The history of nuclear security has been described as an example of “punctuated equilibrium” -- long periods of inaction and complacency followed by events that catalyze action. U.S. history is rife with examples where the discovery of vulnerabilities or major incidents led agencies to strengthen nuclear security requirements. Read more about A Pivotal Year for Nuclear Security?
More than a decade after its nuclear security recommendations first recognized the threat insiders pose to nuclear facilities, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has finally released its guide on nuclear material control and accounting for nuclear security. (This has been in the works for years.) Many people wrongly think that any material under international safeguards has accounting and control good enough for security purposes as well, but there are important differences.
Two weeks ago, 330 attendees from over 86 member states and several international organizations convened for the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) International Conference on Advances in Nuclear Forensics, a three-day meeting in Vienna, Austria. Nuclear forensics seeks to identify the history and origin of nuclear material, by looking, as the IAEA puts it, at “the properties of the nuclear or other radioactive material through physical, chemical, elemental, and isotopic analysis, including major, minor, and trace constituents.” Once a given sample of material is characterized, the information can be interpreted by comparing it with other existing or known materials elsewhere. Read more about IAEA Conference on Advances in Nuclear Forensics
By Jonas Siegel Like its predecessor summits, the recently concluded Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague acknowledged the role that nuclear material accounting can play in securing materials from unauthorized use. The emphasis of this and past initiatives, however, has been on improving national laws and regulations—and primarily in states without nuclear weapons. States have yet to develop comprehensive requirements that address the full scope of nuclear risks and that are meant to be adopted by all states—including nuclear weapons states. Read more about How Nuclear Material Accounting Can Contribute to Nuclear Security