Safeguarding the Future at 2014 MIIS Safeguards Course

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NPWG member and NSSC research assistant Adriana Ureche attended a one-week intensive course on International Nuclear Safeguards Policy and Information Analysis hosted by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS) in Monterey, CA on June 2-6, 2014. The course is co-hosted by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) with support of the U.S. Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration’s Next Generation Safeguards Initiative. Ureche shares her experience and reflections below.

Upon entering the International Nuclear Safeguards Policy and Information Analysis Course at MIIS, I was primarily science orientated. Through my participation in the course, I gained policy expertise useful for designing technology to fit regulation specifications and placing it in the most strategic sites to understand the physics and policy implications. Whether the speaker was policy or technically focused, the speaker placed his field in the context of the other to provide a well-rounded experience. I applied to attend the MIIS course to gain a better awareness of the applications of the technological developments and natural physics phenomena. For me, the addition of the policy framework grounded the impact of detectors and the uranium fuel cycle on the present international community.

Dr. George Moore has led this one-week tuition-free course for the past two years. This was the seventh annual running of the course since 2008. Participants are primarily composed of graduate students and young professionals, but the inclusion of undergraduates is increasing.

Legal advisors, analysts, and inspectors for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) presented on the following topics: the role of IAEA and international safeguards in the nuclear nonproliferation regime, events in and effects of the history of international nuclear safeguards, state-level safeguards analysis, case-study analysis (e.g., Japan, North Korea, Syria, and Myanmar), and safeguards inspections. Presentations were a balance between the speaker and questions from the students that often inspired the presentation to take new directions.

Laura Rockwood, Attorney at Law, former Section Head for the Non-Proliferation and Policy Making at the IAEA’s Office of Legal Affairs, and Dr. Moore, former Senior Analyst in the Office of Nuclear Security at the IAEA, presented the foundation of Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Safeguards, the history following the NPT, and the departmental structure of the IAEA. They connected political influences and impacts with advancements in technology and science, showing how they seamlessly coincide.

Mark Schanfein, Senior Nonproliferation Advisor at Idaho National Laboratory, George Anzelon, Nonproliferation Specialist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Shirley Johnson, former Section Head in the SGOA Division for reprocessing and research facilities in the Japan, guided us through the tools used and situations experienced by IAEA inspectors in the field. We also participated in hands-on activities using our smart phones as detectors and the Hand Monitor 5 Detector with gamma radiation dose-rate meter and gamma spectrometer built-in. Our analyst speakers, Celia Reynolds, Jon Essner, and William Moore, presented the case studies demonstrating the implications and ramifications of policy and technology. Dr. William Potter, Professor of Nonproliferation Studies and Founding Director of the James Martin CNS at MIIS, led us in a discussion on current NPT issues. Aside from presentations and discussion, we were also placed in groups to create and present our own case study on Iran. By researching the issue through Director General reports to the IAEA Board of Governors in the context of safeguards policy, we formulated more comprehensive responses to questions facing the international nonproliferation community.

From the course, I learned about the interplay between policy and technology to build, improve and inform the other. I gained an understanding of safeguards policy and nuclear engineering’s role in it that I can incorporate in my technical focus and improve and tailor my research in nonproliferation. Whereas textbooks taught me the physics of the uranium fuel cycle, the safeguards course taught me the physical limitations and legal restrictions imposed on detectors and inspectors. This opportunity was an enriching experience for me in an interdisciplinary environment and I wish to encourage colleagues to participate in this program next summer.

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