By Fabian Stricker
Thursday’s programme commenced with a visit to the World Institute for Nuclear Security (WINS). The visit included briefings by Mr. Pierre Legoux, WINS Head of Programmes, and Ms. Brunelle Battistella, WINS Academy Project Manager. WINS is an INGO aspiring to provide a platform for those accountable for nuclear security to share best security practices.
Mr. Legoux introduced our group to WINS’ mission and operational activities for identifying and sharing best nuclear security practices. In particular, he presented the WINS’ series of best practice guides, which provide managers of the nuclear community with key issues on selected nuclear security topics and offer a self-assessment opportunity. These Guides are published in English and translated whenever practical in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. This is a particularly interesting measure in light of WINS’ slim personal apparatus consisting of nine staff members which are only supported by special consultants and interns.
While the terminological difference between nuclear security and nuclear safety is easy to understand in English, the case is fundamentally different in some other languages which use “safety” and “security” synonymously – hence contributing sometimes to confusion. The international community, and in particular WINS, has invested a lot of efforts to educate people on the difference and, when appropriate, has resorted to utilize “physical protection” as a reference term for its efforts to strengthen an environment in which nuclear and other radioactive materials are present.
For a large part, the briefing focused on effective implementation of nuclear security and the relationship between nuclear operators and national regulatory authorities and associated challenges. Mr Legoux emphasized that there is a tendency for poor communication between the two groups and that nuclear operators may too often see their responsibilities as being simply compliant with regulatory requirements. He also stressed that there is no causal relationship between the amount of money invested in improving a secure infrastructure and achieving the best security for nuclear programmes. He particularly highlighted the need for a commitment for security from the Board down to the field staff, and the importance of providing individuals with accountability for nuclear security with proper skills and competencies.
What makes an effective nuclear security environment?
Source: WINS (2014); Mission, Achievements and Way Forward; http://www.wins.org
Conversely, he stated that some countries were quick to increase spending on nuclear security following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, proved hesitant to maintain their amounts over the course of the following years however. It is noteworthy that maintaining nuclear security infrastructures effectively is costly. Nuclear security requirements are not satisfied by punctual but continuous investments.
Despite multiple challenges faced by the nuclear industry, Mr. Legoux expressed is confidence in the capacities of the private and public stakeholders to coordinate their contributions and to achieve good security. He also indicated that the nuclear security professionals had a lot to learn from safety ones and that synergies should be encouraged. Answering a specific question, Mr. Legoux was of the opinion that based on his experience and various reports publicly available, there is little reason to worry about corruption on behalf of nuclear operators in fulfilling security standards.
Ms. Brunelle Battistella briefed us on the WINS Academy which is the first online certification programme in the world for nuclear security management. The goal of this initiative is to foster professional development, knowledge exchange and leadership innovation in a demonstrable way and work towards a more transparent regulation regime of nuclear security.
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