The federal government, through the National Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC), has underscored the need to ensure the reduction of insider abuse of its nuclear assets, saying that aside the deployment of physical protection like the use of security forces, persons manning the facilities were even more critical to their safety.
To this end, it noted that a multi-stakeholder template had been designed to promptly identify and address such security threats, including software compromise and other issues that may disrupt the safe utilisation of nuclear energy in the country.
Speaking at the opening of a three-day national workshop on nuclear security themed: “Beyond Physical Protection Systems in Nuclear Facilities,” Chairman, Chief Executive Officer of NAEC, Prof. Yusuf Ahmed, listed nuclear security, nuclear safety and nuclear safeguards as the three pillars of national nuclear energy programmes.
Represented by the Director, Nuclear Technology Centre (NTC), Hamman Tukur, Ahmed stated that it was essential to ensure the protection of workers, people and environment wherever nuclear facilities are operated in the country.
According to him, nuclear security had become a major topic after the terrorist attack in 2001 that destroyed the twin towers and the World Trade Centre in the United States.
He stated that the event ushered in a global climate of fear from which the global community was yet to recover, even as world leaders have resolved to guard nuclear materials and allied facilities to ensure that such materials do not get into the possession of non-state actors.
To guarantee the entrenchment of this goal, he noted that several nuclear security summits had been held globally with far-reaching decisions made via international legal instruments that are binding on all nations, thereby entwining it with national security issues.
He added: “One of such international instruments is the International Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials (CPPNM) and its amendments thereof, of which Nigeria is a signatory.
“ It places the responsibility of securing nuclear material squarely on the state and NAEC; which is a specialised agency of government, with nuclear materials domiciled in various centres under its supervision.
“Nuclear security is a governance regime that proactively seeks to ensure the prevention, detection and response to theft or any intentional or malicious act on nuclear materials and associated facilities.”
Ahmed explained that what readily comes to mind whenever nuclear security is mentioned is the usual hardware that is most visible, but noted that attention must be paid to the ‘software’, which are the humans who man and manage the security surveillance systems, the close circuit television cameras (CCTVs), among others.
He argued that every hardware system is only as good as the software operating system within it, pointing out that the centrality of the human factor in the overall dynamics of the physical protection systems is what matters most.
Earlier, an Assistant Director at NAEC, Mr Inemo Adaka, explained that the workshop was a forum to learn and detect malicious acts against nuclear facilities in the country.
“We want to ensure that beyond guards and guns and gates, we want to do more. We want to guard against insider threats, strengthen leadership and come up with a sound template to operate with,” he noted.
Adaka explained that leadership, insider threats, calibre of humans manning the facilities remain very important to the safety of the assets in the country, especially by employees who are disgruntled.
– This Day