Policy Paper

IAEA Nuclear Security Recommendations (INFCIRC/225): The Next Generation

A review of changes in the nuclear security environment and recommendations on how to build upon existing IAEA nuclear security recommendations
By Nickolas Roth Co-Author
  • July 29, 2020

In 2011, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released the fifth revision of its Nuclear Security Recommendations on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities. This update of IAEA nuclear security guidance was a significant improvement upon its predecessors, suggesting new and strengthened approaches to nuclear security in a range of areas. For the first time, it recommended protecting digital systems used for physical protection, nuclear safety, and nuclear material accountancy and control against cyber-attack; protecting against insider threats; prioritizing security culture within organizations involved in implementing physical protection; conducting regular force-on-force exercises as part of performance testing; and establishing programs to ensure that physical protection regimes are sustained over time. These recommendations represented a significant evolution in the international consensus on nuclear security.

Nearly a decade later, however, the global nuclear security landscape has changed. Nuclear security regulations and practices have improved. International institutions and norms supporting global nuclear security architecture are stronger. Countries have made new political commitments to strengthening their nuclear security. Legally binding agreements are more widely subscribed than they were before. Meanwhile, new global threats have surfaced, presenting new challenges to physical protection systems. A range of emerging technologies creates new opportunities, but also new risks.

In light of these evolving conditions, and to benchmark against security improvements in the non- nuclear realm, the IAEA nuclear security recommendations published nearly a decade ago should be updated. This paper will review changes in the nuclear security environment—including evaluations of consensus around physical protection practices, international agreements, and threats—since INFCIRC/225/Rev. 5 was published. It will then make recommendations for how to build upon existing IAEA nuclear security recommendations in a sixth revision of INFCIRC/225.

Co-Authors include, Matthew Bunn, AMB Laura S. H. Holgate, Dmitry Kovchegin, and William H. Tobey

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