U.S., European Commission make joint statement on enhancing radioactive source security

May 23, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear News

During the International Atomic Energy Agency’s International Conference on Nuclear Security this week, leaders from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration and the European Commission made a joint statement on enhancing radioactive source security.

The joint statement highlighted the importance of the security of radioactive sources and the need to strengthen security to prevent the use of these materials in acts of terrorism, building upon existing U.S. and European Union programs aimed at bolstering domestic and international partner capacity for the security of radioactive sources in use, storage, and transport. The statement also supported U.S. National Security Memorandum 19 to counter weapons of mass destruction terrorism and advance nuclear and radioactive material security.

Users: Hospitals, research laboratories, and industrial facilities that use radioactive materials are all open civilian facilities and can be vulnerable to adversaries seeking to acquire radioactive sources for use in radiological dispersal devices or “dirty bombs,” the NNSA noted in a May 22 press release.

These facilities depend on local law enforcement to provide effective response in the event of an attempted radiological theft, highlighting the need to carefully plan response procedures in close coordination and cooperation with law enforcement agencies.

“The impacts of a radiological event can have consequences that transcend borders,” said Jeffrey Chamberlin, who leads the NNSA’s nonproliferation work. “This is not a problem that any single country can address alone. Together with the European Commission, NNSA strives to work collaboratively to strengthen radioactive source security.”

Principles: According to the NNSA, the joint statement aligns with principles set forth in the IAEA’s Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources and its corresponding Supplementary Guidance on Import and Export of Radioactive Sources and Management of Disused Radioactive Sources, as well as the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.

The partnership between the European Commission and the NNSA’s Office of Radiological Security (ORS) under its mission to enhance global security aligns with the European Union’s counter-terrorism agenda and commitment to radiological security, mainly involving the Directorate General for Migration and Home Affairs (DG HOME) and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (JRC).

Response exercises: The ORS and DG HOME will continue their efforts in co-organizing regional radiological security response exercises. The first such exercise was held in Iasi, Romania, last fall and was considered a success. Both ORS and DG HOME rely on the expertise of the JRC and U.S. experts for providing technical support in designing and implementing the exercises, according to the NNSA.

The next exercise will be held this December in Warsaw, Poland, with the presence of observers from neighboring countries.

The ORS’s mission is to enhance global security by preventing radioactive materials from being used in acts of terrorism. The ORS works with governments, law enforcement, and businesses around the world to protect radioactive sources used for medical, research, and commercial purposes; removes disused radioactive sources; and reduces the global reliance on radioactive sources through the promotion of non-radioisotopic alternative technologies.

Related Articles

IAEA promoting nuclear energy with G20

April 24, 2024, 7:01AMNuclear News

The International Atomic Energy Agency launched a collaboration with the Group of 20 this week to highlight the key role that nuclear energy can play in achieving energy security and...