An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team concluded an International Security Advisory Mission (INSServ) to Viet Nam today. The team said the country has made progress towards establishing an effective national nuclear security regime for nuclear or other radioactive material out of regulatory control. It encouraged Vietnamese authorities to further integrate existing systems and measures into a national nuclear security policy.
The mission – the first of this kind to Viet Nam – was conducted at the request of the Government and hosted by the Viet Nam Agency for Radiation and Nuclear Safety (VARANS) from 19 to 31 March.
INSServ missions aim to help States to better prevent, detect and respond to criminal and intentional unauthorized acts involving nuclear or other radioactive material lost, missing, stolen, improperly disposed of, or not adequately stored or handled. These cases are known as Material out of Regulatory Control or MORC.
During the mission, the INSServ team met with officials to discuss and review the country’s laws and regulations. The team assessed the roles and responsibilities of authorities that deal with nuclear security and their stakeholders. The team reviewed, for example, how VARANS coordinates with other authorities such as the General Department of Viet Nam Customs, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of National Defence and the National Committee for Emergency Response, Search and Rescue of Viet Nam.
The team also conducted site visits in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. It observed as Vietnamese Front Line Officers operated Radiation Port Monitors (RPMs) at Noi Bai International Airport and at Cat Lai Seaport. The Ministry of Public Security briefed the team about nuclear security systems and measures for major public events.
“A strong nuclear security culture and a smooth cooperation among involved stakeholders are essential for the detection and response to criminal acts involving nuclear or other radioactive material,” said Elena Buglova, Director of the IAEA Division of Nuclear Security. “By requesting a full scope INSServ mission, Viet Nam has shown its commitment to further focus on areas such as the legislative and regulatory framework for nuclear security in relation to MORC, the sustainability of detection systems and measures, and the response system related to MORC.”
The INSServ team made several recommendations to Viet Nam to enhance its nuclear security regime concerning MORC. “We focused on how Viet Nam’s authorities can further enhance the coordination among involved organizations, as well as the effectiveness of nuclear security systems and measures available at the country’s seaports and international airports by placing them under a national detection architecture,” said Khammar Mrabit, a former Director General of the Moroccan Agency for Nuclear and Radiological Safety and Security and member of the Moroccan Parliament, who led the ten-day mission. The team included four other nuclear security experts from Brazil, Malaysia, Pakistan, the United States of America and one from the IAEA.
The team also identified a number of good practices, including Viet Nam’s cooperation with other countries to share information for better understanding of threats and to activate response mechanisms in a timely manner; an on-going research programme on radiation detection instruments for ensuring a sustainable approach at the national level; and the capacity built in the area of nuclear security systems and measures for major public events.
“We would like to convey our gratitude for IAEA’s acceptance of Viet Nam’s request to conduct an INSServ mission in the country,” said Le Xuan Dinh, Vice Minister of Science and Technology. “We expect that the INSServ’s recommendations and suggestions will help Viet Nam have a better understanding of the national nuclear security regime relating to MORC, which will contribute to enhancing our nuclear security capabilities.”
The mission was the 84th INSServ mission conducted by the IAEA since the programme began in 2006.
INSServ missions, based on the INSServ guidelines published in 2019, assist States in establishing, maintaining and strengthening their nuclear security regime related to nuclear and other radioactive material out of regulatory control.
The missions provide independent advice on implementing international instruments, along with IAEA guidance on the prevention and detection of and response to criminal and intentional unauthorized acts involving nuclear and other radioactive material out of regulatory control.