Conference on Nuclear Security: Shaping the future

ENSI is part in a five-day International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) conference: The fourth “International Conference on Nuclear Security” (ICONS) will take place in Vienna from 20 to 24 May 2024, with Switzerland committed to a strong system of international security.

The conference consists of two parts. The ministerial segment on 20 May offers the opportunity to present national positions. The rest of the week will provide an opportunity for an intense exchange of experience and views on legal, technical and regulatory aspects of global nuclear security for representatives of governments, public authorities, international organisations, civil society and experts from research and industry.

The main aim of the conference was to adopt a ministerial declaration as a political vision for the coming years. However, no political consensus could be found at the conference and this vision is now set out in a joint declaration by the two co-presidents of the conference. This unofficial declaration describes the IAEA’s tasks in the field of nuclear security and is not legally binding. Switzerland has argued that the declaration should support the strengthening of global nuclear security and that the interface between safety and security should also be considered in the design of new reactor types.

Another topic will concern the IAEA’s Nuclear Security Training and Demonstration Centre (NSTDC) in Seibersdorf, Austria, which opened in October 2023. This centre aims to strengthen national capabilities to counter nuclear terrorism. The establishment of the NSTDC will help countries to address unique challenges and implement complex nuclear security projects through training, research and development.

Switzerland receives the Summary Report of the IPPAS nuclear security mission

During the ICONS, IAEA Director General Rafael M. Grossi presented the Summary Report of the Follow Up Mission 2023 of the International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) to the Director of the Swiss Federal Office of Energy, Benoît Revaz and ENSI Director General Marc Kenzelmann on behalf of all partners. Switzerland was audited by IAEA experts between 30 October and 10 November 2023 as part of the IPPAS Follow Up Mission. The focus was on protecting against criminal activities, theft and sabotage. In particular, the international team of experts assessed:

  • General legal and regulatory conditions,
  • The security and IT security of nuclear installations,
  • The security of nuclear goods and
  • The security of highly radioactive material during handling and storage.

The IPPAS Summary Report gives Switzerland good marks when it comes to nuclear security. The expert panel formulated recommendations on how Switzerland can further improve its security system.

ENSI Director Marc Kenzelmann underlined the thorough work of the IPPAS expert team and was very satisfied with the result, stating “The detailed report by the international experts shows that our nuclear security is broadly based and confirms both to us and our partners that we have been adopting the correct approach in our joint work to systematically and consistently strengthen nuclear security in Switzerland.”

Switzerland at the ICONS

The Swiss delegation, led by Benoît Revaz, Director of the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE), is made up of representatives from ENSI, the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) and the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA).

The issue of nuclear security has increasingly appeared on the international agenda in the wake of the attacks of 11 September 2001. In 2002, the IAEA first adopted a resolution on nuclear security and the prevention of terrorist activities.

The ministerial conference of the IAEA on nuclear security first took place in 2013. It was instigated to strengthen nuclear security worldwide and prevent terrorist activities. In 2016, the more than 170 members met again in Vienna to define and optimise the coordinating role of the IAEA in nuclear security. The third conference took place in 2020.