Safety and Security

One of the IAEA’s key objectives is to help countries to upgrade their nuclear safety infrastructure and to prepare for and respond to emergencies. Work is keyed to international conventions, standards and guidance, and aims to protect people and the environment from harmful exposure to radiation. Technical cooperation activities focus on building capacities in legislative frameworks, regulatory infrastructure, operational safety, safety assessment, management for safety, safety culture, radiation protection for nuclear and non-nuclear applications, waste management and emergency preparedness and response. Developing countries require a strong safety infrastructure and the ability to manage radioactive sources if they are to derive full benefit from nuclear technologies.


Activities in the security area cover nuclear and radioactive materials, as well as nuclear installations. The goal is to help States prevent, detect and respond to terrorist or other malicious acts – such as illegal possession, use, transfer and trafficking – and to protect nuclear installations and transport against sabotage.

Radioactive wastes can pose safety and security risks to human health and to the environment long after they have served their productive purpose. Some sources require special handling and disposal for just a short period of time, but others can remain highly radioactive far longer. Clear responsibilities of oversight, management, policies and strategies at the national level ensure the sustainable management of all forms of radioactive wastes.

The TC programme provides Member States with expert advice and guidance on all aspects of waste disposal including pre-treatment, treatment and conditioning of waste, its storage and its transportation, and reviews of the licensing process for national radioactive waste repositories and for the safety and technical aspects of radioactive waste disposal programmes. The technical cooperation programme also provides legal, regulatory and strategy advice, technical assistance for feasibility studies for waste repositories and training and expertise for the management and disposition of radioactive wastes.


The accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan followed the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 11 March 2011.

The IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety (GOV/2011/59-GC(55)/14) was developed in response to the Fukushima Daiichi accident1 and was approved by the IAEA Board of Governors and endorsed by the IAEA General Conference in September 2011 (GC(55)/RES/9). It includes an action headed: Review and strengthen IAEA Safety Standards and improve their implementation. This action called upon the Commission on Safety Standards (CSS) and the IAEA Secretariat to review, and revise as necessary, the relevant IAEA safety standards in a prioritized sequence, and called on Member States to utilize the IAEA safety standards as broadly and effectively as possible.

This review covered, among other topics, the regulatory structure, emergency preparedness and response, and nuclear safety and engineering aspects (site selection and evaluation, assessment of extreme natural hazards, including their combined effects, management of severe accidents, station blackout, loss of heat sink, accumulation of explosive gases, the behaviour of nuclear fuel and the safety of spent fuel storage).

For further information, see INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY, The Fukushima Daiichi Accident: Report by the Director General, IAEA, Vienna (2015).

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