An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) International Nuclear Security Advisory Service (INSServ) mission to Costa Rica has assessed the nuclear security regime for nuclear and other radioactive material out of regulatory control (MORC). The team found that several processes and measures for the nuclear security regime in relation to MORC had been implemented and encouraged Costa Rica to further enhance national coordination for the implementation of nuclear security measures for MORC.

The mission was carried out at the request of the Judicial Investigation Agency (OIJ) of Costa Rica and in close coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Worship (MOFA). Sthe team included seven experts from Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Spain, the US and the IAEA.

The team conducted a series of meetings with officials from the Ministry of Presidency, MOFA, the OIJ, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Health, the Fire Department, National Emergency Commission, the 911 Emergency System, the University of Costa Rica, and the Atomic Energy Commission.

The INSServ team visited facilities of the OIJ, including its Forensic Science Laboratory, the Directorate of Intelligence & National Security (DIS), the Special Intervention Unit (UEI), the Fire Department, the University of Costa Rica, and the 911 Emergency Centre in San Jose.

“Costa Rica is in the process of establishing a framework to regulate and respond to events related to MORC”, said Team Leader Carlos Nogueira from Brazil. “We appreciate the high level of cooperation throughout the mission and hope that the mission’ recommendations and suggestions will assist the country to strengthen its nuclear security systems and measures for MORC.”

The team said Costa Rica is on track to achieve tangible results in establishing a nuclear security regime for MORC. However, it recommended further work on the national response system for criminal or intentional unauthorised acts involving MORC, and the introduction of relevant offences and appropriate penalties in its national legal framework. Further recommendations addressed aspects of coordination among competent authorities, especially with regard to the definition of different roles and responsibilities.

The team identified the timely notification of incidents and emergencies to relevant authorities by Costa Rica´s 911 Emergency System as a good practice. The team also acknowledged that Costa Rica had successfully developed and deployed nuclear security systems and measures for the FIFA U20 Women´s World Cup in 2022 with IAEA assistance.

“The full scope INSServ mission to Costa Rica builds on the country’s systematic cooperation with the IAEA for the enhancement of MORC-related nuclear security detection and response systems,” said Elena Buglova, Director of the IAEA Division of Nuclear Security, during the closing session. “We welcome that Costa Rica hosted this mission, which is also the first INSServ conducted under the new INSServ guidelines for Latin America and the Caribbean.”

“We would like to express our gratitude for the guidance the IAEA has provided to Costa Rica through the assessment. We appreciate the suggestions and recommendations of the international team of experts. They will be of great benefit to the national nuclear security regime, particularly in enhancing the coordination among competent authorities,” said Ambassador Alejandro Solano, Vice Minister of Multilateral Affairs, MOFA.

Image courtesy of IAEA