By Debra Decker and Kathryn Rauhut:
The Challenge: As global energy demands grow in parallel with concerns over climate change and energy security, States are looking to nuclear power to satisfy their baseload electricity needs and reduce their reliance on carbon fuels. Given the increasing terrorism threat and the potentially high consequences from nuclear incidents, comprehensive security measures are especially important for this critical infrastructure. However, operators are faced with implementing complex and sometimes conflicting guidelines for security and safety developed with limited industry input. In addition, international oversight mechanisms are insufficient, and national oversight through domestic nuclear regulators is challenged by differing levels of experience and conflicting cultural norms.
An Opportunity: After the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit, a framework will be needed to sustain momentum toward improved nuclear security. The imperatives for nuclear security and safety already exist in treaties, conventions, and UN Security Council resolutions; however, the details of how to implement the agreements often pose dilemmas. With the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material likely to enter into force in 2016, and States looking for guidance on complying with its principles, the global community now has an opportunity to support a new framework of multistakeholder engagement to develop voluntary performance standards and to include industry in their development. Such standards could be used to demonstrate compliance with internationally agreed-upon principles. Financial and nonfinancial incentives could be structured to motivate voluntary compliance with these standards so that security can become a valuable commodity instead of an add-on cost. A real public-private partnership for nuclear security can be established.