Nuclear Security

Noor Davis
March 14, 2015

Submitted as coursework for PH241, Stanford University, Winter 2015


Fig. 1: B61 Nuclear Bomb Inert Training Session. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The International Atomic Energy Agency's objective for the Nuclear Security Plan for 2014-2017 and their initiative in its entirety is to contribute to global efforts to achieve effective security wherever nuclear and other radioactive material is in use, storage (Fig. 1) and/or transport, and of associated facilities by supporting States, upon request, in their efforts to meet their national responsibilities and international obligations, to reduce risks and to respond appropriately to threats. [1]

To ensure that nuclear weapons, or other radioactive materials are safe and secure, the IAEA will:

  1. Assist States, upon request, in their efforts to establish effective and sustainable national nuclear security regimes.

  2. Serve as the focal point for strengthening international cooperation, and for coordination of nuclear security assistance given through regional and bilateral programmes and other international initiatives.

  3. Enhance global nuclear security efforts by completing international guidance in the Nuclear Security Series and, upon request, supporting its implementation by States.

  4. Encourage and assist States to adhere to relevant international instruments and support States, upon request, in their efforts to adopt implementing national legislation.

  5. Build on the progress made during the implementation of the first three Nuclear Security Plans to help States sustain and further improve their national nuclear security regimes.

The International Atomic Energy Agency

Fig. 2: The International Atomic Agency in Vienna, Austria. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Agency's activities in nuclear security date back to the 1970s when the Agency began providing ad hoc training courses in physical protection. However, after September 11th, it became clear that much more needed to be done to protect both nuclear and other radioactive material from malicious acts.

In March 2002, the Agency embarked on its first comprehensive program to combat the risk of nuclear terrorism by assisting States in strengthening their nuclear security. The first program was approved and was implemented from 2002-2005 and made major and immediate progress. The new 2014-2017 plan is the fourth to date.

In 2006, the IAEA (Fig. 2) created a Nuclear Security Series Publication of steps necessary to prevent attacks, safekeeping of weapons, and other protective measures for all countries. These publications are addressed in a multitude of languages to target numerous countries. There have been 23 publications within the series so far.

Objectives of the IAEA

To maintain a comprehensive information system that supports effective implementation of the Nuclear Security Plan by assisting the Agency in the prioritization of nuclear security improvements and in the better identification of resources required to implement the plan.

Anticipated Outcomes of the Nuclear Security Plan

  1. A secure information system that will provide the Secretariat with accurate, relevant information on a real time basis to effectively support its activities for assisting States.

  2. Comprehensive and up-to-date databases and tools that meet the needs of States.

  3. Improved cybersecurity capabilities at the State and facility level to support the prevention and detection of, and response to, information security incidents that have the potential to either directly or indirectly adversely affect nuclear safety and nuclear security.

  4. Better identification, where relevant, by States of possible improvements in their information collation and assessment systems.

  5. Enhanced tools for program evaluation and monitoring.

  6. Better awareness, where relevant, among States of nuclear security needs through the use, on a voluntary basis, of Integrated Nuclear Security Support Plans.

  7. Timely submission of reports to the Agency's Policy-Making Organs and Member States.

© Noor Davis. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] "Nuclear Security Plan 2014-2017," International Atomic Energy Agency, GOV/2013/42-GC(57)/19, August 2013.