Nonproliferation
Project Note

Nuclear Security News and Member Updates Roundup, April 2021

In April, the nuclear security community reflects on the fifth anniversary of the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit and the growing threat of violent extremism in government

This past month marks the fifth anniversary of the last nuclear security summit. This is an opportunity to reflect on what was accomplished, what commitments remain unfulfilled, and what new initiatives are needed to strengthen international nuclear security. The nuclear security summit process was a high point for multilateral progress to strengthen nuclear security, with dozens of world leaders focused on the effort. We are now in a new era of nuclear security where high-level attention has waned, momentum behind strengthening nuclear security has diminished, the drumbeat toward great power competition is reaching its crescendo, and new threats are emerging. Our community played a critical role during the summit period. Given the challenges we now face, our role as advocates, analysts, and collaborators is even more important. We are proud to be able to support you in this effort.

Announcements

  • Kenneth Myers joins the Advisory Board: Kenneth Myers is the President of CRDF Global. Prior to that, he was longest serving Director of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and U.S. Strategic Command Center for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction. From 2003 to 2009, Myers served as a Senior Professional Staff Member on the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

Nuclear Security News

International Architecture

  • Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office: The G7 Non-Proliferation Directors Group published a statement on April 19 that included support for strengthening nuclear security cooperation to reduce the risk of nuclear terrorism.
  • International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA): “The recently issued “Nuclear Safety and Nuclear Security Interface: Approaches and National Experiences” publication summarizes Member States’ experiences in and approaches to addressing the effective management of the interface between nuclear safety and nuclear security for facilities and activities.”
  • IAEA: “[A] two-week virtual workshop hosted by the IAEA in March for Latin American IAEA Member States [was] a first of its kind to combine safety and security, [and] facilitated the development, establishment and maintenance of integrated management systems (IMS) for regulatory bodies, aligned with IAEA safety standards and nuclear security guidance.”
  • IAEA: “Strengthening the security of nuclear and other radioactive material in transport, and developing practical skills for planning, conducting and evaluating transport security exercises was the focus of a recent IAEA workshop held in Romania…The four day workshop included classroom presentations and field demonstrations, as well as a virtual exercise in which participants watched a simulated event involving an attempted malicious interception of a vehicle transporting a radioactive source, and practiced evaluating the situation and developing an appropriate course of action.”

Security Culture

  • U.S. Government Accountability Office: “The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has found that NNSA and DOE do not meet all EEOC requirements relevant to preventing and responding to sexual harassment.” Table 2 from the report, pictured below, demonstrates the lack of gender diversity in the NNSA security forces responsible for securing weapons-grade nuclear material.
  • Daily Mail: A Muslim nuclear plant worker has won a religious discrimination claim. Engineer Mo Master was quizzed by officers at his home after colleagues began to suspect him of holding ‘extremist Islamic views’. Read the Employment Tribunal case details.

Minimization and Reduction

  • The Atlantic: David Frum reflects on the elimination of the last stock of weapons-grade uranium in Kazakhstan.

Emerging Technologies

  • Nuclear Engineering International: “An IAEA-developed system employing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)…equipped with radiation detectors, cameras and GPS devices has been tested and validated under real conditions in Fukushima and is now available for use in routine or emergency situations.”
  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission: “The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is requesting public comment on the current state of commercial nuclear power operations relative to the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) tools. Submit comments by May 21, 2021. Comments received after this date will be considered if it is practical to do so, but the Commission is able to ensure consideration only for comments received on or before this date.”

Weapons, Materials, and Facilities

  • Kyodo News: “Japan’s nuclear regulatory body decided Wednesday to effectively ban Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. from restarting a nuclear plant on the Sea of Japan coast for around a year and a half after the complex was found to have serious safety flaws.”
  • Nuclear Engineering International: “Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) said on 7 April that it will accept a penalty imposed by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) over inadequate anti-terrorism measures at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture…The authority gave the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant’s nuclear security a “red” rating, meaning its management had deteriorated to levels that could allow intruders.”
  • Homeland Preparedness News: “National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Acting Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Kasia Mendelsohn met virtually with the Sudanese Nuclear and Radiological Regulatory Authority on [April 15] to discuss Sudan’s efforts to effectively and safely regulate that country’s use of nuclear technology for medicine and human health; scientific research and education; agricultural, environmental, and industrial applications; and energy.”
  • Dhaka Tribune: “The engineering division of Rosatom State Corporation has started administering vaccines to its employees at overseas construction sites to protect them from Covid-19. “
  • Associated Press: “A German company has found dangerous nuclear material stored in an oil facility in southern Lebanon, officials said [late March]. The material has been stored at the Zahrani Oil Installation that is about 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of Beirut.”
  • BIA News Desk: “Ahmet Akın, the Vice Chair of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), has announced that no emergency drill was conducted at the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant in Turkey’s Mediterranean province of Mersin this year due to the COVID-19 outbreak.”
  • War on the Rocks: “…if the new digital systems integrated into U.S. nuclear weapons are not more stringently protected from escalating cyber threats, or if added automation cannot be trusted, the high confidence that U.S. leaders place in nuclear weapons systems could erode, undermining nuclear deterrence and, potentially, strategic stability.”
  • World Nuclear News: “A major renovation project has been completed at TRIGA International’s fuel fabrication facility in Romans-sur-Isère, southeastern France. The facility is the only supplier of uranium-zirconium hydride fuel for use in TRIGA-type research reactors. The upgrades will ensure the continued operation of 36 such reactors around the world.”
  • Reuters: “It is very unlikely that Russia’s Rosatom will take part in building a new nuclear power station in the Czech Republic or even take part in a security review preceding a tender, Czech Industry Minister Karel Havlicek said on Sunday. The Czech Republic expelled 18 Russian embassy staff on Saturday and said it suspected Russian intelligence services were involved in an ammunitions depot explosion in 2014.”

Crisis and Recovery Operations

  • Nippon: “The Fukushima Daini Nuclear Power Plant lies a mere 12 kilometers from its sister plant, Fukushima Daiichi. While the Fukushima Daini plant also sustained serious tsunami damage, workers were able to bring its reactors to cold shutdown, thereby averting a calamity. As Japan marks the tenth anniversary of the East Japan earthquake and tsunami, we look back at how Fukushima Daini managed to avoid disaster.”

Threats

  • WKYC: “A 33-year-old man from Adrian, Michigan, has been arrested for his alleged role in a “law enforcement situation” that took place at the Nuclear Power Plant in Lake County on Wednesday. The Lake County Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday morning that Michael Fogelsong was booked into the Lake County Jail on charges of making false alarms (a third-degree felony) and aggravated trespass (a first-degree misdemeanor). Additional charges may follow pending an investigation, authorities said.”
  • CSIS: “U.S. active-duty military personnel and reservists have participated in a growing number of domestic terrorist plots and attacks, according to new data from CSIS.”
  • U.S. Department of Defense: Secretary of Defense General Lloyd Austin has directed the Department of Defense (DoD) to establish the Countering Extremism Working Group (CEWG), which has been charged with reviewing and updating the DoD definition of extremism, updating the service member transition checklists for individuals retiring from military service, review and standardization of screening questionnaires, and commission a study on extremism in the DoD.
  • Military.com: “The Defense Department plans to add questions about current or past extremist behavior to screening questionnaires given to troops during the accession process, part of an effort to eliminate radicalism from the ranks. And recruits who provide demonstrably false answers to the questions could find themselves subject to punishment for fraudulent enlistment, according to a Friday memo signed by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.”
  • The New York Times: “The Department of Homeland Security will undergo an internal review to root out white supremacy and extremism in its ranks as part of a larger effort to combat extremist ideology in the federal government, officials said on [April 26]. As part of the review, senior officials will establish an internal process for agents who are found to be associated with extremist groups or who espouse those beliefs online or while on duty.”
  • Office of the Director of National Intelligence: In its latest Annual Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community, the ODNI “assess[es] that Russia will remain the largest and most capable WMD rival to the United States for the foreseeable future as it expands and modernizes its nuclear weapons capabilities and increases the capabilities of its strategic and nonstrategic weapons. Russia also remains a nuclear-material security concern, despite improvements to physical security at Russian nuclear sites since the 1990s.”

Membership Announcements, Upcoming Events, and Updates

Upcoming Events

“Insider Threats to Nuclear and Radiological Materials” on May 5, 10:00AM-11:00AM (BST) hosted by The Centre of Science and Security Studies (CSSS) at King’s College London. Register for the event prior to May 4, 1:00PM (BST). Please contact Isabel Lucio (isabel.luc[email protected]) with any queries.

“Sustainable Use of Nuclear Technology in Industrial Applications and Food Safety” on May 12, 2:00PM-4:30PM (CEST) hosted by the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-proliferation. Register for the event. Please contact [email protected] with any queries.

Updates

The Centre of Science and Security Studies (CSSS) at King’s College London

The Stimson Center

Nuclear Security Program:
  • Program Director Nick Roth gave a talk on “Far-Right Extremism and Nuclear Terrorism” at American University on April 14.
Partnerships in Proliferation Prevention Program (PPP):
  • PPP is starting a new project to develop a searchable, online database of national legal frameworks for securing radioactive materials, RadSecLEXIS, funded by U.S. Department of Energy through Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
  • Program Director Rick Cupitt attended the U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicines Committee third meeting exploring issues raised in the “Laying the Foundation for New and Advanced Reactors in the United States” study that focused on lessons learned in new reactor and megaproject construction. Watch recordings of the open sessions.

James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS)

  • CNS Scientist-in-Residence Dr. George Moore published an article “Sweeping Changes in Drone Regulations …” in the May 2021 issue of Plane & Pilot magazine. The article reviews new Federal Aviation Administration regulations that now allow drones to fly at night and over people under varying circumstances. The significant impacts on drone operators and safety of operations are analyzed in the article. For a copy of the article please contact George at [email protected]
  • On March 31, CNS Senior Fellow Miles Pomper presented a draft report on the minimization of civil highly enriched uranium (HEU) to the Global Partnership Nuclear and Radiological Security Working Group. The report, co-authored by Ferenc Dalnoki Veress, Margarita Kalinina-Pohl, and Artem Lazarev, offers recommendations for speeding the elimination of HEU used for civilian purposes. For a copy of the report, please contact [email protected].
  • CNS published a report recognizing the contribution of CNS and VCDNP women in WMD nonproliferation, including the nuclear security field. Initiatives and programs featured in are all designed to advance the role of women in nonproliferation globally. These initiatives empower young women to become the next generation of nonproliferation experts through access to training and education, professional networks, and by providing them with the tools to amplify their voices.

The Nuclear Threat Initiative

  • Global Dialogue on Nuclear Security Priorities Convenes to Discuss Review Conference Preparation and More: “Led by acting program lead Samantha Neakrase, NTI welcomed more than 70 participants from twenty countries to a virtual meeting of the Global Dialogue on Nuclear Security Priorities in March. This was the 13th meeting since the first Global Dialogue convened in 2012. At the meeting, participants discussed national preparations for the amended Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials (A/CPPNM) Review Conference preparations, which will be held in 2022; IAEA nuclear security priorities; and lessons learned from the impact of COVID-19 on nuclear security. Participants included representatives from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), the United Nations (UN), and other industry and nongovernmental entities.”
  • A Call to Action on the Fifth Anniversary of the Final Nuclear Security Summit: Material Risk Management Senior Director Scott Roecker reflects on progress and obstacles faced in strengthening nuclear security since the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit.

Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP)

  • March 2021 Online Short Course on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament: Twice a year the VCDNP conducts a Short Course on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, which includes sessions related to nuclear security. In the latest (virtual) edition of the course in March 2021, the VCDNP welcomed 37 participants from government agencies, embassies and permanent missions, as well as academic institutions from 33 countries. The course featured a lecture on Nuclear Security and Prevention of Nuclear Terrorism and another one on Nuclear Security and Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Technology.
  • The Contribution of Innovative Technologies to Sustainable Agriculture Representatives: On April 1, the VCDNP held a virtual workshop on the contribution of innovative nuclear technology to sustainable agriculture development. The webinar explored experiences from Peru, Bangladesh and Japan on the how the secure, safe and sustainable use of radiation for plant mutation breeding had improved crop production and the livelihoods of farmers across the globe. The webinar was based on the findings of the VCDNP case study, published in 2020.
  • Amendment to CPPNM: States Parties’ Challenges and Lessons Learned: On 14 April 2021, VCDNP Research Associate Artem Lazarev spoke at the African Regional Workshop on the Amended Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material organized by the Nuclear Threat Initiative and the African Center for Science and International Security. Mr. Lazarev presented the preliminary results of a VCDNP study, funded by the International Science and Technology Center, that explores the impact of the implementation of the Amendment on States Parties. The study is based on a questionnaire developed by the VCDNP, which has been completed by 28 States Parties to the Amendment. In his remarks, Mr. Lazarev discussed challenges and lessons learned from the questionnaire.
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