Facilitating Partnerships for Nuclear Security Assistance and Resource Efficiency

The Integrated Nuclear Security Support Plan (INSSP) is a key tool that helps countries coordinate nuclear security assistance from the IAEA. It also, assists countries to coordinate partnerships with other assistance providers to strengthen their national nuclear security regimes.

“Developing comprehensive, detailed, and prioritized INSSPs provides a strong foundation for focusing the resources, provided to the IAEA through the Nuclear Security Fund and through in-kind contributions, on the identified and requested needs of our Member States,” said Raja Abdul Aziz Raja Adnan, Director of theIAEA’s Division of Nuclear Security in his opening statement at the recent INSSP Points of Contacts meeting held virtually in lieu of the tri-annual Technical Meeting.

Since the first approval of an INSSP in 2006, 112 countries have taken advantage of using the IAEA INSSP mechanism. As of the time of the publication, 88 States have approved their country specific Plans.

“The IAEA manages an average of 600 assistance requests for nuclear security each year, of which 70% are identified through the INSSP process,” said Raja Adnan.

In close consultations with the requesting states, the IAEA develops country-specific INSSP that outline priorities and develop implementation strategies and a timeline for completing the highest priority activities toward enhancing the State’s nuclear security regime. The plan also identifies roles and responsibilities and helps to facilitate internal coordination among the many national authorities responsible for different aspects of the State’s nuclear security regime.

“Clear delineation of responsibilities for implementing the Plan is essential for the efficient use of international assistance, whether from the IAEA or other entities,” said Heba Ezz Eldin Anwar Negm, INSSP Officer at the IAEA’s Division of Nuclear Security. “Having multiple stakeholders working on the same aspect of national nuclear security regime with assistance from different entities is inefficient for the international community and ineffective for the country’s nuclear security.”

A country’s INSSP takes into account bilateral cooperation with other countries and entities, ongoing or planned, to avoid duplication of international efforts and resources. For instance, Romania invited the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority to take part in its INSSP Finalization Mission to ensure a coordinated approach with an ongoing project on strengthening Romania’s regulatory infrastructure for nuclear safety and security, funded through Norway’s voluntary contribution to the IAEA.

Since 2014 when Egypt signed its INSSP, the national authorities utilized the Plan to coordinate international partners from the United States of America, United Kingdom and Canada and connect them with the appropriate national counterparts.

“With the IAEA we, the regulator, are strengthening our regulatory framework, including in the areas of transport security and physical protection of nuclear materials and nuclear facilities,” said Mahmoud Mohamed, Head of Nuclear Security Department of Egyptian Nuclear and Radiological Regulatory Authority. “Partners from the U.S., UK and Canada are assisting with building capacity among the operators of the various facilities.”

Leveraging the content of the INSSP, countries also use the Plan to address their international legal obligations related to nuclear and other radioactive material.

“We established a single National Action Plan to coordinate multiple partners’ support for addressing the country’s legal obligations under the [United Nations Security Council Resolution]1540, the European Union Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear National Action Plan, and the INSSP,” said Ilhom Mirsaidzoda, Director of Nuclear and Radiation Safety of Tajikistan’s National Atomic Energy Authority. “This single National Action Plan is not limited to preventing nuclear terrorism, but encompasses all CBRN-related prevention and control activities.”

The INSSP mechanism and process

A robust national nuclear security regime may involve physical protection of nuclear or other radioactive material and associated facilities and activities, criminalization of offenses involving such material, and detection of material that may be lost, stolen or may be smuggled; and a coordinated response thereto. National nuclear security regimes may look different from country to country, depending on the kind of material in use and the results of national threat and risk assessments. For this reason, IAEA works with States to develop country-specific INSSPs.

The INSSP development process is a systematic and comprehensive approach for helping a State to identify areas, in a manner that maintains confidentiality of sensitive information, where a State’s national nuclear security regime should be strengthened. The priority areas and associated activities are identified by the State, regardless of the organization that might assist the State in addressing the need.

The IAEA and the State assess the State’s nuclear security needs, based on six functional areas: the legislative and regulatory framework, threat and risk assessment, physical protection regime, detection of and response to criminal and unauthorized acts involving material out of regulatory control, and nuclear security regime sustainability. Findings of IAEA advisory missions, like the International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS), the International Nuclear Security Advisory Service (INSServ), and the International Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) may also inform the INSSP.

Despite the travel restrictions preventing fact-to-face INSSP meetings, the IAEA maintains open dialogues with States to review and adapt their INSSP implementation plans.

The tri-annual Technical Meeting of the Points of Contact for INSSP, has rescheduled to 5-7 May 2021, will mark 15 years of the INSSP programme and lessons learnt.

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