Detection of illicit trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive materials
If prevention fails, States need a robust second line of defence in place. In other words, they must have effective capabilities to detect and intercept unauthorized movement of nuclear and other radioactive materials both at borders and within States.
To strengthen this second line of defence, the IAEA offers evaluation and advisory services, education and training, new and improved methodologies, and technical advice and support.
Assessing nuclear security needs
The evaluation of States’ capabilities to combat illicit trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive materials constitutes an integral part of the International Nuclear Security Advisory Service (INSServ). The Agency also conducts evaluation missions to assess present capabilities at States’ borders to detect and respond to illicit trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive materials. These missions result in specific recommendations aimed at strengthening border detection capabilities.
Awareness and training
Education and training are fundamental to the Agency’s activities related to detection of unauthorized activities involving nuclear and other radioactive materials. The Agency’s training strategy is implemented at three layers:
- Regional awareness seminars to combat illicit trafficking
- Regional focused training on methodologies and practices to detect nuclear and other radioactive materials in illicit trafficking
- Specific training in using detection equipment. In cooperation with the Austrian Research Center, the Agency supports customs and other “front line” officers in their familiarization with detection and identification instruments by conducting two week-long intensive training sessions
It is recognized that many States lack the necessary technical capabilities to detect unauthorized movement of nuclear and other radioactive materials. Through nuclear security and technical cooperation programmes, the Agency provides States, to a limited extent, with equipment for detection of smuggling of radioactive substances at borders. The IAEA also facilitates provision of such equipment through the bilateral support programmes.
The IAEA document 'Technical and Functional Specifications for Border Monitoring Equipment', part of the Nuclear Security Series, provides Member States and equipment manufacturers with guidance on design, testing, qualifying and purchasing of radiation monitoring equipment for use at borders.
The Agency has also established a small Nuclear Security Equipment Laboratory (NSEL) at its Vienna headquarters. The detection instruments, which are provided to Member States through Agency programmes, are tested before delivery in the NSEL. The NSEL also maintains a full set of equipment for training on detection and response.
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