Professional Development Course (PDC): Insider Threats to Nuclear Security

In summer 2014, King’s College (London) and the University of Witwatersrand (Johannesburg) with the support of IAEA held the Professional Development Course (PDC): Insider Threats to Nuclear Security in Johannesburg (South African Republic).


University of the Witwatersrand

More than twenty participants from the regulatory authorities, universities and other scientific and technical institutions from different countries, including the participant from Ukraine (State Scientific and Technical Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety, SSTC NRS), studied insider threats to nuclear facilities and the relevant preventive and protective measures during two weeks.

The PDC was focused on first understanding of the threat posed to nuclear facilities by insiders before discussing how this can be mitigated through the use of different preventive and protective measures. Participants were provided with balanced theoretical and practical knowledge and skills in the area. During two weeks, they were able to apply them to the hypothetical nuclear facility. The course objective was to ensure conditions for the participants to check individually the efficiency of physical protection and accounting and control system on the hypothetical facility. The task was to steal nuclear materials and then improve the relevant systems according to the received knowledge. Such tasks stimulated participants to think about and discuss existing weak points in nuclear security and to search possibilities to solve revealed issues.

During the first week, participants considered basic aspects of the threats posed to nuclear facilities, issues on the general characteristics of the insider and his motivation, difference between theft of nuclear and radiation materials and sabotage, preventive and protective measures. Dr. Chris Hobbs, King’s College London, presented the analysis of current IAEA standards in the course area. He focused on the Guide “Preventive and Protective Measures against Insider Threats” (IAEA NSS No. 8) and stated that this document can be used by representatives of state authorities, regulators and operators. Mr. Hobbs emphasized the importance of IAEA Nuclear Security Recommendations on Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials and Nuclear Facilities (INFCIRC/225/Rev.5). He explained that this document contains information on the insider characteristics and specific principles and measures to counter threats. Along with IAEA documents, Mr. Hobbs stated on the importance and efficiency of procedures developed by the World Institute for Nuclear Security.

Lectors proceeded on the motivations of insiders that are mainly based on ideological, personal, financial and psychological aspects. It was interesting to recognize these motivations through real historical occurrences in the nuclear sphere. Information was presented on the case at Wilmington NPP (USA) in 1979, when the worker stole low-enriched uranium, on the occurrence at Electrokhimpribor (Russia), where workers stole rare isotopes 203Tl, 87Rb and 168Yb, and on many other cases. The course paid attention to the analysis of research made by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that focused on main characteristics of the insiders. As of 1980, financial factor (74%) was the main motivation for thefts in the USA.

During the second week, the course provided for the analysis of insider effect on nuclear operation, learning experience in countering insider threats in other areas, for example, diamond mining, review of national regulatory framework for regulation of issues covered by the course and exchange of experience on safety culture. In addition, the presentation was made on the challenging computer and information safety. Dr. Tyson, the University of London, provided the course participants with main recommendations for reducing insider threats to the safety of computer and information systems at enterprises. Such recommendations are to hold serious examination of the candidates for vacant position, to audit important processes at enterprises related to giving access to secret or service information, to check personnel provided with access to sensitive information, to store a backup copy and others.

Course participants had an opportunity to receive experience of different scientific methods under the course area and to develop own draft scientific program on nuclear security for experts of scientific and technical institutions. SSTC NRS representative developed the scientific plan for professional development of experts in the relevant institutions related to international aspects of nuclear security.

Course participants received useful knowledge and skills on insider nuclear threats used in the scientific programs developed during the course, which can be transferred to experts in their countries or students of the relevant programs.

Website editorial staff 18/08/2014