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

Output 1.2: Physical Protection

Protection of Australia's nuclear facilities, nuclear material and nuclear items against unauthorised access and sabotage. Internationally agreed physical protection standards applied to Australian Obligated Nuclear Material overseas.

Performance Measures

  • Physical protection of nuclear material, technology and facilities meets Australia's obligations under the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM), bilateral agreements and IAEA guidelines
  • Australian uranium at mines and in transit is properly protected
  • Internationally agreed standards for the physical protection of nuclear material are applied to all AONM
  • Proactive and professional contributions made to the development and effective international implementation of the CPPNM and associated physical protection guidelines

Performance Assessment

International and Bilateral Obligations

ASNO's inspections of permit holders established that physical protection arrangements at Australian facilities were in accordance with Australia's obligations under the CPPNM, IAEA guidelines, and relevant bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements. ASNO also met Australia's international shipment notification obligations under the CPPNM by notifying relevant parties of the transhipment of Australia's uranium ore concentrates.

During 27 February – 1 March 2013, Australia hosted a US delegation from the National Nuclear Security Administration, the Department of Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Department of State for a bilateral security visit pursuant to the Australia–US Nuclear Cooperation Agreement to assess the security of US-obligated nuclear material in Australia. In particular, the visit was triggered by ANSTO's request for the export of US-obligated nuclear material to Australia to fuel the OPAL reactor. The previous bilateral visit took place in 2005 (see page 43, 2005–06 Annual Report). The US delegation visited facilities where US-obligated nuclear material is used or stored and concluded that physical security at the buildings visited meet the intent of INFCIRC/225/Rev.421, but provided some strong suggestions to further enhance security.

Nuclear Security at Uranium Mines

On 23 May 2013, ASNO conducted an inspection at the Olympic Dam uranium mine, evaluating security plans and procedures against ASNO's permit requirements. ASNO reviewed documentation, physical protection equipment and procedures during the inspection. During the visit, ASNO also verified that recommendations arising from the previous inspection, including changes to the security plan and training documentation, had been appropriately addressed.

Transport of Uranium Ore Concentrate – Stakeholders meeting in Kalgoorlie

In February 2013, ASNO accompanied a small Western Australian Government delegation to Kalgoorlie to discuss with stakeholders the potential for uranium ore concentrates to transit through Kalgoorlie should uranium mining commence in Western Australia. The meetings were helpful to build an understanding of the roles and capabilities of first responders and the concerns of the local council and for ASNO to explain its role in the regulation of uranium transport in Australia.

Nuclear Security at Lucas Heights

ANSTO completed its periodic security review for the OPAL reactor in August 2012 which contained 88 recommendations for addressing the terms of reference which included assessment against international standards and ASNO's permit conditions. A joint working group between ASNO and ARPANSA held a meeting to discuss ANSTO's review and begin formulating a formal response which will be provided in the coming financial year.

ASNO considered and approved security arrangements associated with an extension to the OPAL reactor building (to accommodate new work space) and attended planning meetings to discuss security arrangements for ANSTO's proposed new nuclear medicine manufacturing plant.

ASNO also attended some of the series of security and crisis management exercises conducted by ANSTO throughout the year. The experiences gained from these exercises help improve emergency preparedness and response arrangements in place for ANSTO.

Exports of Australian Uranium

Reporting by conversion facilities, safeguards authorities and shipping agencies confirmed that all AONM exported from Australia safely reached its destination. Physical protection procedures applied to these exports included checking of the physical condition of the containers and verifying the integrity of the containers and seals at each port of unloading or transhipment to detect any breaches of physical protection.

IPPAS Workshop and Upcoming Mission

In November 2012, ASNO hosted an IAEA led regional workshop on International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) missions in Sydney to educate participants on the importance, activities, scope, and process of IPPAS mission activities. The workshop was attended by 25 participants, including from Australia, Bangladesh, Hungary, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Thailand, the UK and Vietnam. The workshop was especially useful for countries considering or planning IPPAS missions.

After the workshop, ASNO also hosted a two-day preparatory meeting for Australia's planned IPPAS mission in November 2013. The scope, timing, schedule, team composition and financing were discussed and written up as a draft arrangement. Further correspondence on the scope of the mission concluded that it should include national arrangements and facility security, nuclear material and radioactive sources, transport security and cyber security at Lucas Heights, Sydney.

ASNO also provided a team member for an IPPAS mission hosted in Hungary held over two weeks in May–June 2013.

Transport Workshop – Sydney

During 3–7 December 2012 in Sydney, ASNO and ARPANSA co-hosted an IAEA international regional training course on security in the transport of nuclear material. Participants from China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand attended, as well as Australian participants and IAEA representatives. Key topics included prevention of theft and sabotage, recovery of nuclear materials and response to sabotage, threat assessments, international and domestic transport and transport security plans. ASNO presented on Australia's nuclear materials security regulation and experiences.

Uranium Production Regulatory Workshop – Darwin

The IAEA and the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism co-hosted a Training Meeting on the Effective Regulatory and Environmental Management of Uranium Production, held from 13–17 August 2012 in Darwin. The purpose of the workshop was to share and discuss best practice and innovative approaches for managing regulatory and environmental issues during uranium exploration, mining and ore processing. The presentations given at the meeting focused on sharing concepts to effectively regulate and facilitate safe, secure and responsible uranium mining activities. The meeting was attended by Commonwealth, state and territory government representatives, uranium mining and exploration companies, and international regulatory bodies. The workshop was also attended by an African uranium mining study tour, hosted by AusAID, that was visiting Australia at the time of the workshop. ASNO gave two presentations, one on Safeguards Reporting and Verification at Uranium Mines and another on Security Requirements and Implementation. Further details of the workshop, including copies of the presentations, can be found on the IAEA's website (

International Regulator's Conference on Nuclear Security

During 3–6 December 2012, ASNO attended an International Regulator's Conference on Nuclear Security in the US hosted by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Thirty-nine countries were represented at the conference. Keynote speakers included IAEA Director General Amano, and the then Assistant to the President of the United States for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, John Brennan. The topic of nuclear cyber security featured prominently at the conference, among other topics such as legal and regulatory frameworks, design basis threats, personal trustworthiness, the safety-security interface, response to security events, radioactive source security, and IPPAS missions. ASNO presented on revising Australia's Design Basis Threat.

Regional Workshop on the Amended CPPNM

ASNO presented on Australia's experience in ratifying and implementing the Amendment to the CPPNM during an IAEA regional workshop on Facilitating Adherence to and Implementation of the 2005 Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, held in Beijing, 1–3 April 2013. The workshop was one of a series of workshops held by the IAEA who are strongly promoting the entry into force of the Amended CPPNM which requires two-thirds of state parties to the CPPNM to ratify the amendment before it enters into force. The Beijing workshop was attended by participants and presenters from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Lebanon, Mongolia, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Vietnam, and Yemen.

IAEA Nuclear Security Guidance Committee and the Nuclear Security Series

ASNO attended the 2nd and 3rd meetings of the IAEA's Nuclear Security Guidance Committee (NSGC) held during 9–13 December 2012 and 13–17 May 2013, both held in Vienna and attended by over 40 member states. For the December meeting, ARPANSA also attended as Australia's alternate member. Aside from consideration of specific documents in the IAEA's nuclear security series, the main topics of discussion were: the document production roadmap for the Nuclear Security Series; criteria for the attendance of observers to the NSGC; a 'fast-track' process for urgent documents; and a proposed nuclear security glossary.

Development of Nuclear Security Guidance for the Uranium Industry

Continuing the IAEA's work to produce detailed nuclear security guidance for nuclear security in the natural uranium industry, ASNO joined a small group of experts from France, Canada, US, South Africa, Russia and Denmark for an IAEA-led consultancy meeting held during 29 October to 2 November 2012 in Vienna. ASNO chaired a subgroup that composed state-level recommendations. The consultancy produced a solid draft of a guidance document designed to be used by regulators, operators and transporters in countries currently and prospectively involved with uranium mining or transport. The IAEA has already begun to 'road-test' the document as part of a series of workshops and outreach visits in Africa. The ultimate goal is to develop a document suitable for publication in the IAEA nuclear security series.

Nuclear Security Summit

ASNO attended intersessional Sherpa and Sous-Sherpa meetings of the nuclear security summit in Istanbul, The Hague and Vienna in preparation for the 2014 nuclear security summit in the Netherlands. During the meetings, delegates discussed arrangements and content for the 2014 summit, including progress on previous commitments, potential new initiatives, and the outline of The Hague summit communiqué. At the request of the Dutch Sherpa, Director General ASNO (Australia's Sherpa) gave presentations on international assurances in nuclear security (an outline of which is provided in Current Topics page 24).

ASNO also attended a number of track 1.5 workshops and dialogues, variously attended by some summit Sherpas and Sous-Sherpas, which discussed initiatives that could be delivered at the upcoming nuclear security summit to further strengthen global nuclear security.

Key Nuclear Security Regimes:

Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM):

The CPPNM is the only legally binding international instrument in the area of physical protection of nuclear material. It establishes measures related to the prevention, detection, and punishment of offences related to nuclear material. The CPPNM was amended in 2005 to make it legally binding for States Parties to protect nuclear facilities and to protect nuclear materials domestically as well as in international transport. Australia played a lead role in that revision process.
As of 30 June 2013, 68 states had ratified the amended CPPNM, requiring 30 further ratifications for the Amendment to enter into force at that date.

International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (ICSANT):

This Convention entered into force in July 2007, and requires, inter alia, all State Parties 'to make every effort to adopt appropriate measures to ensure the protection of radioactive materials'. Australia ratified the Convention on 16 March 2012.

United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1540:

The resolution was adopted in April 2004, establishing binding obligations on all UN member states under Chapter VII of the UN Charter to criminalise the proliferation of WMD and enforce effective measures against the proliferation of WMD, their means of delivery and related materials. In April 2011 UNSCR 1977 extended the mandate of UNSCR 1540 by 10 years until 2021.

Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism: (GICNT):

The GICNT is a key forum for multilateral cooperation launched by the United States and Russia in 2006. Australia is a partner of the GICNT which as of 30 June 2013 has 85 partner nations and four observers (UNODC, IAEA, EU, and Interpol). The principles of the GICNT aim to encourage international cooperation and commitment to securing nuclear materials while improving enforcement and interdiction mechanisms to counter terrorists procuring or using radioactive or nuclear materials.

ASNO Assistant Secretary John Kalish at the Fourth International Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Security Symposium, Seoul, Republic of Korea, September 2012

ASNO Assistant Secretary John Kalish at the Fourth International Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Security Symposium, Seoul, Republic of Korea, September 2012

21 Given that many countries are still in transition to meet to recommendations of INFCIRC/225/Rev.5, the US bilateral visits currently assess against revision 4, but make suggestions relevant to revision 5. Future US bilateral visits will involve assessment against INFCIRC/225/Rev.5.