IAEA Conference Focuses on Strengthening and Sustaining Nuclear Security Amid Emerging Threats

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is hosting a crucial gathering this week, bringing together representatives from over 130 countries to bolster nuclear security efforts in the face of emerging threats such as nuclear terrorism and malicious acts.


During the opening session of the International Conference on Nuclear Security, a quadrennial event, the Co-Presidents issued a joint statement emphasizing the imperative of robust nuclear security measures to safeguard nuclear material and radioactive substances against theft and nuclear facilities against sabotage amidst the increasing utilization of nuclear science and technology.


The statement, jointly released by Tim Watts, Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia, and Sungat Yessimkhanov, Vice-Minister of Energy of Kazakhstan, underscores the dual role of emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), in presenting challenges and opportunities for nuclear security.


Highlighting the expansion of nuclear technology’s global applications, from clean energy to life-saving medical advancements like cancer radiotherapy and agricultural innovations, the statement emphasizes that effective nuclear security measures foster public confidence in the peaceful utilization of nuclear applications.


Nuclear security, deemed a national responsibility, encompasses measures to prevent, detect, and respond to malicious acts involving nuclear material, radioactive substances, or associated facilities. With the escalating integration of digital technologies, heightened vigilance is imperative to address computer security threats, cyberattacks, and potential vulnerabilities associated with digital technologies.


Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi stressed the necessity of a robust and adaptive global nuclear security regime to safeguard the manifold benefits derived from nuclear applications and to thwart any attempts by malicious entities to exploit nuclear and radioactive material for nefarious purposes.


The joint statement reiterates the collective commitment to nuclear non-proliferation, disarmament, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy, recognizing nuclear security as a vital contributor to international peace and security.


National statements delivered at the conference highlighted achievements in nuclear security since the previous ICONS conference in 2020 and underscored the central role of the IAEA in aiding Member States in establishing and enhancing national nuclear security regimes through guidance development, peer review, advisory services, and capacity building.


Assistant Minister Watts emphasized the shared commitment to enhancing nuclear security, characterizing ICONS as a pivotal event for the global nuclear security community. He highlighted the conference’s role in advancing aligned commitments and priorities while fostering collaboration on national nuclear security regimes.


Vice-Minister Yessimkhanov highlighted the potential of AI products and advanced computing technologies in strengthening nuclear security regimes, despite associated risks and challenges. He underscored the importance of robust national nuclear security regimes in preventing illicit trafficking of nuclear and radioactive material.



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