Nonproliferation
Project Note

Nuclear Security News and Member Updates Roundup, July 2021

In July, IAEA completed an IPPAS mission in Belarus, and Jill Hruby was confirmed as NNSA administrator

Dear INSF Members,

If you missed it last month, INSF Advisory Board member Chris Hobbs gave a phenomenal talk about how nuclear security has evolved in the United Kingdom. He talked about the UK’s focus on performance-based metrics, security culture, the response to COVID-19, and implementation challenges. The UK example provides important lessons for nuclear security practitioners in all countries.  I would also like to give a heartfelt congratulations to INSF Chair Laura Holgate for her nomination to represent the United States in Vienna. There is no one more qualified or who deserves the nomination more. Finally, Becca Earnhardt will be leaving the Stimson Center at the end of this week to work on her PhD prospectus. She has been an essential part of the INSF’s early success, and we are grateful for her contribution. 

Best,

Nickolas Roth

International Nuclear Security Forum

Join the conversation on Twitter: @INS_Forum

Announcements

Nuclear Security News

Global Architecture

  • IAEA Completes Nuclear Security Advisory Mission in Belarus: “The team observed that Belarus has established a nuclear security regime with essential elements from the IAEA’s guidance on the fundamentals of nuclear security. The team offered recommendations and suggestions to support Belarus in further enhancing and sustaining nuclear security. Good practices were identified that can serve as examples to other IAEA Member States to help strengthen their nuclear security activities.”
  • IAEA Breaks Ground on Training Centre to Counter Nuclear Terrorism: “The Centre will provide more than 2,000 square meters of specialized technical infrastructure and equipment. Hands-on training will be conducted on demonstration systems and virtual reality environments. These platforms will emulate security systems used at nuclear power plants, research reactors and border crossings.”
  • IAEA Held Scheduled Nuclear Material Control and Accounting System Inspection at Ukrainian NPP: “On June 16, 2021, the [IAEA] inspectors held another scheduled inspection at Rivne Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), Ukraine…The inspection took place within the framework of the Agreement between Ukraine and the IAEA for the Application of Safeguards in Connection with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons…According to the operator of Ukrainian NPPs Energoatom, all the planned work was completed on schedule, in full, and without critical comments.”

Security Culture

  • TEPCO Head Office Inspected After Security Lapses: “A team of nuclear experts have inspected the head office of Tokyo Electric Power Company [TEPCO] and interviewed its president over security breaches at one of its nuclear power plants.” “After the interview, team leader Kaneko Shuichi suggested that TEPCO may have problems in terms of how members of staff share information. He said that the utility’s president probably did not fully recognize how things stood with regard to nuclear security or had not been informed as to the details of the matter.”

Emerging Technologies

  • France Tests Laser-Powered Anti-Drone System for the 2024 Olympics: “The French military used a laser-powered canon on Wednesday [July 7] to destroy a drone in a test of technology that the government hopes will be used to protect the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.” “France plans to use the system, developed by local startup firm Cilas with public funds, to protect military bases and nuclear plants, as well as major events, against small low-flying drones that can escape radar detection.”
  • SHINE Medical Factory Comes to Dutch Town of Veendam: ‘Nuclear Reactors No Longer Needed to Make Nuclear Medicines’: “With the arrival of SHINE Medical Technologies’ particle accelerator, nuclear reactors will soon no longer be needed to make medical isotopes. The American company SHINE Medical Technologies is building a factory for medical isotopes near Veendam in the Netherlands.” “By using a particle accelerator, radioactive substances needed for cancer detection and treatment, among other things, are going to be made at the new factory.”

Weapons, Materials, and Facilities

  • Rosatom Holds a Course on Physical Protection of Nuclear Facilities for Bangladesh Army: “On July 9, 2021, Rosatom’s Technical Academy announced that representatives from the Bangladesh Army concluded a two-week training course “Physical Protection of Nuclear Facilities” at the Academy’s Global Nuclear Security and Safety Institute. During the course, Bangladeshi officers lead by Brigadier General Abdullah Al Yusuf were briefed on the structure and development of the system of physical protection of nuclear facilities, as well as the key international regulations.”
  • Statement by Energy Secretary Granholm on the Confirmation of Jill Hruby as NNSA Administrator: “The U.S. Senate confirmed Jill Hruby with a bipartisan vote of 79-16 to serve as Under Secretary for Nuclear Security, and Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).” “Jill Hruby is a mechanical engineer who joined Sandia National Laboratories as a member of the technical staff in 1983 and retired as the Laboratories Director in 2017 after a distinguished 34-year career. She was the first woman to lead a national security lab.”
  • Japan’s Plutonium Stockpile Climbs to 46.1 Tons in 2020, First Rise in 3 Years: “Japan was in possession of a total of some 46.1 metric tons of plutonium at home and abroad as of the end of 2020, the Cabinet Office reported to the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) on July 9. The amount represents an increase of about 0.6 tons from the previous year.”

Crisis and Recovery Operations

  • Rosenergoatom Confirms Success of Emergency Preparedness Exercise: “Rosenergoatom, the nuclear power plant operator subsidiary of Russia’s Rosatom, has announced the successful completion of its annual emergency preparedness exercise.” “The operator staff at the plant used full-scale simulators that can test their responses to all types of emergency situations.”
  • Russian Nuclear Sites Conducted Emergency Checks after the US Warning on Terrorist Interest in Russian Radioactive Sources: “On June 29, 2021, Rosatom issued its 2020 Annual Report. According to the report, Rosatom received a warning on the ISIS plans to acquire radioactive sources handled at Russian sites in 2020. The warning was received from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which in turn received a “non-official” document containing such a warning from the US Embassy in Moscow. Following the warning, all Russian operators of sites handling radioactive material and associated facilities conducted unscheduled self-assessment of physical protection (PP) at sites.”

Threats

  • North Korea Attempted to Hack South Korea’s Nuclear Think Tank, Lawmaker Says: “A North Korean hacker group allegedly broke into South Korea’s nuclear research center last month.” “The Korean Atomic Energy Research Institute noticed unidentified user access, penetrating its VPN system on May 14.” “Seoul-based cybersecurity firm IssueMakersLab ran an analysis on the attackers’ IP addresses and discovered that one of the three addresses traced back to the infamous hacking group Kimsuky, known for its affiliation with North Korea’s Reconnaissance General Bureau spy agency.”
  • India Arrests Alleged Uranium Traders: “Twice in the past two months, Indian authorities have arrested individuals on charges of illicit trading in uranium. The incidents have raised concerns about what appears to be a growing nuclear security risk in the region.”
  • Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction: Opportunities for DHS to Better Address Longstanding Program Challenges: “This statement describes our [Government Accountability Office] 2016 work related to the CWMD office formation and findings from our past reports on CWMD programs from 2009 through May 2021.” “GAO observed that significant challenges remained at the CWMD office—such as low employee morale and questions about program efficacy. GAO has ongoing work evaluating these issues and plans to issue a report in early 2022.”
  • How Safe is the U.S. President’s ‘Nuclear Football’? Pentagon Watchdog to Find Out: “The Pentagon’s watchdog said on Tuesday it would evaluate the safety protocols surrounding the president’s “nuclear football” – containing codes needed for a strike – after one such briefcase nearly came within range of rioters storming the Capitol on Jan. 6.”

Member Organization Announcements and Updates

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

The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI)

  • NTI has partnered with the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Prefectures on a campaign called Cranes for Our Future as a way to raise awareness and engage people and organizations to support the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. Learn more about the campaign.

The Union of Concerned Scientists

  • Edwin Lyman published an op-ed ‘It’s time to cancel the Versatile Test Reactor’ in the Hill. Read the article.

The World Institute for Nuclear Security (WINS)

  • Álvaro Acevedo discusses the security challenges facing advanced reactors and the work being carried out by the World Institute for Nuclear Security. Read the summary of the report.
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