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10-14 February 2020
Europe/Vienna timezone

Building Sustainability into National Nuclear Security Regimes

Not scheduled
Paper CC: Use of IAEA and other international guidelines for building national nuclear security regimes


Frederic Morris (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)


The fundamental underpinning of nuclear security is a State’s national nuclear security regime, consisting of the legislative and regulatory framework, responsible institutions and organizations, and nuclear security systems and measures. To be truly successful, the nuclear security regime must be sustainable – reliably effective both now and in the future. The recently published IAEA Implementing Guide Sustaining a Nuclear Security Regime provides useful guidance on this topic. The paper complements this guidance by offering suggestions on how to build sustainability into the nuclear security regime – sustainability by design.

The fundamental goal is to create a nuclear security regime that institutionalizes nuclear security within the government of the State, competent authorities, licensees and other operating organizations, and civil society, so that nuclear security becomes self-sustaining. The paper describes several building blocks for this approach, including the following:

(1) Establishing effective nuclear security as an enduring, apolitical, consensus-based norm – so that the nuclear security regime receives a consistently high level of attention and support, regardless of changes in leadership within the government, competent authorities, or operating organizations;
(2) Embedding nuclear security in the permanent organization of the government – so that nuclear security is vested and weighted as a vital interest both within competent authorities for which nuclear security is a primary mission (such as the regulatory body) and within the sub-units of competent authorities for which nuclear security is one among many missions (such as law enforcement);
(3) Appointing regulatory body leadership (such as governing board or commission chairs and members) to fixed multi-year terms – so that they gain an understanding of nuclear security and its importance and provide stability and continuity;
(4) Developing nuclear security champions within the senior staff of regulatory bodies and other competent authorities, including designated successors with defined succession plans, so that that nuclear security becomes a continuous high priority and does not suffer lapses when senior staff depart;
(5) Professionalizing nuclear security through the establishment of degree and certification programs and the development of qualification requirements for licensees and other operating organizations – so that nuclear security specialists perform to well-defined levels of competency and nuclear security becomes an attractive long-term career path for talented individuals; and
(6) Cultivating an appreciation of nuclear security fundamentals in professional societies and trade associations of related fields (such as health physics) – so that those of their members with nuclear security roles (such as radiation protection officers) take nuclear security seriously and are motivated and equipped to perform these roles well.

The paper describes these building blocks and several others in more detail. It then offers a template for assessing the extent to which they are in place in a given State, according to defined metrics, with suggestions for putting these items in place where they are absent or not fully developed.

Gender Female
State United States

Primary author


Frederic Morris (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory) Michael Hazel (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (US Department of Energy))

Presentation Materials