NTI Vice President for Nuclear Materials Security Scott Roecker and Program Officer Jessica Bufford presented at the first International Conference on Nuclear Law hosted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna from March 25-29, 2022. Nearly one thousand representatives from government, the nuclear industry, and civil society attended the unique global forum to discuss current issues in nuclear law ranging from nuclear safety, security, and safeguards to nuclear liability and waste management.
In a plenary session, Roecker encouraged the group to revisit wide area environmental sampling as a tool for evaluating compliance with nuclear material safeguards. This technique reveals the presence of nuclear material or nuclear activity within a large geographic area through the collection of air, water, soil, and other environmental data over time. Wide area environmental sampling was first considered nearly 25 years ago as part of the Additional Protocol—the legal agreement that allows the IAEA to inspect a country’s declared and undeclared nuclear facilities—but it was never used because the technology and inspector hours required for implementation rendered it too costly. Roecker explained the technological advances in the past decade that now make wide area environmental sampling a more feasible approach and suggested that it was important to rethink its application on a smaller, targeted scale, rather than the country-wide scenarios previously considered.
Bufford spoke during a panel discussion on the Review Conference of the Amended Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials (A/CPPNM) alongside several other experts, including A/CPPNM Review Conference Co-President Ambassador Benno Laggner. While the A/CPPNM Review Conference recently determined that the convention adequately protects nuclear materials in the current threat environment, the deliberations that informed this conclusion took place behind closed doors. Bufford presented three criteria for more transparently evaluating the adequacy of the A/CPPNM: the scope of the treaty, the content of the provisions, and the implementation of the convention. Read the full text of her analysis here. Read more about NTI’s involvement in the A/CPPNM Review Conference here.