1 – Introduction to Nuclear Safeguards & Security: Definitions

September 13, 2019 posted by


This module will be an introduction to the
nuclear security and safeguards fundamentals that will be discussed throughout the remaining
lectures within the Nuclear Security and Safeguards Education Portal. So first we will just run through some basic
definitions. Nuclear security is the prevention and detection
of and response to theft, sabotage, unauthorized access, illegal transfer or other malicious
acts involving nuclear or other radioactive substances or their associated facilities. Nuclear safeguards are a set of technical
measures that are applied on nuclear material and activities to independently verify that
nuclear facilities are not misused and nuclear material is not diverted from peaceful uses. Safeguards can be applied through several
different entities or organizations. The most significant one that we will focus
on is the International Atomic Energy Agency, or the IAEA. Safeguards are also applied by other domestic
agencies such as the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission or the European Atomic Energy Community,
or EURATOM, and there are other domestic agencies or multinational agencies throughout the world
that apply safeguards within countries and groups of countries. We will focus, as I mentioned, on IAEA safeguards. So we’ve gone through the technical definitions,
but for practical purposes, what’s the difference between security, safeguards, and safety is
something else that should be considered with nuclear facilities. So in a nuclear facility, we have nuclear
material, and security, safeguards, and safety are all very important and critical to maintaining
proper use of nuclear materials. So, first let’s take a look at security. Here we have a nuclear facility and it has
some nuclear material in it. Here we have an unauthorized actor, it could
be somebody totally unrelated to the facility, it could be somebody that has some access
to the facility but the things they are going to do they are not authorized to do. And they
take some action, some nefarious action against the nuclear facility. That could be theft of
nuclear material, or it could be some sabotage intended to release radioactivity or nuclear
material into the public. Security is meant to prevent this unauthorized actor from committing
any of those acts. Safeguards is to address a different situation
and that involves an authorized operator, or perhaps the State itself that the facility
is in, and that authorized actor, whether it’s the State or some very high level facility
operator will divert material to a non-peaceful military nuclear weapons program, and the
purpose of safeguards is to detect this diversion, not necessarily to prevent it, but to detect
the diversion from an authorized actor diverting the material and misusing facilities for military
purposes. Safety on the other hand deals with accidents
that might happen, whether that is through neglect or just a complete accident, that
is unintended. And it’s meant to protect both the facility
staff and the public from releases of radiation from a nuclear facility.

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