Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office: Annual Report 2012-13

Building International Confidence in Nuclear Security Practices

'International assurances' can be defined as: activities undertaken, information shared or measures implemented voluntarily by a state or other stakeholder that can build the confidence of others (e.g. other governments, a designated international organisation, the public) about the effectiveness of nuclear security within a given state. International assurance of nuclear security is best understood through its objective, that is, to build confidence about effectiveness. When a state demonstrates to others that its systems, processes, plans and people are effective, capable, qualified, proficient and prepared, they are assured; meaning that they feel more confident that, should the worst happen, the state can prevent or manage the consequences of a nuclear security incident.

Nuclear security is both a shared and sovereign responsibility. The state is responsible for its nuclear security regime and operators should have the responsibility for site specific security and physical protection systems. However, all governments and the global public have a stake in how effectively nuclear security responsibilities are met as the economic and security consequences of a nuclear catastrophe are global in scope. These shared consequences give rise to a shared responsibility for nuclear security which can be met by states taking steps to assure others that they are discharging their sovereign responsibilities.

Building confidence in nuclear security practices does not require a new legally binding commitment, the disclosure of sensitive information, verification or international inspections, but it does require a willingness to cooperate in building international security, a desire for an appropriate level of openness and a robust nuclear security culture. Such assurances are about building confidence in the effectiveness of a state's nuclear security system with other governments and the public, rather than making a guarantee about specific behaviours and sensitive security practices.

Although international assurances can be implemented on a voluntary basis, there are, however, some ways of providing international assurance that make use of previously existing obligations that states have already undertaken (e.g. United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1540 reporting and reporting required by States Party to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material).

International assurance is not a new concept. 'Assurance' mechanisms are widely used across many industries, including those involving sensitive information. These industries (e.g. nuclear safety, aviation, shipping) demonstrate that providing international assurances is not only possible, but actually commonplace.

An added benefit is that for states participating in assurance mechanisms, their level of security practice is likely to rise. Different ways of providing assurance, such as sharing best practices, peer review and sharing information regarding legal and regulatory frameworks, can help all states improve. This is because a state must internally assure itself before it can assure others. Sufficient internal assurance and accountability mechanisms could facilitate the ability of a state to provide international assurances that all of its nuclear materials and facilities are secure.

How Can Assurances be Provided?

Assurances can vary in who provides them, how they are provided and who are the beneficiaries of the assurances. They can be provided by those engaged in assurance activities and information sharing such as ministries and agencies from the government and regulators, as well as nuclear industry and operators. Assurances can be provided in a variety of ways: unilaterally (such as publishing an annual report on nuclear security), bilaterally (such as engaging in nuclear security cooperative measures with another state) or multilaterally (such as best practice exchanges).

International assurance is not a one-size-fits-all concept. Therefore, a state could have a range of options taking into account its circumstances, the ways in which it uses nuclear materials and the means by which it internally assures itself. Assurances can apply to materials and facilities in both civilian and non-civilian use. The foundation for international assurances already exists and some states are already able to provide assurances to others about the effectiveness of their nuclear security systems.

Outlined below are some ways by which a state can assure others about the effectiveness of its nuclear security system while protecting sensitive information about materials and sites.

Peer Review

Undertaking peer reviews such as the IAEA's International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) missions or the World Institute for Nuclear Security (WINS) peer reviews on corporate governance and management practices for operators as they relate to nuclear security, demonstrate a commitment to strengthening nuclear security. A state can further build confidence about its nuclear security practices by publishing the results of the IPPAS mission report (redacted for sensitive information), reporting on steps taken to respond to IPPAS recommendations for improvements and by requesting a follow-up mission within a reasonable period of time. Australia will host its first IPPAS mission in November 2013.

Expanded Best Practice Sharing: WINS offers a series of best practice guides on a wide range of topics and conducts workshops to gather and disseminate best practices. IPPAS missions also provide a mechanism for best practice sharing.

Bilateral Cooperative Measures: One existing bilateral mechanism is based on the physical protection requirements in nuclear cooperation agreements or as part of export agreements instituted by several states such as the US, Canada, Australia, and EURATOM countries when engaging in nuclear commerce. The US, for instance, visits partner countries to observe the physical protection systems in place for the protection of US-origin nuclear material. Australia hosted such a visit in February–March 2013.

The US–Russian cooperative threat reduction program demonstrates the value of bilateral mechanisms to improve security and build confidence, and that nuclear security cooperation at sensitive sites and with sensitive materials is possible without compromising sensitive information.

Declarations and Accounting: Declarations about quantities of material (e.g. annual reports, INFCIRC/549, historical production) or, at a minimum, demonstrating that a regular accounting/auditing process with respect to these materials takes place, without divulging sensitive details could help provide assurance that material is accounted for and could also encourage the sharing of best practices for accounting. For the first time the ASNO annual report will set out Australia's total holdings of highly-enriched uranium.

Training and Certification: Nuclear security training helps states and operators ensure that personnel with nuclear security responsibilities can competently discharge their responsibilities. Training can be provided by government entities, nuclear industry, the IAEA, WINS, centres of excellence and nuclear security support centres. In 2012, the IAEA created the International Network for Nuclear Security Training and Support Centres to encourage collaboration and coordination of training initiatives. The development of a certification program to assure that nuclear security professionals have all participated in internationally recognised training programs could also raise confidence in the security of all materials under their purview, both in civilian and non-civilian use.

Further Establishing Assurances

A review of the options in the previous section for providing assurances showed examples of both existing and new assurance activities. To further build international assurance these activities could be enhanced in scope and detail, conducted on a more regular basis and broadened in participation, all while protecting that which remains sensitive. For example, a few states provide regular declarations about the quantities of nuclear material subject to regulatory control. Such declarations could be enhanced by increasing the types of materials reported, broadening participation and encouraging regular and frequent reporting.

With actions from states individually to provide assurances and collectively to ensure that missing implementation architecture is put in place, international assurance is an achievable and worthwhile goal that is within reach.

Information Sharing and Reporting

Australia's Nuclear Security Profile (provided at the end of this article) provides a form of international assurance. Public release of official documents containing details of nuclear security regulations and other selected details of nuclear security-related activities increases confidence that the basic legal and regulatory framework required for nuclear security may be in place within a state. Australia's Nuclear Security Profile was compiled with input from ASNO, ARPANSA, ANSTO and the International Security Division of DFAT, and lists key treaties, legislation, activities and practices relevant to Australia and nuclear security, and will be updated annually for inclusion in future annual reports.

In addition, there are two mechanisms whereby states could use existing obligations to provide assurance. First, through UNSCR 1540, each state provides reporting on nuclear security-related issues. A state could choose to make its UNSCR 1540 report and matrix (developed by the UNSCR 1540 Committee) available to the public. Second, all States Party to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) (and its 2005 Amendment when in force) have, through Article 14.1 committed to inform the depositary, in this case the IAEA, of the laws and regulations that give effect to the CPPNM. The assurance comes from the IAEA communicating 'such information periodically to all States Party' as specified in Article 14.1. The procedures for doing so, however, have yet to be specified.

Australia's Nuclear Security Profile

1. International Legal Framework

Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material
+ 2005 Amendment
International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism
UNSCR 1540 Committee Approved Matrix
UNSCR 1540 (S/AC.44/2004/(02)/53)
UNSCR 1540 (S/AC.44/2004/(02)/53/Add.1)
Report submitted
Report submitted
Report approved

2. Nuclear Security related Initiatives, Partnerships and Groups

Initiative, Partnership or Group
Year Joined
Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT)
Founding Member
Global Partnership
Proliferation Security Initiative

3. Domestic Nuclear Security

Nuclear Regulatory Authorities
Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office
(Nuclear material and nuclear facility security)
Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency
(Radioactive sources security and emergency response for the Commonwealth)
Key Legislation (available on
Nuclear Non-Proliferation (Safeguards) Act 1987
Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act 1998
Weapons of Mass Destruction Act 1995
Customs Act 1901
Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956
Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations 1958
IAEA Recommendations
Compliance with INFCIRC/225/Rev.5 (NSS-13) is a licence requirement for all nuclear facilities.
Design Basis Threat
Year of revisions: 2012, 2002, 1990.

4. Radioactive Sources

Support for Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources
Australian support confirmed through political commitment pursuant to IAEA GC(47)/RES/7
Supplementary Guidance on the
Import and Export of Radioactive Sources
Australian support confirmed through political commitment pursuant to IAEA GC(48)/RES/10
National Register
National sealed sources register: Category 1 and 2 sources.

5. Peer review

International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS)
November 2013 (planned)
US Bilateral Security Visits pursuant to Australia-US Nuclear Cooperation Agreement
1976, 1987, 1991, 1997, 2003, 2005, 2013
Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS)
2007, 2011

6. Nuclear Forensics and Detection

GICNT Nuclear Forensics Working Group
2010 – present
GICNT Response and Mitigation Working Group
2011 – present
GICNT Nuclear Detection Working Group
2010 – present
Nuclear Forensics International Technical Working Group (ITWG)
2003 – present

7. Major Support and Involvement with the IAEA

Advisory Group on Nuclear Security (AdSec)
2013 – present
Nuclear Security Guidance Committee (NSGC)
2012 – present
Emergency Preparedness and Response Expert Group
2012 – present
IAEA Coordinated Research Project on Identification of High Confidence Nuclear Forensic Signatures for the Development of Nuclear Forensic Libraries
2012 – present
IAEA Radioactive Source Security Working Group
2012 – present
Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources
Chair experts group on information exchange
2007 – present
Development and review of Nuclear Security Series documents
Expert consultant
2003 – present
Incident & Trafficking Database
1995 – present
Analytical Laboratories for the Measurement of Environmental Radioactivity (ALMERA)
1995 – present
Nuclear Security Fund
2002, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2013
International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) Missions
Team members
2002, 2003, 2005(2), 2013(2)
Regional IAEA Nuclear Security Training Courses and other courses led by IAEA Office of Nuclear Security
Expert consultants and presenters
Major Past Activities
IAEA Coordinated Research Project on Application of Nuclear Forensics in Illicit Trafficking of Nuclear and other Radioactive Material
2008 – 2011
Amendment to the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material
Chair Committee of the Whole at the Diplomatic Conference
Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources
Chair negotiation of Code and Export/Import Guidance
2000 – 2004

8. Outreach and Capacity Building

GICNT Joint Working Group Activity on Radiological Crime Scene Management (planned)
February 2014
IAEA training course on Nuclear Forensics Methodologies (planned)
October 2013
2nd ASEAN Regional Forum Workshop on Nuclear Forensics (planned)
September 2013
Technical Visit to Australia on the Implementation of Nuclear Security for the Uranium Industry
June 2013
IAEA regional workshop on the nuclear security in the transport of nuclear material
December 2012
ASEAN Regional Forum Workshop on Nuclear Forensics
December 2012
IAEA regional workshop on IPPAS missions
November 2012
GICNT Nuclear Forensics workshop Iron Koala: Information Sharing during Nuclear Smuggling Events
May 2012
IAEA Regional Workshop on Radiological Crime Scene Management and Introduction to Nuclear Forensics
March 2012
GICNT activity Discex Hermes: Public Messaging
November 2011
Informal working group on nuclear security (Asia-Pacific Safeguards Network)
2011 – present
Regional Security of Radioactive Sources Project
IAEA regional training courses on nuclear security at research facilities held in Australia
2004, 2006, 2009
IAEA regional training courses on nuclear security forensics and radiological crime scene management
2008 – present

* Information as of 30 June 2013
Contributing Agencies
Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office
Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation
Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade


ASNO Director-General Robert Floyd with Armenian Sherpa, Samvel Mkrtchia at the Nuclear Security Summit, The Hague, June 2013

ASNO Director-General Robert Floyd with Armenian Sherpa, Samvel Mkrtchia at the Nuclear Security Summit, The Hague, June 2013