Washington, D.C. –The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will host 44 people from 33 countries at the Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, from April 20 to May 8, 2015 for the 25th International Training Course (ITC) on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities. The ITC is considered the IAEA’s flagship training on physical protection, and has evolved to reflect industry best practices and up-to-date technology for physical protection.

The United States and the IAEA began this joint effort in 1978 to educate and train technical experts, policy makers, and nuclear operators from around the world on how to protect nuclear facilities from terrorists and other groups who seek to steal material that could be used in a nuclear weapon. NNSA and the IAEA co-sponsored the three-week course every 18 months.

This year, to commemorate the 25th ITC, NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Anne Harrington, and IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security Denis Flory will participate in opening ceremonies. Harrington and Flory will celebrate over three decades of successful ITC collaboration, and share their perspectives on how global threats have changed and what those changes mean for the mission of protecting nuclear materials and facilities.

“Threats to nuclear materials and facilities often seem very abstract, but in this course we provide practical training that equips participants to implement the highest standards of nuclear security,” said Deputy Administrator Harrington. “It is our privilege to co-host one of the world’s preeminent courses on physical protection, and to celebrate over thirty-five years of cooperation with the IAEA to advance our shared nuclear security objectives. Sandia has consistently provided a unique training experience and dynamic environment, allowing participants to immerse themselves in key concepts and technologies. We are also very proud of the ITC’s extensive alumni network, which includes over 800 participants in 73 countries.

“Our long-established cooperation over this International Training Course is a perfect opportunity to strengthen nuclear security in the IAEA Member States, through the development of practical competences in the field,” said Denis Flory.

Through formal classroom training, hands-on experiments and sub-group exercises, the ITC participants learn international legal instruments and IAEA guidance on current physical protection concepts and technology. The course also enables participants to initiate and operate effective security programs in their respective countries that are in line with the physical protection requirements established in the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material. Using a performance-based approach to the design and evaluation of physical protection systems, the ITC assists international partners with developing and implementing their own systems. The landmark course also helps countries self-evaluate and measure the effectiveness of their security systems for both nuclear material and nuclear facilities against their country-specific threats.

Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.

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