The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has opened a unique nuclear security training centre, the first international facility of its type, to support the growing efforts to tackle global nuclear terrorism. IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi officially opened the IAEA Nuclear Security Training & Demonstration Centre during a ceremony at the Agency’s Seibersdorf laboratories in Austria, attended by representatives from 45 countries and territories.

The centre will provide more than 2000 square meters of specialised technical infrastructure and equipment for course participants to learn about the physical protection of nuclear and other radioactive material, as well as detection and response to criminal acts involving nuclear material and facilities.

“Nuclear security is one of the most important areas of our work to make sure that nuclear material never falls into the wrong hands,” said Grossi. “The international nuclear security centre of excellence – opened today – is where experts on nuclear security and the physical protection of nuclear material from all over the world will be trained to hone their skills.”

Requests to the Agency for training in nuclear security have increased in recent years as more countries embark on nuclear power programmes and after the 2016 entry into force of the Amendment of the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) – the only legally binding international instrument in the area of physical protection of nuclear material.

Over two floors, the new centre contains simulated environments, virtual reality tools and advanced software. It will provide hands on practice on nuclear security systems for the physical protection of nuclear facilities, information and computer security, nuclear forensics, major public events and other nuclear security areas of work.

“We are giving countries the tools to do nuclear better, safer and in a secure way”, said Grossi. The centre will welcome the first trainees shortly for a course on security management of radioactive material, one of the 23 training courses and workshops to be offered.

“By building this new centre, the IAEA can offer unique training activities to address existing gaps using specialised up-to-date equipment, computer-based simulation tools and advanced training methods,” said Elena Buglova, Director of the IAEA Division of Nuclear Security.

The centre is part of a multi-purpose building that was built with over €18m ($19m) in extra-budgetary funding by 15 donors, as well as in-kind contributions, bolstering the capabilities of the IAEA to respond to countries’ needs in capacity building for nuclear security.

Image: The IAEA's new Nuclear Security Training & Demonstration Centre in Vienna (courtesy of IAEA)