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The Role of the Nuclear Industry

December 26, 2013

Effective nuclear materials security at the national and global levels requires efforts by many, including government agencies, regulators, and operators of nuclear facilities, among others. The organizations and individuals responsible for “on-the-ground” security at nuclear facilities or during transport have a key role because that is where security procedures are put into practice and where a failure could be catastrophic.

The nuclear industry operates nuclear reactors, research laboratories, enrichment and reprocessing facilities, fuel fabrication facilities, and transportation assets. Security at those sites and during transport requires the skill and training of many technical, operational, and security personnel and recognition that security is essential for the sustainability of continued peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Despite the broad array of organizations and people responsible for nuclear materials security, the NTI Index focuses primarily on actions at the national level. In particular, the NTI Index focuses on the regulatory environment and national policies affecting nuclear materials security. Although the NTI Index does not assess on-the-ground security procedures at particular facilities, effective implementation is essential for ensuring nuclear security. Therefore, nuclear industry plays a vital role in global nuclear materials security conditions.

The nuclear industry can take several actions to contribute to an effective global nuclear security system. Organizations operating nuclear facilities must have governance practices that place a high priority on security. For example, security must have a prominent place in the management structure, all personnel with security responsibilities must be appropriately trained and certified, and a culture of excellence and continual improvement should be promoted through incentives and individual accountability mechanisms. Facility operators also can take additional actions to improve security by participating in best-practice exchanges and workshops with other operators and by requesting peer reviews of their security practices. Those kinds of actions demonstrate that a facility operator, whether governmental or private, is appropriately executing its stewardship responsibilities. Although the actions take place regularly in the field of nuclear safety, this is not the case in the field of nuclear security.