Nuclear safety and security1
The IAEA organized an International Conference on Topical Issues in Nuclear Installation Safety: Continuous Improvement of Nuclear Safety in a Changing World, in Beijing from 18 to 22 October 2004. Its objective was to foster an exchange of information on topical issues in nuclear safety and to develop an international consensus on the basic approaches for dealing with those issues. Throughout the year, other conferences were held to further global efforts to improve security and safety at sites housing nuclear and radioactive materials.2
Application of international safety standards
In 2004, progress continued on revision of IAEA safety standards especially filling in the remaining gaps in coverage. They are being revised in order to take account of current trends and challenges facing the nuclear industry such as deregulation, competitiveness, plant ageing and potential loss of experience. During 2004, amended transport safety requirements and ten safety guides were published.3
In March 2004, the IAEA Board of Governors approved the International Action Plan for the Development and Application of IAEA Safety Standards.4
The primary purpose of the Plan was to put into effect a strategy for enhancing the IAEA safety standards as a global reference for protecting people and the environment. In August 2004, the Director General submitted reports to the Board of Governors and the General Conference on the development and application of IAEA safety standards, including progress in implementing the Action Plan.5
In September 2004, the IAEA General Conference welcomed the Board's approval of the Action Plan and the progress since then in its implementation.6
The Action Plan pays special attention to the application of standards and the collection of information on their use.
Convention on Nuclear Safety
The Convention on Nuclear Safety7
entered into force on 24 October 1996. By the end of 2004, it had 55 Contracting Parties. The Organizational Meeting for the third Review Meeting was held from 28 to 30 September 2004 at which it was decided to establish six Country Groups for the third Review Meeting scheduled to be held from 11 to 22 April 2005.
The Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management (the Joint Convention) entered into force on 18 June 2001. By the end of 2004, the Convention had 34 Contracting Parties. The Joint Convention is the first legally-binding international treaty on safety in these areas and its aim is to achieve and maintain a consistently high level of safety in the management of spent fuel and radioactive waste. The Convention is an incentive instrument that requires Contracting Parties to submit national reports on the implementation of their obligations for "peer review" at Review Meetings of the Parties - the first meeting was held in 2003. In September, the IAEA General Conference appealed to all Member States which had not yet taken the necessary steps to become party to the Joint Convention to do so.8
Safe transport of nuclear and radioactive material
In recent years, the transport of radioactive material has become a matter of particular interest to Member States. The IAEA contribution to the worldwide efforts to ensure that radioactive material is transported safely includes safety standards and review services. The IAEA Board of Governors has periodically adopted Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material, in consultation and collaboration with competent authorities of Member States and relevant international organizations. The Transport Regulations, generally recognized as the international authoritative standards for both the national and the international transport of radioactive materials, were amended in 2003 and published in 2004.
In April, the IAEA Transport Safety Appraisal Service (TranSAS) conducted a comprehensive mission to France which paid particular attention to maritime and air transport. Japan also asked the IAEA to carry out a TranSAS mission.
In September, the IAEA General Conference welcomed the approval of the Action Plan on the Safety of Transport of Radioactive Materials by the IAEA Board of Governors in March 2004. The Action Plan was based on the results of the International Conference on the Safety of Transport of Radioactive Materials held in July 2003 and the request of the 2003 General Conference for the IAEA to develop this Action Plan.9
Nuclear security and prevention of nuclear terrorism
The events of 11 September 2001 gave rise to a thorough review of IAEA programmes related to the prevention of acts of nuclear and radiological terrorism, and resulted in the adoption of a three-year Plan of Activities for Protection Against Nuclear Terrorism in 2002. The Plan covers three lines of defence - prevention, detection, and response, supplemented with activities in support of information management and coordination. It includes advisory, evaluation and training services as well as legislative and technical support. With the end of the three-year period approaching, a new Plan was being developed in 2004 that will be presented to the Board of Governors for approval in 2005.
The pace and scope of the IAEA's nuclear security-related activities continued to accelerate and expand to provide form and focus to the needs identified through its advisory services. The IAEA, in cooperation with individual States, has been developing Integrated Nuclear Security Support Plans. These Plans will provide a structured, predictable set of activities with clear objectives and a framework for identifying and implementing activities necessary to ensure sustainability. As of August, the IAEA had prepared seven such Plans for discussion with the concerned Member States.
During 2004, the membership of the Agency's Illicit Trafficking Database (ITDB) continued to increase. Work also continued on the implementation of the Coordinated Research Project (CRP) "Improvement of Technical Measures to Detect and Respond to Illicit Trafficking of Nuclear and other Radioactive Materials." Twenty-seven research contracts and agreements were concluded with 18 Member States and provisional functional specifications to be used for detection instruments were established.10
The results of the CRP are expected to strengthen the capability of Member States to prevent, detect and respond to events of illicit trafficking by supporting them with the selection, provision and installation of equipment and related support.
The nuclear security training programme for 2004 included approximately 34 courses covering nuclear security awareness, combating illicit trafficking, detection equipment training, physical protection, and nuclear forensics as well as SSACs and inventory management systems for radioactive sources. Since September 2001, more than 50 security-related assessment missions and over 60 training events have been carried out involving IAEA Member States from every region. The IAEA has also strengthened its cooperation on nuclear security issues with other regional and international organizations, including the United Nations and its specialized agencies - Interpol, Europol, the Universal Postal Union, the World Customs Organization and the European Commission.
From 18 to 19 September, the governments of the United States and the Russian Federation, with the support of the IAEA, convened a Global Threat Reduction Initiative Partners Conference in Vienna, to address the collection and security of proliferation-attractive materials and to provide an overview of the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) announced by the United States Secretary for Energy in May 2004.
The Conference recommended that IAEA Member States work with the Agency to coordinate a mechanism to address opportunities for implementing GTRI-related projects and programmes consistent with the activities relevant to the GTRI and as approved by IAEA Member States.11
In cooperation with the Greek Atomic Energy Commission and the Olympic Games security organizations, the IAEA also helped the Greek authorities to develop and implement a high level nuclear security plan for the 2004 Summer Olympic Games.
Physical protection of nuclear material
The Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM),12
which entered into force on 8 February 1987 had 109 Parties by the end of 2004.
In 2004 the process of strengthening the CPPNM continued. In July, at the request of the Government of Austria and 24 co-sponsoring States, the Director General circulated proposed amendments to the CPPNM to all States parties which would extend the scope of the present Convention to also cover the physical protection of nuclear material used for peaceful purposes, in domestic use, storage and transport, and the physical protection of nuclear material and nuclear facilities used for peaceful purposes against sabotage. Under the terms of the CPPNM, the Director General will convene a diplomatic conference to consider the proposed amendments when requested to do so by a majority of the States parties to the CPPNM. In September, in a statement to the 48th session of the IAEA General Conference, the Director General expressed the hope that a diplomatic conference could be convened in early 2005.
The Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources (the Code) has been strengthened to take account of international concerns following the events of 11 September 2001. The IAEA published the revised Code in January 200413
after it had been approved by the Agency's Board of Governors and endorsed by its General Conference in 2003. At 31 December 2004, 70 countries had signalled their intent to follow its provisions. In 2004, the Secretariat convened an open-ended group of technical and legal experts to develop guidance on the import and export of radioactive sources in order to facilitate the implementation of the Code.
The text of the Guidance on the Import and Export of Radioactive Sources14
was approved by the Agency's Board of Governors in September 2004. The IAEA General Conference welcomed the Board's approval and endorsed the text although it was not legally-binding.15
Low Activity Radioactive Waste16
The International Symposium on Disposal of Low Activity Radioactive Waste took place in Cordoba from 13 to 17 December 2004. It was organized by the IAEA with the co-sponsorship of the French Agence nationale pour la gestion des déchets radioactifs (ANDRA) and in cooperation with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation for Development's Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA). It was hosted by the Government of Spain through the Empresa Nacional de Residuos Radiactivos, S.A. and the Consejo de Seguridad Nuclear. The Symposium dealt with policy and strategy, very low level waste, waste decommissioning, long-lived low activity waste and unique low activity waste streams.
While nuclear safety and security is considered a national responsibility first and foremost, the IAEA is promoting a Global Nuclear Safety Regime and a Global Nuclear Security Framework. These include international standards and guidelines; binding international conventions and non-binding codes of conduct; international peer reviews to evaluate national operations, capabilities and infrastructures; and an international system of emergency preparedness and response. In the safety area, IAEA activities cover nuclear installations, radioactive sources, radioactive materials during transport and radioactive waste. A core element is setting and promoting the application of international safety standards for the management and regulation of activities involving nuclear and radioactive materials. Concerning nuclear security, IAEA activities cover nuclear and radioactive materials as well as nuclear installations. The focus is on helping States prevent, detect and respond to terrorist or other malicious acts and to protect nuclear installations and transport against sabotage.
GOV/INF/2004/10-GC(48)/INF/7, available from http://www.iaea.org/ About/ Policy/GC/GC48/Documents.
GC(48)RES/10.A, available from http://www.iaea.org/About/Policy/ GC/GC48/Resolutions.
The objective of the Convention is to achieve and maintain a high level of nuclear safety worldwide through the enhancement of national measures and international cooperation, including, where appropriate, safety-related technical cooperation. The Convention obliges Parties to submit national reports on the implementation of their obligations for "peer review" at meetings of the Parties (Review Meetings). This mechanism is the main innovative and dynamic element of the Convention. The Convention is an incentive instrument. It is not designed to ensure fulfiment of obligations by Parties through control and sanction, but is based on their common interest to achieve higher levels of safety which will be developed and promoted through regular meetings of the Parties.
GC(48)RES/10.A, op.cit., p.5, para. 28.
GOV/2004/50-GC(48)/6), available from http://www.iaea.org/About/ Policy/GC/GC48/Documents.
For more information, see http://www.pub.iaea.org/mtcd/meetings /announcements.
The Convention requires Contracting Parties to ensure the protection of nuclear material used for peaceful purposes on their territories, ships or aircraft at the levels specified in the Convention during international nuclear transport. The CPPNM is the only international legally-binding undertaking in the area of physical protection of nuclear material aimed at averting potential dangers of the unlawful taking and use of nuclear material.
IAEA publication IAEA/CODEOC/2004
, January 2004, available from http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/publications.
GOV/2004/62-GC(48)/13, available from http://www.iaea.org/About/ Policy/GC/GC48/Documents.
GC(48)/Res/10.D p. 11, para. 8, 24 September 2004, see web site for IAEA resolutions in footnote 76.
Low activity radioactive waste is not an internationally agreed waste category but the term is increasingly used to describe a range of waste types, warranting consideration from economic and safety perspectives.