Switzerland wants to strengthen its nuclear security regime with an IPPAS mission

Switzerland has submitted an application for an IPPAS mission to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This should take place in the middle of 2018 and aims at strengthening Switzerland’s nuclear security.

During the Nuclear Security Summit in March 2016, Federal Councillor Johann Schneider-Ammann announced that Switzerland was planning to host an IPPAS mission. The IAEA approved the application prepared by the Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (ENSI) and the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) for a mission to take place in the middle of 2018, and thus triggered starting of preparatory work.

“Alongside nuclear safety, we also oversee the protection of Swiss nuclear installations against malicious intent. Based on an integral approach, we check the technical, structural, organisational, administrative and personnel measures of the operator in respect of security,” explains Rosa Sardella, Director of the Radiation Protection Division and thus also responsible for nuclear security at ENSI. The ENSI Board raised security to one of its six strategic priorities for the period 2016 to 2019.

Safety and security of nuclear installations

Nuclear safety relates to the protection of the public and the environment against dangers arising from the operation of a nuclear installation. In contrast, security relates to the protection of a nuclear installation against unauthorised influences such as sabotage or terrorism. Both security and safety relate to technical, structural, organisational, administrative and personnel measures.

Independent external assessment

“With the IPPAS mission we will receive an independent external view of international technical experts on the Swiss nuclear security system and want to check where there are further opportunities for improvement,” explains Rosa Sardella.

Missions of the International Physical Protection Advisory Service IPPAS offer information exchange and advice and thus enable an increase in knowledge and trust and the identification of potential improvements in nuclear security. In particular, the international experts should support Switzerland in,

  • …, using the IAEA nuclear security guidance as the basis for regulatory requirements relating to the development and operation of physical protection systems.
  • …, discussing best practices in the area of physical security with those responsible in other countries and thus benefiting from new concepts.

Content of the mission

The IPPAS mission in Switzerland will consider the following aspects:

  • Nuclear Security Regime
  • Security of nuclear installations
  • Security when transporting nuclear goods
  • IT-security of nuclear installations

ENSI and the SFOE will share overall project management of the IPPAS mission. In addition numerous other authorities and partners will be involved during the mission.

The IPPAS mission

While IRRS missions relate to nuclear safety, IPPAS missions are concerned with nuclear security. A mission of the International Physical Protection Advisory Service is an advisory and support service of the IAEA. Within it, experienced foreign experts provide an external perspective of the legal and regulatory framework conditions in Switzerland. ENSI is legally obliged to undergo such checks by the IAEA.

Since the first IPPAS mission to be performed anywhere in the world in 1996, the IAEA has carried out over 70 missions in more than 40 countries. The last IPPAS mission in Switzerland took place in 2005.