FAQ

How are nuclear installations protected from attacks?

Answer

Nuclear security is the means and ways of preventing, detecting, and responding to theft, sabotage and unauthorized access to or illegal transfer of nuclear material and other radioactive substances, as well as their associated facilities. Prevention is the first line of defense. It includes upgrading the protection of nuclear facilities, storage and transport. If such protection fails, States need a robust second line of defense. They must be able to detect any illicit activities and to respond to any event. This includes effective border control with user friendly equipment at border crossings, training customs officials and efficient cooperation between law enforcement officials. In addition many legal instruments have been developed for protecting against terrorism: Convention on the physical protection of nuclear material, International convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism, IAEA Nuclear Security Plan which is non binding but adopted by all IAEA Member States.

Background

“The threat of nuclear terrorism is real. Individuals and groups could acquire and use nuclear or other radioactive material with malicious intent. Countries and States have national responsibilities to combat this global threat by securing vulnerable materials, combating illicit trafficking and preventing malicious acts…”
Nuclear security is the means and ways of preventing, detecting, and responding to theft, sabotage and unauthorized access to or illegal transfer of nuclear material and other radioactive substances, as well as their associated facilities…
Prevention is the first line of defense. It includes upgrading the protection of nuclear facilities, storage and transport. If such protection fails, States need a robust second line of defense. They must be able to detect any illicit activities and to respond to any event. This includes effective border control with user friendly equipment at border crossings, training customs officials and efficient cooperation between law enforcement officials. It also requires emergency procedures.
If there is a nuclear related emergency, States must be prepared and equipped to respond to any scenario. The IAEA Incident and Emergency Centre (IEC ) is on call to provide assistance. It coordinates round-the-clock specialized support and provides assistance to States in the case of an emergency, including from nuclear security incidents.
IAEA Assistance to Reduce the Risk of Nuclear Terrorism includes:
  • Accountability and control of nuclear and radioactive sources
  • Facility and transportation security upgrades
  • International legal instruments support
  • Nuclear security needs in assessment, analysis and coordination.
 
Reference: IAEA Nuclear Security Series No. 7
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