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Response to malicious acts involving nuclear and other radioactive material

States should possess effective capabilities to respond to acts of nuclear and radiological terrorism. The Agency assists Member States in the fortifying these capabilities through training and technical support, and the development of guidelines and recommendations.


The response-related training programme includes courses and workshops on various aspects of emergency preparedness and response, including response to radiological emergencies, medical preparedness, emergency monitoring, and technical assessment of emergencies at reactor facilities.

During 2005 and 2006, a new workshop on ‘response’ to acts of illicit trafficking was organized in cooperation with the EU Joint Research Centre in Germany. The workshop includes nuclear forensic topics such as the verification of alarms and characterization of nuclear and other radioactive material, methods to categorize the material and the preservation of forensic evidence, and the conduct of investigation when nuclear or other radioactive material is detected in trafficking.

Technical Support

The IAEA document 'Nuclear Forensics Support', part of the Nuclear Security Series, describes the tools and procedures for nuclear forensic investigations. The guidelines incorporate a decade or more of experience in dealing with illicit trafficking events accumulated by law enforcement agencies and nuclear forensics laboratories.

In response to requests for assistance, the Agency also performs response missions to Member States. During these missions, the security of dangerous radioactive sources is evaluated, which results in advice on improvements, the initiation of improved physical protection of some of the sources, and the development of an agenda for further upgrading of relevant security arrangements. In particular, a key facet of a International Nuclear Security Advisory Service (INSServ) mission is to evaluate States’ capabilities to combat illicit trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive materials. The International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) reviews a country’s system of physical protection of its nuclear and other radioactive material and nuclear facilities

Security at major events

The organization of a major public events – such as a sports, political or religious gathering – involving large numbers of spectators and participants, presents important security challenges for any State. Malevolent acts involving the use of nuclear and other radioactive material at such events could result in severe consequences, depending upon the nature and quantity of the material, the location and the number of people involved. The IAEA assists States in the development of an infrastructure for the implementation of nuclear security at such events.

Emergency response

The Agency’s ability to assist States in responding to events, whether caused by an accident or a terrorist or criminal act, was further enhanced by the establishment of an Incident and Emergency Centre (IEC). The centre is equipped with enhanced functional arrangements and technological capabilities and provides 24/7 cover.

| Last update: Tuesday, 09 December, 2014.