IAEA guidance sought against cyberattacks on nuclear facilities

Member states of the International Atomic Energy Agency are set to agree at their upcoming ministerial meeting on the importance of IAEA guidance for international efforts against the growing threat of cyberattacks on nuclear facilities.

A draft declaration prepared for the July 1 to 5 conference in Vienna, read by Kyodo News, says the member states "remain concerned about the threat of nuclear and radiological terrorism and of other malicious acts or sabotage related to facilities and activities involving nuclear and other radioactive material."

The ministerial conference, the first to be held by the IAEA on nuclear security, will be attended by experts from more than 100 countries and 20 international organizations to discuss the threat of nuclear terrorism.

Against cyberattacks and their potential impact on nuclear security, the IAEA is encouraged to "make further efforts to foster international cooperation" and assist member states in the area "through the establishment of appropriate guidance," according to the draft.

Despite "substantial progress" achieved in recent years, "more needs to be done to further strengthen nuclear security worldwide," the draft says.

Khammar Mrabit, director of the IAEA's office of nuclear security, also confirmed at a press briefing Tuesday that "many countries are asking for help through training to establish some capability and capacity to deal with cybersecurity and to protect information."

The draft declaration recognizes the threat to international security posed by the potential theft or smuggling of nuclear material and urges the member states to "maintain effective security of all nuclear material under their control."

It also encourages the states to "further minimize the use of high enriched uranium" applicable for military use. The draft calls for holding international conferences on nuclear security every three years.

The IAEA will use conclusions and recommendations from the upcoming conference for the Nuclear Security Plan 2014-2017.

The plan, a general guideline for nuclear security in the following years, is to be approved at a quarterly Board of Governors meeting in September for endorsement at the IAEA's general conference.