Nonproliferation
Project Note

Nuclear Security News and Member Updates Roundup, May 2021

In May, Presidents Biden and Moon discussed nuclear security, and uranium smuggling exposed in India.

Dear INSF Members,

This month, after a summit between the United States and the Republic of Korea, President Biden and President Moon released a Joint Statement reaffirming “that close coordination on all matters related to global nonproliferation and safe, secure, and safeguarded uses of nuclear technology remain key characteristics of the alliance.” This statement, along with the Biden administration’s statement on nuclear security at the Munich Security Conference signal renewed U.S. interest in strengthening nuclear security around the world. The Joint Statement reinforces the importance of high-level engagement and bilateral cooperation to reduce the risk of nuclear terrorism across the globe. It is also a reminder of the important role both countries have played in strengthening nuclear security. 

Best,

Nickolas Roth and Becca Earnhardt

International Nuclear Security Forum

Join the conversation on Twitter: @INS_Forum

Announcements

Nuclear Security News

International Architecture 

Security Culture

  • CRP Success Story: Development of Nuclear Security Culture Enhancement Solutions (J02007): Officials from the IAEA Department of Nuclear Safety and Security reflect on the success of the Nuclear Security Culture Programme Coordinated Research Project (CRP). “The CRP was targeted at relevant authorities, operators of nuclear facilities and those dealing with radioactive material, such as hospital staff, industrial users and transportation staff. It offered an opportunity for participants from 10 institutions across nine countries to share knowledge and experience, and learn specific examples of good practices.”

Emerging Technologies

  • Rapid Imaging of Special Nuclear Materials for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Terrorism Prevention: “[Researchers introduced] a neutron-gamma emission tomography (NGET) technique for rapid detection, three-dimensional imaging, and characterization of special nuclear materials like weapons-grade plutonium and uranium.” “This imaging modality addresses global security threats from terrorism and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. It also provides enhanced capabilities for addressing different nuclear accident scenarios and for environmental radiological surveying.”
  • Russia Continues Testing Accident Tolerant Fuels: “”Russia’s AA Bochvar Research Institute of Inorganic Materials (VNIINM – part of Rosatom’s Fuel Company TVEL) said on 29 April that by the end of the year it plans to complete the third cycle of irradiation of experimental accident tolerant fuel assemblies.”

Weapons, Materials, and Facilities

  • Another Security Breach at TEPCO Nuclear Plant Uncovered: “A further case of unauthorized access at a nuclear power plant on the Sea of Japan coast run by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. occurred in 2015, it was revealed Sunday. The operator of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant has admitted to Kyodo News that a worker mistakenly used the identification card of his father, who was working at the same facility, in the morning of Aug. 21 of that year and was about to enter a protected area near its Nos. 6 and 7 reactors.” 
  • Discussion Paper DIS-21-02: Proposals to Amend the Nuclear Security Regulations: The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is seeking public comment on “amendments to the Nuclear Security Regulations (NSR). The proposed changes to the NSR will take a performance objectives-based approach to regulating nuclear security by affording licensees greater flexibility in the measures and approaches they can use to meet the nuclear security regulatory requirements.” The proposed changes cover the following areas: innovation and technological advances; cyber security; and alignment with international obligations and best practices.
  • SHINE Selects Dutch Site for European Production Plant: “SHINE Medical Technologies of the USA has selected the municipality of Veendam in the province of Groningen, the Netherlands, as the location of its European medical isotope production facility.” “SHINE’s European facility will be focused initially on the production of molybdenum-99 (Mo-99).”
  • Karachi Unit 2 Inaugurated by Pakistan PM: “Speaking from Islamabad by videolink in a ceremony that also marked the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Pakistan and China, Khan said the plant’s 1100 MW of clean energy would “almost double” Pakistan’s nuclear power generation. Karachi unit 3 – which like unit 2 is also an 1100 MW Hualong One unit supplied by China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) – is expected to generate electricity early next year, he said. The Karachi units are the first exports of the Hualong One, which is promoted on the international market as HPR1000.”
  • Russia’s Rosatom Develops Lower Uranium Enrichment for Finland’s Loviisa NPP: “Russia’s state atomic corporation Rosatom said on May 24 its TVEL Fuel Company has completed development of the new modification of VVER-440 fuel for Loviisa NPP in Finland. According to Rosatom, the new modification of VVER-440 fuel bundle with higher uranium load would enhance the efficiency of fuel usage and power plant’s operation in general. In particular, increasing the mass of uranium in one fuel rod would enable to lower uranium enrichment level without reduction of thermal power generation in the reactor. In turn, a lower uranium enrichment will reduce the cost of the nuclear fuel production chain, as well as facilitate handling irradiated fuel.”

Crisis and Recovery Operations

  • Lithuania Runs Nuclear Emergency Alert Drill: “Lithuania conducted on [May 12] a state-level civil protection exercise to test authorities’ preparedness to alert the population about a nuclear emergency. Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite advised people to check if they had received alert messages on their mobile phones. “One of the goals of the exercise is to get people to check if they received the message today. If they didn’t, they should find out why and fix the settings,” she told reporters after the drill. At 3 a.m., sirens blared across Lithuania and alert messages were sent out to inform people about the exercise and advise them to turn on LRT Television or LRT Radio for further information.”

Threats

  • Mumbai: Two Arrested for Smuggling Over 7Kg Uranium Worth Rs 21 Crore: “The Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS) has seized over seven kilogram [sic] (kg) of natural uranium.” The alleged smuggler claimed he “was allegedly trying to sell it illegally and was in search of a possible customer.” 
  • Russian Nuclear Industry Discussed Cybersecurity of Nuclear Power Plants: “On May 12-13, 2021, All-Russian Research Institute for Nuclear Power Plants Operation (VNIIAES) hosted a seminar “Possible Computer Attacks and Insider Threats to the Information Security of Automated Process Control Systems of the Nuclear Power Plants.” “The presentations covered different aspects of cybersecurity of automated process control systems (APCS).” 
  • Weak Security Found at TEPCO’s Fukushima No. 2 Nuclear Plant: “Inadequate anti-terrorism measures were discovered at another nuclear power station operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co. [TEPCO], its No. 2 plant in Fukushima Prefecture, the Nuclear Regulation Authority said on May 19. The NRA said it found that people could have entered and exited through doors leading to nuclear material protection areas at turbine buildings of the nuclear plant without being properly checked.”
  • Seizure of Radioactive Uranium in India and Depleting Nuclear Safety and Security – Op-ed by Ahyousha Khan: “Very recently, in the first week of May 2021, the Indian police seized 7.1 Kilograms of illegally possessed Radioactive Uranium by two men in the state of Maharashtra.” “This incident has raised questions about the safety and security measures adopted by India for the protection of its nuclear materials and facilities. Moreover, it highlights the fact there may be an existence of an active nuclear black market.”
  • Rostechnadzor Reports on Nuclear Security for 2020: “On March 23, 2021, Rostechnadzor, the Russian regulator of nuclear safety and security in the civil nuclear industry, published the reports on its activity in 2020 including the results of oversight over nuclear materials control, accounting, and physical protection (MPC&A).” “3 anomalies in accounting for NM [nuclear materials] were detected and investigated, 15 unaccounted RS [radioactive sources] were found, including 11 orphaned RS, 16 RS were lost, and accounting data for two RS were inaccurate.”

Member Organization Announcements and Updates

The Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

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

CRDF Global

The Nuclear Threat Initiative

Sunesis Solutions

Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP)

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