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Enhancing Nuclear Security Through Education And Training

A qualified and well-trained workforce is required to run and manage effective national nuclear security programs. Specialists in nuclear security education and on-the-job support met at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) this month to discuss best practices and strengthen international cooperation.

From August 10-12, representatives from some 70 educational institutions set priorities for the coming year’s academic programs in nuclear security within the framework of the International Nuclear Security Education Network (INSEN). The annual meeting of the International Network for Nuclear Security Training and Support Centers (NSSC) also took place in August.

Members of both networks – one for educational institutions and the other for support centers – meet yearly and work with the IAEA to promote human resource development in nuclear security in member countries.

At the INSEN meeting, participating educational institutions provided short status updates on the implementation of their respective action plans, including revision and development of teaching materials, ongoing and planned professional development courses, and achievements in the promotion of nuclear security education and INSEN.

Established five years ago by the IAEA and a group of universities as a collaborative network for higher education in nuclear security, INSEN now includes 139 member institutions from 50 countries.

Academic faculty members from these institutions work together with experts from the IAEA’s Division of Nuclear Security to develop teaching materials and textbooks based on IAEA nuclear security guidance, and run academic courses, modules and degree programs that serve over 2600 students around the world.

Members also met with colleagues from the NSSC Network to advance collaborative activities and plan for the future.

“My university has benefited from the INSEN professional development courses and teaching materials,” said Professor Oum Keltoum Hakam from Ibn Tofail University in Morocco. “We noted that nuclear security education is spreading in many universities worldwide and hopefully will help promote nuclear security and develop the next generation of nuclear security professionals.”

At the NSSC Network meeting participants drew up a list of strategic priorities and direction to enhance collaboration among national NSSCs and the IAEA.  These priorities include, among others, an expanded role for the NSSCs in nuclear security training currently performed by the IAEA and in maintaining and calibrating nuclear security detection equipment on a regional basis.

The NSSC Network, established in 2012, has 50 member countries, as well as observers from the European Union, European Commission, UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, World Institute for Nuclear Security, The Nuclear Threat Initiative and the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

At the meeting, the IAEA also provided an overview of its program in nuclear security human resource development, and outlined the scope of its support for the Network and for NSSCs in individual member states.

At a joint meeting representatives from both INSEN and the NSCC networks discussed ongoing initiatives and future plans, particularly in areas and regions where their activities converge. They identified opportunities for collaboration.

“Sustainability is an essential element of the national nuclear security regime, and human resource development is one of the main measures to achieve it,” said Alexey Kazennov, a training officer at the IAEA Division of Nuclear Security.

The need for human resource development programs in nuclear security has been underlined at several IAEA general conferences and board of governors’ meetings. Successive IAEA Nuclear Security Plans give high priority to assisting States in establishing educational programs in nuclear security in order to ensure the sustainability of nuclear security improvements. 

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