NNSA, IAEA Share Physical Protection Best Practices at 22nd International Nuclear Security Training

Press Release
Nov 8, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), in partnership with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), today concluded the 22nd International Training Course (ITC) on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Facilities and Materials. This three-week course, hosted by Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M., brought together experts from 35 countries for a series of courses on physical protection and material control and accounting, as well as hands-on nuclear security exercises. 

“The breadth of our experience working in nuclear security over the past 60 years enables us to share best practices and lessons learned with our international partners,” said Anne Harrington, NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation. “NNSA’s continued cooperation in the area of improving nuclear security is essential in implementing President Obama’s goal of securing all vulnerable material in four years.”

Beginning in 1978, the Department of Energy and then NNSA, together with the IAEA have sponsored this course every 18 months. In that time NNSA and the IAEA have trained more than 600 nuclear security specialists from more than 60 countries. Many of these government officials, nuclear regulators, nuclear facility operators and nuclear material transporters have become national leaders and international experts in nuclear security.

The ITC is the first course of its kind to provide continual training to IAEA member states.  ITC emphasizes a performance-based approach to the design and evaluation of physical protection systems. This landmark course helps countries measure the effectiveness of their security systems for both nuclear material and nuclear facilities against country-specific threat assessments.

The course consists of more than two dozen classroom lectures and subgroup exercises conducted in a hypothetical nuclear facility to avoid revealing sensitive security information associated with existing facilities.

Course participants received training in the characterization of a nuclear facility, methods of detecting intruders and contraband brought into a facility, and methods of delaying and defeating an adversary’s entry into a facility.  Presentations and panel discussions were conducted with IAEA, NNSA and Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) experts on nuclear security.  Participants also visited field testing and training facilities at NNSA’s Sandia National Laboratories.

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Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science in the nation’s national security enterprise. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability, and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; reduces the global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.