Nuclear Security at Major Public Events: IAEA Marks 18 Years of Helping Countries Address Security Threats

Whether it’s an international sporting event, a political summit, or a large-scale conference and exhibition, all major public events require a comprehensive security plan that includes nuclear security measures. Since the Athens Olympics in 2004, the IAEA has supported 68 events in 43 countries to strengthen their preparedness to counter potential nuclear security threats.

At an event today alongside the IAEA’s annual General Conference, delegates gathered to mark the success of the Agency’s nuclear security program with major public events over the past 18 years and to discuss ways in which the IAEA can continue to strengthen its support to building countries’ nuclear security capabilities when organizing events that attract media attention and public interest .

“The impact of program implementation goes beyond the duration of a major public event,” said Elena Buglova, director of the IAEA’s Nuclear Security Division, at the event today. today. “We have seen many countries use this successful IAEA program as a ‘starting point’ from which they can develop broader national nuclear security capabilities or enhance capabilities that already exist.”

During the event, participants learned about the IAEA’s support and assistance in this area, which includes equipment loans, training workshops, tabletop and field exercises and technical visits by international experts. Over the past six years, the IAEA has loaned more than 3,500 pieces of radiation detection equipment to countries around the world as part of its program of major public events.

Stressing the need to consider nuclear security at major public events, Nigel Tottie, Head of the Institutional Response Infrastructure Unit of the IAEA’s Nuclear Security Division, said: “We advise host countries to consider threats posed by nuclear and other radioactive materials from the outset. as part of their general preparations and event security planning activities. The sooner they start planning their nuclear security measures, the better, as they can take full advantage of the IAEA’s assistance program before the event. Tottie hosted the event.

During a panel discussion with representatives from Costa Rica, Egypt and Qatar – countries that have used or will use IAEA assistance in implementing nuclear security measures at major public events in 2022 – participants heard about their experiences and the benefits of IAEA assistance. Most recently, the IAEA supported Costa Rica in its nuclear security efforts for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in August 2022. IAEA support included four national workshops and a training event in Vienna to which about 90 people from 15 institutions participated.

“Costa Rica has greatly benefited from the assistance provided by the IAEA – it was the first time such a program was implemented in the country,” said Ambassador Christian Guillermet-Fernández, Deputy Minister of Multilateral Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship of Costa Rica. . “Capacity building opportunities were given to national authorities responsible for the implementation of security measures and the operation of specialized equipment, as well as to first responders.

Discussions and presentations during the event also highlighted ways in which the IAEA continues to improve its support to build country capacity in this area. For example, the Agency’s support to Costa Rica included the first-ever deployment of its most advanced nuclear security protection software, the Mobile Integrated Nuclear Security Network (M-INSN), to be used by frontline officers to quickly obtain and act on the radiological data they need to protect the public in the event of an incident involving nuclear materials. In addition to the M-INSN, IAEA Nuclear Security Field Operations Support includes the Tool for Radiation Alarm and Commodity Evaluation (TRACE) application, which is free to download and provides detailed information to help assess radiation instrument alarms caused by trucks and other cargo. transporting vehicles.

“The M-INSN software supported radiation detection operations conducted by the Special Response Unit at stadiums, hotels, training centers and other key sites,” the Ambassador said. Guillermet-Fernandez. “It allowed them to have secure communication and analysis of information between frontline officers and the command center.”

The IAEA plans to launch a Personnel Alarm Assessment Tool (PAAT) later this year, to aid the work of front-line workers when assessing alarms.

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