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REFLECTIONS ON THE INTERNATIONAL NUCLEAR LAW ASSOCIATION CONGRESS IN ABU DHABI (PART 5 OF 7): NUCLEAR SAFETY AND NON-PROLIFERATION

Prospect has been invited to attend the bi-annual meeting of the International Nuclear Lawyers Association (INLA) in Abu Dhabi from 4-8 November 2018 – click here to see further information about the event  

On 6th November 2018, The International Nuclear Law Association congress in Abu Dhabi held important sessions on Nuclear Safety and Non-Proliferation.

This session was chaired by Carlton Stoiber from the USA, a highly experienced Nuclear Lawyer. Carl is co-author of the IAEA’s ‘Handbook on Nuclear Law’, has helped develop, revise and improve nuclear laws in dozens of countries, and has taught and mentored hundreds of nuclear lawyers through IAEA schools, workshops and publications. Apart from a most distinguished career in public service in the USA, which included fascinating experience at the US Department of Justice during the Civil Rights Movement period, he is also a well known cartoonist, and punctuates meetings with the production of sly cartoons, to general consternation. Working with Carl on the nuclear law in a country in the Far East was a chance to learn from a genuine expert.

Kathryn Rauhut, Stimson Centre, USA discussed the concept of Design Basis Threat or ‘DBT’, and the distribution of responsibilities for security between the state and the operator. She covered the evolution of the DBT concept, from the Cold War and Cuban threats in the 1960s to its modern evolution and NRC requirements for aircraft impact assessment and provision for cyber security. She asked “How do you calculate risk when an AK-47 becomes a laptop computer?”, and discussed emerging threats from cyber attacks.

Jacqueline Kempfer, Stimson Centre, USA, said that on cyber attacks, utilities in Connecticut have reported more than a million probes into their systems, on infrastructure such as pipelines and dams. She argued that it was paramount that operators prepared, and showed that they had met the necessary standard of care. The standard of care required was constantly evolving as technology and the challenges to it evolved. In response to questions, the speakers agreed that the operators were truly in the front line for responsibility to defend against cyber attacks, except possibly in some cases of state sponsored attacks. Participants also discussed the low tech threats from people and insiders, for example causing sabotage or introducing viruses, or unwittingly responding to cyber attacks carelessly and thereby increasing exposure to them.

Anthony Wetherall, National University of Singapore spoke about the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials ‘CPPNM’. This covered physical protection provisions, criminalization and related provisions and international cooperation provisions. The CPPNM had originally focussed mainly on physical protection. The Amendment finally entered into force in 2016. Its provisions included new offences of smuggling and illicit trafficking, new definitions, a new suite of relevant IAEA guidance and a set of fundamental principles.

He discussed the application of the Amendment to international and maritime nuclear shipments, and the levels of protection required, as well as the awareness of their obligations of states where nuclear shipments, export and imports or transit took place in a flagged ship within their legal responsibility.

Abdelwahad Biad, Professor in International Law, University of Rouen spoke about the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. He said that the Treaty was prompted by the lack of any real progress in nuclear disarmament, and the failure of Nuclear Weapons States to meet their obligations under the Non Proliferation Treaty for negotiations in good faith to end the arms race at an early date.  It targeted the comprehensive abolition of nuclear weapons. No nuclear power had participated in the conference on the Treaty.

Ben Whittard , Head of Security & Resilience, International Nuclear Services, contributed a paper on the highly topical subject of ‘Cyber Security in Nuclear Transport’.

About the Author

William Wilson is a specialist environmental, regulatory and nuclear lawyer with over 25 years experience in government, private practice and consultancy. He worked as a senior lawyer at the UK Department of the Environment/DETR/Defra, and helped to build up the environmental and nuclear practices at another major law firm, as well as running his own environmental policy consultancies. William has experience of all aspects of environmental law, including water, waste, air quality and industrial emissions, REACH and chemicals regulation, environmental protection, environmental permitting, litigation, legislative drafting, managing primary legislation, negotiating EU Directives and drafting secondary legislation.

Prospect Law is a multi-disciplinary practice with specialist expertise in the energy and environmental sectors with particular experience in the low carbon energy sector. The firm is made up of lawyers, engineers, surveyors and finance experts.

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