NNSA, INL Partner to Strengthen Training of U.S. Nuclear Inspectors Supporting IAEA

Press Release
Jul 12, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), in partnership with Idaho National Laboratory (INL), today announced the completion of a new course aimed at strengthening the training of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors from the United States. The course, funded by NNSA’s Office of Nonproliferation and International Security’s Next Generation Safeguards Initiative (NGSI)  and hosted by INL, gave prospective U.S. candidates in-depth, hands-on training with IAEA inspection equipment and procedures.

“NNSA’s efforts to enhance the global safeguards regime are an important part of our effort to implement the President’s nuclear security agenda,” said Anne Harrington, NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation. “International safeguards inspections, and the men and women who implement them, help the IAEA to provide credible assurances to the international community that states’ civil nuclear programs are used exclusively for peaceful purposes and to detect and deter clandestine nuclear weapons programs.  This course has helped to strengthen the U.S. safeguards technical base, while fostering the necessary support and leadership needed to carry out the IAEA’s mission.”

Trainees embarked on an intensive two-week course taught by former IAEA inspectors and safeguards technology experts who now work at INL. Using more than two dozen hands-on modules, course participants trained on the equipment used in IAEA inspections. One such module allowed the trainees to visit INL's Advanced Test Reactor to use a device that indicates whether used fuel pools hold dummy elements or fuel that actually had been inside a working reactor.

One of the IAEA's primary responsibilities is to inspect countries to independently verify that the declarations made by states about their nuclear material and activities are correct and complete. The course is designed to provide a strong background in nuclear issues, which will in turn help strengthen U.S. citizens’ applications for IAEA nuclear safeguards inspector positions. Americans currently represent approximately 10 percent of IAEA inspectors.

Administered by the IAEA, international safeguards are a central pillar of the nuclear nonproliferation regime. NNSA launched NGSI to develop the policies, concepts, technologies, expertise, and infrastructure necessary to sustain the international safeguards system as its mission evolves over the next 25 years. NGSI is designed to revitalize and strengthen the U.S. safeguards technical and human capital base, recognizing that without a robust program the United States will not be in a position to exercise leadership or provide the necessary support to the safeguards regime.

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Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science in the nation’s national security enterprise. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability, and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; reduces the global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.