harmonised manner, human resource development programmes addressing both areas jointly may be needed, along with combined staff training arrangements and exercises, Vinhas said.

A report on these technical meeting outcomes, to be published in the coming months, will be the first report in a technical series to cover both safety and security. Previously, IAEA reports on both safety and security were published separately.

In addition to the report, progress on a potential INSAG-AdSec report on the safety-security interface was presented. The report, expected to be published within the next two years, will cover developments that have occurred since the 2010 publication of an INSAG report titled The Interface Between Safety and Security at Nuclear Power Plants.

Anita Nilsson, associate fellow of international security at Chatham House, said: "While the insights from INSAG-24 remain valid, many developments have since taken place, particularly the strengthening of the international legal framework. This report will take these developments into account and broaden the scope beyond nuclear power plants to include all facilities, activities and locations where nuclear and radioactive material is used."

New parties

Multilateral treaties under IAEA auspices cover a range of subjects, particularly in strengthening nuclear safety and security globally.

At the annual Treaty Event, held during the General Conference, Bolivia, Chad, Ecuador and Lesotho deposited in the hands of Acting Director General Cornel Feruta legal instruments expressing consent to be bound by five multilateral treaties and an amendment. The event, hosted by the IAEA’s Office of Legal Affairs, aims to promote adherence to treaties concluded under the IAEA's auspices.

The focus of this year's event was on the Convention on Nuclear Safety, the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, and the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and its Amendment.

"This is an important part of our work. It is about the process to allow the exchange of views and ideas among contracting Parties on the best practices," Feruta said. "We explain to Member States the process leading to the entry into force of a legal instrument," stressing the Agency's role in assisting Member States to understand what commitments they undertake by joining a convention.

Bolivia has joined two nuclear safety treaties - the Convention on Nuclear Safety and the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management.

With Bolivia's accession, the Convention on Nuclear Safety and the Joint Convention now have, respectively, 87 and 81 parties.

Bolivia's first nuclear technology research and development centre, which will be equipped with a 200kW research reactor, is under construction and is scheduled for completion by 2022.

Chad joins deposited an instrument of accession to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and of ratification of the 2005 CPPNM Amendment. Following these treaty actions, the CPPNM has now 158 Parties, 119 of which are also parties to its 2005 Amendment.

Ecuador has acceded to the Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency and the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident. Ecuador became the 118th and 123rd  party to these conventions.

Lesotho has accepted the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the IAEA, bringing the number of parties to the agreement to 88.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News