Switzerland commits to international cooperation in nuclear security

At the 62nd General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA in Vienna, Switzerland last week committed itself to the strengthening of nuclear safety and security at the global level. The Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (ENSI) also participated in bilateral discussions with international partners on the imortant topics of safety culture, emergency preparedness and the international security of nuclear installations and materials.

“The security of nuclear installations is a vital issue. Recent years have seen an increase in the risk of terrorist attacks, and there is a need to discuss the protection of key infrastructure at the international level,” said ENSI’s Director General Hans Wanner on the occasion of this year’s IAEA General Conference in Vienna, where ENSI participated in various international negotiations and bilateral discussions. These talks included greater discussion of the interfaces between nuclear safety in the operation of nuclear installations and security – that is, the protection of nuclear installations against malicious intent.


The protection of nuclear installations and nuclear materials against malicious intent – such as sabotage or theft – involves a number of security precautions.

The security of nuclear installations and nuclear materials is intended to prevent the impairment of nuclear safety through unauthorised actions, the intentional release of radioactive materials into the environment and the theft of nuclear materials. To this end, all Swiss nuclear power plants have a special security dispositive. As with safety, the principle of security is based on defence in depth protection through structural, technical, organisational, personnel and administrative measures.

Review Conference on security in 2021

The Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) is the only legally binding international instrument dedicated to the physical protection of nuclear material. In July 2005, States Parties decided to amend the Convention to strengthen its provisions to make it legally binding to protect nuclear facilities and material in peaceful domestic use, storage and transport. Preventing and fighting crime associated with these materials and installations is one of the aims of the CPPNM.The 2005 Amendment to the CPPNM finally entered into force on 8 May 2016. A Review Conference of the amended CPPNM is expected to take place in 2021, five years after entry-in-force of the Amendment.

In Vienna, ENSI called on the IAEA to begin detailed preparations for this first post-amendment Review Conference – with strong participation by all States Parties: “It is vital that the first Review Conference of the amended CPPNM set a strong example in order to bolster the international security regime and promote joint international cooperation,” said Wanner. “ENSI will also support the international exchange of experience in this area and play an active role both in the preparations and in the CPPNM review process.”

ENSI encourages cooperation in implementing the backfitting obligation

During the international negotiations in Vienna, ENSI also once again made the case for the implementation of the Vienna Declaration on Nuclear Safety and thus for the continuous improvement of nuclear safety of nuclear power plants. Detailed international discussions were also held on the topics of safety and oversight culture, as well as on decommissioning and disposal. Along with emergency preparedness, all of these topics will form a major part of the IAEA’s future work.

The 62nd IAEA General Conference was held from 17 to 21 September 2018 in Vienna.

62nd IAEA General Conference

The 62nd IAEA General Conference was held from 17 to 21 September 2018. ENSI participated as a member of the Swiss delegation, which also includes the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (DDPS) and the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE).