An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) follow-up mission has completed a 12-day mission to Switzerland at the request of the Swiss Government. The visit was hosted by the Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (ENSI), the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) and the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).

The mission concludes the cycle, which began with the IPPAS mission to Switzerland in 2018. For the first time, this IPPAS mission covered all five modules of the IPPAS programme, with a review of the security of radioactive material, associated facilities and associated activities conducted in addition to reviews of the nuclear security regime, nuclear facilities, transport and information and computer security.

The team visited the NPPs in Leibstadt and Beznau and the Central Interim Storage Facility (ZWILAG) in Würenlingen, all located in the northern canton of Aargau. Concerning the security of radioactive material, the team conducted in-depth discussions at the Federal Office of Public Health in the federal city of Bern and visited the University Hospital of Lausanne and the Non-Destructive Testing company LorNDT in the western part of Switzerland.

Switzerland ratified the 2005 Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) in October 2008. The Amendment significantly strengthens the original CPPNM, mainly by extending its scope and setting out obligations for Parties to ensure physical protection of all nuclear facilities and nuclear material used for peaceful purposes in domestic use, storage and transport.

The team identified significant progress in addressing the findings of the 2018 mission and observed how the nuclear security regime has been enhanced in Switzerland since then. It was noted that Switzerland has a strong nuclear security regime and is committed to continuous improvement in the security of nuclear and other radioactive material.

The review team, led by Pedro Lardiez Holgado, Head of the Nuclear Security Division of the Nuclear Safety Council of Spain, included eight experts from Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, Spain, Türkiye, the UK, the USA and one IAEA staff member. Meetings were held with officials ENSI, SFOE, FOPH, the Federal Office of Police, the Aargau Cantonal Police and the operators of the visited facilities.

“The follow-up mission in Switzerland shows its commitment to nuclear security and its openness in receiving an external review of the national nuclear security regime,” said Arvydas Stadalnikas, Head of the Integrated Nuclear Security Approaches Unit at the IAEA Division of Nuclear Security, during the mission’s closing ceremony. “The inclusion of one additional module on the security of radioactive material underscores Switzerland’s integrated approach towards physical protection. The mission’s findings indicate a well-established national nuclear security regime and its alignment with the IAEA nuclear security guidance.”

"I would like to thank everyone involved in Switzerland for their great commitment to the extensive preparations and for their dedication during the two-week peer review," said ENSI Director General Marc Kenzelmann at the end of the mission. "We are very grateful to the IPPAS team for their critical scrutiny of the security measures. The recommendations of the international experts are extremely important for ENSI, the Federal Office of Public Health, the Swiss Federal Office of Energy and for further partners in the nuclear security domain. We need to work together to systematically and consistently strengthen nuclear security in Switzerland."

Image: Members of the IPPAS team visite the Leibstadt nuclear power plant (courtesy of Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate, ENSI)