The IAEA and the Atomic Energy Licensing Board of Malaysia (AELB) have established a pool of radiation detection equipment available for loan, backed by financial contributions from Japan, to support nuclear security training and detection capabilities at major public events in Asia and the Pacific. This is the first nuclear security equipment repository facilitated by the IAEA.
Under the terms of this agreement, the IAEA will station personal radiation detectors (PRDs), radionuclide identification devices (RIDs) and backpack radiation detectors (BRDs) at the Malaysia Nuclear Security Support Center (NSSC) operated by AELB. The equipment, purchased with Japan’s contribution to the IAEA Nuclear Security Fund, will support nuclear security capacity building and detection capabilities in the region.
The Malaysia NSSC and the IAEA will utilize the equipment to train front-line officers, such as customs and law enforcement personnel, in radiation detection techniques, to enhance capacity among experts on calibration and maintenance of radiation detection equipment for nuclear security, and lend equipment to support detection capabilities at major public events to prevent terrorist attacks using radioactive material.
“Nuclear or other radioactive material lost or stolen may mean a vulnerability at national facilities or borders, and this type of equipment is key to detecting such material,” said Raja Abdul Aziz Raja Adnan, Director of the IAEA Division of Nuclear Security. “This loaner pool of radiation detection equipment is an example of how international cooperation – in this case trilateral cooperation between the IAEA, Malaysia and Japan – can strengthen nuclear security.”
The agreement was signed by Adnan on behalf of the IAEA, and Mohd Pauzi Mohd Sobari, Director General of the Atomic Energy Licensing Board in Malaysia, at a virtual ceremony on the sidelines of the 64th IAEA General Conference in September.
“With this enhanced technical capacity, we look forward to leveraging our national capabilities and lessons-learned to enhance harmonised implementation of nuclear security in the region,” said Mohd Sobari, speaking from AELB headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.
Typically, loans of such equipment require time-intensive and costly shipping arrangements. Depending on the destination and customs clearance requirements of the host country it could take up to weeks or months for countries to process radiation detection equipment and for frontline officers to deploy it in the field. Shipment of the equipment back to the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, where it is maintained and stored, adds costs and time; and may preclude quick re-deployment to other destinations. Stationing and maintaining the equipment closer to the location of events speeds up this deployment process, saving time and resources.
“We hope the equipment will be used effectively to enhance the nuclear security in Malaysia and, more broadly, in the region,” said Atsushi Kuwabara of the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations in Vienna.
Since 2004, the IAEA has provided assistance, upon request, to integrate nuclear security systems and measures into the overall security plans for nearly 60 major sport, political and religious events. Of those, more than 10 have taken place in the Asia and Pacific region and additional events are planned in the near future, some of which have been postponed from 2020 due to COVID-19. In addition to assisting countries with developing necessary organizational structures and coordination mechanisms, the IAEA has lent equipment to bolster countries’ capabilities to detect any nuclear or other radioactive material out of regulatory control that may be used with malicious purposes.