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ANSTO ICONS delegation group

ANSTO joins Australian Government delegation at IAEA’s ICONS 2024 conference on nuclear security

Nuclear security experts and officials from Australia’s nuclear agencies have convened at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna, Austria last week for the International Conference on Nuclear Security (ICONS).

The theme of the ICONS 2024 conference – Shaping the Future – marked the fourth instalment of the key event for the global nuclear security community, following the most recent conference held in 2020. 

The forum brought together over 2,000 participants from across the IAEA’s Member States, including ministers, senior officials, policymakers, and nuclear security experts to discuss the future of nuclear security worldwide, and exchange information, share best practice, and facilitate international cooperation opportunities. 

Australia served as Co-President of ICONS 2024 with Kazakhstan, led by Assistant Foreign Minister, The Hon Tim Watts MP and Australian Ambassador to Austria and Permanent Representative to the IAEA, Mr Ian Biggs. 

ANSTO warmly welcomed the opportunity to join the Australian Government contingent of nuclear agencies, alongside the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (ASNO), the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) and representatives from other Australian agencies to showcase Australia’s strong, long-standing commitment to nuclear security. 

ANSTO ICONS contingent
Australia's delegation to the International Conference on Nuclear Security (ICONS) 2024 in Vienna. The delegation comprised officials from DFAT, ASNO, ARPANSA, ANSTO, ARWA and ASA.

Through ANSTO, Australia is a world leader in nuclear security operations and nuclear security science, strengthened by its longstanding membership of the IAEA. Underpinned by pioneering research in nuclear forensics, border security technology, and approaches to improving cybersecurity in nuclear enterprises, ANSTO is a strong supporter of global nuclear security and the peaceful use of nuclear technologies in Australia, the Asia-Pacific and around the world.

Key areas of focus during the five-day conference included physical protection, insider threat mitigation, cybersecurity, radioactive source security, and nuclear security science.

Featuring a range of panel presentations, technical sessions, side-events, exhibitions, and ministerial statements, we have captured a number of key highlights for ANSTO, including:

Memorandum of Understanding for Australia and the United States

ANSTO signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to enhance the Australian and United States partnership in nuclear security science and the physical protection of nuclear materials and facilities.

The signing of the MoU took place on 22 May and formally solidifies the strategic collaboration between the two respective organisations on matters of nuclear security science technology exchange. 

ANSTO’s Group Executive for Nuclear Security, Safety and Safeguards Dr Miles Apperley and NNSA’s Acting Principal Deputy Administrator Corey Hinderstein

Read more about the MoU here – Australia and United States strengthen nuclear security collaboration with MoU | ANSTO

CORIS360® taking up residence at the IAEA 

Assistant Foreign Minister, The Hon Tim Watts MP and IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi officially opened the Australian Government exhibition booth at ICONS 2024, remarking on Australia’s contribution to the development of world’s best practice in nuclear security, and its commitment to working with the international nuclear community.

The exhibition booth launch included a technical demonstration of ANSTO’s own innovative radiation and detection imaging technology, CORIS360®. Minister Watts announced a CORIS360® unit will be provided to the IAEA on loan, enabling the agency to gain hands-on experience of the innovative Australian technology and assess its versatility and efficacy in a range of nuclear security applications.

ANSTO Group Executive Dr Miles Apperley explained the CORIS360® technology produces precise, high-quality images to pinpoint the identity and exact location of radiation in an area. 

“One of the most challenging aspects of working in an environment where radiation maybe present is that you cannot see it or sense it. Fortunately, the innovative functionality of CORIS360® is helping to make the invisible, visible,” Dr Apperley said. 

“It’s an incredible exemplar of technology that is supporting nuclear security and putting safety at the forefront of any operational decision making.

“We’re looking forward to shipping one of our CORIS360® units to the IAEA to share in the practicality of this technology and demonstrate the security benefits it can deliver.”

A modified version of CORIS360® was part of an instrumental suite of devices used in the discovery and retrieval of a missing radioactive capsule along a 1,400 kilometre stretch of outback highway in Western Australia last year. Both ANSTO and ARPANSA formed part of a multi-agency search response for the missing source. 

CORIS360® was also part of a package of assistance provided by ANSTO and ARPANSA to Ukraine in 2022, to assist with the IAEA-led support efforts.

 (Left to right)) Dr Miles Apperley, ANSTO Group Executive Nuclear Safety Security and Stewardship, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi and Assistant Foreign Minister, The Hon Tim Watts MP

IAEA Delegation of the Future

Following a competitive selection process, ANSTO Nuclear Security Advisor, Alex Vipond was successfully selected join to the IAEA’s ICONS 2024 Nuclear Security Delegation of the Future. 

Alex is one of two Australians in the small cohort of students and early-career professionals, who will gain real world experience in leadership, diplomacy, and international nuclear security.

Under the program, delegates actively contribute to the international discussions on the future of nuclear security, with selected participants able to serve as assistant technical officers, rapporteurs, hosting future technical sessions and side-events.

Alex currently works closely with ANSTO’s nuclear physical protection system and was a lead author of the 2020-21 OPAL Reactor Periodic Safety and Security Review, which covered a deep examination of safety and security effectiveness of ANSTO’s OPAL multipurpose reactor over a 10-year period. 

Minister and delegates
Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs meets with Mr Alex Vipond (Nuclear Security Advisor, ANSTO) and Ms Nicole White (Mechanical Engineer, Australian Submarine Corporation, and nuclear science and technology Masters student at the University of Manchester) in the sidelines of ICONS 2024 in Vienna