National Progress Report: France

During the third Nuclear Security Summit, held in The Hague (Netherlands) on March 24th and 25th, 2014, France made a number of commitments – especially in the field of the security of radioactive sources. Since the NSS 2014, France has been very active to fulfil these commitments and, in so doing, to continue bringing a significant contribution to the global nuclear security through its actions in all the areas covered by the Nuclear Security Summit.

1)   Reminder of the main commitments made by France during the NSS 2014

During the NSS 2014, France made the following commitment.

A/      President Hollande announced that the security of radioactive sources should become a major political priority regarding the risks associated. In this regard, he announced that France would increase its international efforts on the following three axes of work: 1) strengthening further the content and the implementation of the international framework applicable to sources, 2) promoting international exchanges on the development and spread of technologies alternative to high activity sources when technically and economically feasible, and 3) deepening further the cooperation between sources supplier States to improve further the security of disused sources once withdrawn from service.

B/      France confirmed its will to deepen its efforts to identify, secure and, if need be, repatriate French-origin disused sources currently in States with insufficient resources to manage them - consistently with the President’s announcements.

C/      Regarding the international framework on nuclear security, the French President made a number of commitments:

  • Following on its ratification of the 2005 Amendment to the CPPNM[1] in 2013, France announced that it would submit to the IAEA a national implementation report prior to the NSS 2016 – in accordance with CPPNM article 14.1;
  • France also announced it would support a better implementation of the relevant international instruments (CPPNM, ICSANT[2] and Joint Convention[3]) and IAEA guidance related to radioactive sources (Code of conduct[4] and Supplementary Guidance especially[5]);

D/      France also announced it would request the IAEA to organize a follow-up IPPAS mission. Indeed, in 2011, France had hosted a successful IAEA International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) mission on its territory – at the power plant of Graveline. France intends to send its request to the IAEA for a follow up mission to be organized on its territory ideally in 2017.

E/      Since 2012, France had been involved in international effort on the minimization of civilian uses of high-enriched uranium (HEU), especially to develop, qualify and certify alternative high-density low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuels for high-performances research reactors – along with the Belgium, the Republic of Korea and the United States. On the occasion of the NSS 2014, France then renewed its commitment to actively support these international efforts that should ultimately enable to convert HEU-powered facilities

F/      France also renewed its commitment to support the efforts undertaken since 2012 by the Working group on the security of nuclear transportation, chaired by Japan following of a NSS 2012 gift basket.

2)   The security of radioactive sources – the main French priorities and actions

a)   French gift basket on the security of radioactive source for the NSS 2016

Following on the commitment by the French President during the NSS 2014 in the field of radioactive sources, France prepared a gift basket submitted to the NSS 2016 with three main objectives:

  • Contributing to raising the level of political awareness on this topic of concern;
  • Proposing concrete measures to be considered after 2016 to raise further the global level of security of these materials; and
  • Offering a platform, agreed by the largest possible number of States, to initiate substantive work after the NSS 2016 – particularly in the IAEA.

In accordance with the President’s commitments made in 2014, this gift basket focuses on the previously-described three areas of work – strengthening the content and implementation of the relevant international framework, promoting exchanges on technologies alternative to high-activity radioactive sources, and encouraging a stronger cooperation between sources supplier States to better manage disused sources and avoid them becoming orphan.

This gift basket will be open to the signature of every States participating to the NSS 2016 and France will actively promote its content in the IAEA work following on the end of the NSS process.

b)   Assistance to third States to secure radioactive sources 

Consistent with its political focus on the security of radioactive sources, France has also deepened its technical work in this field. In 2011, France signed an agreement with the IAEA to increase cooperation to identify, locate and secure French-origin high-activity radioactive sources in requesting third States with insufficient resources to store them in a safe and secure way.

This agreement strengthened the work France had been carrying out since 2000 in this field. Since then, France has been able to identify and locate hundreds of French-origin sources, out of which 20 could not be secured on site and, consequently, were repatriated to France from five requesting States in Africa and the Middle-East. France also carried out five expertise or fact-finding missions in four other countries in Latin America, Asia and the former USSR. They enabled to secure on site nearly 30 high-activity sources. A part of this work was led in the context of the G7 Global Partnership against the spread of weapons of mass destruction (G7GP) and allowed to locate and secure on site 23 radioactive sources from RTGs abandoned in the former USSR.

From 2000 to March 2016, a total of 54 high-activity radioactive sources has been either evacuated from third States to France or secured on site in the recipient States thanks to French expertise and/or assistance. Hundreds of other such sources have been secured on site following on French contributions to the construction and/or equipment of storage facilities – mainly in the former USSR. Twelve more operations are planned for the years 2016, 2017 and 2018 to repatriate a dozen of French-origin radioactive sources from four requesting States in the Middle-East and in Africa.

Besides these efforts, France contributed to G7GP efforts in Ukraine from 2005 to 2013 to the construction and equipment of a radioactive sources storage facility. This site will enable to store in a safe and secure way hundreds of sources and quantities of radioactive scrap metal abandoned throughout the country following on the collapse of the USSR.

Since 2003, France has dedicated 6.2 million dollars to such work on radioactive sources, out of which 20% (1.2 million US$) were invested in 2014-2015 only, to support the increased efforts requested by the President at the NSS 2014. This global funding was invested either directly by France (4.75 million US$; 77%) or as contributions to the IAEA’s Nuclear Security Fund (1.43 million US$; 23%).

c)    Contribution on alternative technologies to high-activity radioactive sources

A/      Following on the President’s announcement in the NSS 2014 regarding technologies alternative to high-activity radioactive sources, France promoted exchange of political, technical, legal and economic information on such technologies through many forum. In the IAEA’s General Conferences 2014 and 2015, France proposed amendments on this topic during the debates on the draft resolution on nuclear security. France acted likewise in the 2014 United Nations General Assembly when proposing amendment on such alternative technologies in the draft resolution on the prevention of the acquisition of radioactive sources by terrorist it has been introducing every second year since 2007.

B/      France also agreed to co-chair with the United States an ad hoc working group of stakeholder States involved with technological alternatives to high-activity radioactive sources. While reminding that such a choice remains the responsibility of each State, this exercise enabled to generate technical discussions on how to spread such technologies in an economically and technically realistic fashion. This working group will be gathered once every year under American-French chairmanship in 2016 and 2017 at least. Terms of reference have been approved and an agenda for the next meeting (6th of June 2016) is currently under development. During this meeting, operators could be invited to present the lessons learned while implementing alternative technologies and the incentives and disincentives they face.

D/      These efforts came along with French national polices to minimize the use of high-activity sources when technically and economically realistic. This was especially undertaken since 2006 to progressively phase out isotopic medical gamma blood-irradiators to replace them by X-ray devices, following on an impulsion from the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN). This effort could be supported by the production of adequate non-isotopic technologies by French companies.

d)   Supporting the international framework applicable to radioactive sources

On the diplomatic ground, France also increased its involvement in favor of strengthening further the global level of security of radioactive sources.

A/      Between April and October 2015, France undertook diplomatic demarches to encourage 40 States that have not yet done so to ratify the ICSANT and the Joint Convention as well as to make a political commitment towards the Code of Conduct on the safety and security of radioactive sources and its Supplementary Guidance on Import and Export (cf. results in paragraph 3.a.A below).

B/      France is also involved in the elaboration of the IAEA’s technical recommendations. Indeed, French experts took part in the working group on the elaboration of a new NSS document on the end of life of disused radioactive sources as well as guidance on the security of radioactive materials. It is also worth mentioning the contribution of the Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) to the current elaboration by the IAEA of a « Technical Guide on Security of Nuclear and Other Radioactive Material in Transport ».

C/      Several French experts are involved in the revision of IAEA guidance. Indeed, experts from the ASN and the IRSN are involved in the still ongoing revision of two important documents from the Nuclear Security Series (NSS): the NSS 9 on the security of radioactive material in transport, and the NSS 11 on the security of radioactive material in use and storage and of associated facilities.

D/      In 2015, French experts from IRSN were involved as lecturers in 4 regional or international training course and one workshop organized by the IEA in different countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa on the security in the transport of radioactive material.

e)    Contribution to international events on the security of radioactive sources

In the intersession period between the NSS 2014 and 2016, France has also contributed to international workshops and seminars on the security of radioactive sources.

In April 2014, the ASN and representatives from the Ministry of Energy attended a workshop organized by the WINS regarding the security of radioactive sources used for industrial radiography and well-logging applications. During the event, a French operator specialized in non-destructive testing (NDT) introduced the work performed by operators, under the aegis of the ASN regarding the identification of technologies alternative to gamma industrial radiography.

In September 2014, the French public interest group “GIP Sources HA”[6] and WINS organized an international workshop regarding the end of life management of radioactive sources. 57 participants of 17 countries attended this 2-day workshop.

In January 2016, the ASN and the Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) also took part in a workshop organized in Oslo by the United States, Norway and WINS as a follow-up on the progress made with regard to the gift basket adopted in 2014 in the field of radiological security. This was the occasion for France to explain in detail the objectives of the axes of work announced by the President in 2014 as well as of the actions undertaken since then.

In January 2016, experts from the French National Police took part in the Interpol Conference on the illicit trafficking of nuclear materials – including radioactive sources.

In March 2016, in the framework of the Regulatory Infrastructure Development Project, two French experts from ASN were involved in the conduct of the IAEA Regional Workshop on Radiation Safety Regulatory Infrastructure: Strategy for Regaining Control over Orphan Sources.

f)    Publication of a Handbook on the security of radioactive sources

In the margins of the preparation of the NSS 2016, France has prepared a document entitled “Security of high-activity radioactive sources – handbook on policies and practices”. It aims at giving a clear idea of why radioactive sources are currently used for, what are their associated risks and how to further improve their security globally. It will be circulated in the margins of the NSS 2016 and later made available in electronic format on the website of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development.

In this regard, this document should contribute to raise awareness among decision-makers, diplomats, civils servants and experts on the security of radioactive sources by providing clear and detailed overviews on 10 major topics. It could ultimately be used to implement the French-proposed gift basket on the security of radioactive sources after 2016 or to carry-out demarches toward States that have not yet done so to ratify relevant instruments or to make political commitments with regards to pertinent IAEA guidance.

3)   Supporting the universalization of the relevant international texts

a)   To combat trafficking and nuclear and radiological terrorism

From April to October 2015, France undertook indeed a round of diplomatic demarches towards 40 States that are not parties to both the ICSANT and the Joint Convention and that also made no political commitment regarding the Code of Conduct on the safety and security of radioactive sources and its Supplementary Guidance on the import and export of such sources. The purpose was to encourage these States to ratify these instruments and to make political commitments towards the relevant IAEA guidance. Indeed these instruments and IAEA guidance represent the most fundamental texts applicable to the security of radioactive sources. In this regard, their universalization would represent an important step forwards to deepen further the security of these materials.

Seven States expressed their clear will to ratify the ICSANT while three of them made a similar commitment regarding the Joint Convention. However, six other States made the commitment to assess their need and interest to ratify the ICSANT and / or the Joint Convention in the coming months. Regarding the Code of Conduct and its Supplementary Guidance, three States noted they would make the political commitment to use them in their national nuclear security regime. Seven other States indicated they would assess their interest to make such a commitment in the coming months.

b)   To strengthen further the physical protection of nuclear materials

France also carried out diplomatic demarches to 107 States regarding the CPPNM in January and February 2016. These demarches targeted primarily the 65 States parties to the CPPNM that have not yet ratified the 2005 Amendment to this Convention, in order to encourage them to do so – and if possible prior to the NSS 2016 to enable its entry into force on this occasion.

These demarches further targeted 42 States that have not even ratified the CPPNM itself to encourage them to do so and, ultimately, push towards the universalization of this instrument and of its 2005 Amendment. Indeed, the CPPNM is currently the only legally-binding international instrument in the field of nuclear security – and consequently the most important document on this topic.

As of March 2016, twenty-two States made the commitment to ratify the 2005 Amendment to the CPPNM and five others made a similar commitment towards both the Convention and its Amendment. Though only eight of these twenty-seven States considered themselves able to complete such a ratification before the NSS 2016, two of them completed the ratification process prior to the NSS 2016. Among the targeted States thirteen others expressed interest for the Amendment and/or for the CPPNM itself and indicated they would assess their interest and need to ratify them in the coming months. A point of significant interest was that no State but one expressed disinterest for the CPPNM and its Amendment.

c)    Other initiatives related to the CPPNM

As part of its action towards the entry into force of the 2005 Amendment to the CPPNM, France actively contributed to the Meeting of the Points of Contact and Central Authorities of States Parties to the CPPNM, organized by the IAEA in December 2015 to convince States that have not yet done so to ratify the 2005 Amendment to the CPPNM and implement it in their domestic legislation.

4)   Reporting to international organizations

a)   To the IAEA

During the NSS 2014, France committed to prepare a report on the basis of article 14.1 of the CPPMN, as amended in 2005. This reporting exercise aims at providing the IAEA with the appropriate information on the domestic legal framework adopted to implement the provision of the CPPMN and of its 2005 Amendment. France provided such a report to the IAEA on October 23rd, 2014. This 33-pages long document provides detailed information on the French domestic nuclear security legislation that was largely upgraded between 2010 and 2014.

b)   To the United Nations

In November 2014, France engaged a comprehensive revision of its national report to the 1540 Committee. Indeed, the first French report had been published on October 28th, 2004 and later updated on August 25th, 2005 and December 14th, 2007. But, from 2007 to 2014, the French legislation regarding proliferation and nuclear security had been significantly upgraded which required an equivalent effort to update the French 1540 report in accordance. The new updated report was eventually published on August 15th, 2015. Its 44 pages now provide highly-comprehensive information on the status of the French legislation – especially in the field of nuclear security – presented in the model tables proposed by the 1540 Committee.

5)   Supporting the IAEA’s services to States and technical expertise

a)   Contribution to the NSF

France has long been an important contributor to the IAEA’s Nuclear Security Fund (NSF). For the period comprised between 2002 and 2016 it ranks 11th donor among more than 40, with 2.83 million US$ provided to the Fund – including 1.2 million in 2014 and 2015 only. It must also be recalled that among the 38 million US$ provided to the NSF by the European Union, approximately one fifth came from French funding. The CEA and the IRSN provided other contributions directly to some IAEA technical programs or to finance IPPAS missions with a global amount, between 2010 and 2016, of 238 000 US$.

b)   Cost-free expert 

France has provided the IAEA with a cost-free expert from the IRSN since 2010, in order to help the Agency providing expertise and carrying out various services to States – including IPPAS missions. The current expert has been provided for a two-year period, from March 1st, 2014 to March 1st, 2016. It will be renewed for another two-year period. From 2010 to 2016, the provision of cost-free experts has represented an indirect contribution to the IAEA of 1 million US$.

c)    Translation of technical documents 

France has also provided secondary contribution to the IAEA’s efforts in the field of nuclear security. They consisted mostly in funding dedicated to translating into French technical guidance adopted by the Agency. Such contributions were made by the CEA and the IRSN from 2010 to 2015 and represent a total of 38 000 US$. In 2015 by EDF (the French electric operator) made a contribution to translate NST23 and NST37 (7 000 €) and was followed by the Ministry of the Environment, Energy and the Sea (MEEM) to translate NST22.

d)   French experts also contributed to various services provided by the IAEA 

Five French experts working for the Agency have been involved in IPPAS missions carried out by the Agency since 2014, including four in 2014 and one in 2015. Other experts acting on behalf of the French government (from the IRSN especially) were also active in the activities of the Agency – especially to elaborate guidance, organize training courses or workshops or delivering trainings. French experts have in particular been highly involved in the Nuclear Security Guidance Committee (NSGC) and its working groups. It is also worth mentioning the organization by France of the first International Seminar on IPPAS missions in Paris, on December 4th and 5th, 2013 in cooperation with the IAEA.

e)    Contribution to technical work of the Agency 

France contributed further to other important technical activities of the IAEA in 2014 and 2015 in many fields such as:

  • The improvement of security culture (i.e. consultant meeting and development of training modules aimed in particular at assisting the IAEA with the continuous development of its nuclear security culture program);
  • Crisis management (i.e. consultants meeting);
  • Physical protection of nuclear materials and facilities (i.e. consultant meeting on security during the lifetime of a nuclear facility, consultancy meeting on security by design);
  • Security during the lifetime of a nuclear facility (i.e. consultant meeting on developing an implementing guide on the security during the different phase in the lifetime of a facility including for instance the design phase and the decommissioning phase);
  • Security of materials being transported (i.e. technical meeting on physical protection of nuclear materials during transport);
  • Accountability and control of materials (i.e. consultants meeting on nuclear materials control – for example, in 2015, one expert from IRSN was involved as lecturer in one regional and one international training course on Nuclear Material Accounting and Control for Nuclear Security at Facilities, in Turkey and in China); and
  • Cyber-security (i.e. consultancy meetings on developing possible future recommendation level document on cyber security; training courses including the holding in France of the first training course on conducting computer security assessment; revision of a document on computer security in nuclear facilities, consultants meetings on taking into account current or emerging cyber threats in the nuclear security planning or on the evaluation of cyber threats for nuclear facilities).

6)   Supporting other relevant international organizations or diplomatic initiatives

France supports many international initiatives in the field of nuclear security outside the IAEA.

a)   In the United Nations

A/      The 1540 report published in 2015 (cf. 3.b.B) updated significantly the information on the French legislation related to nuclear security. 

B/      France also offers assistance and expertise, through the 1540 Committee to every requesting States in the field of nuclear and radiological security. It has also participated to various seminars and workshops related to CBRN security with the same purpose.

C/      On the occasion of the Comprehensive review of the 1540 Resolution (June 2016), France will promote a better focus on the security of radioactive sources in the direction of assistance. France will also encourage providing more powers to the 1540 Committee to actively organize the matchmaking between the offers and requests of assistance and to direct more of its resources on this strategic aspect.

b)   In Interpol

A/      France contributes strengthening of Interpol’s Operation Fail Safe. This is program was initiated in 2012 to support each Member State’s efforts to gather and exchange information on individuals suspected of being involved in nuclear-related offenses (trafficking especially). This operation was initially limited to the use of Interpol’ Green Notices[7] but France support’s Interpol’s suggestion to extend it to all the categories of Notices[8] used by the organization. Following on a request from Interpol in September 2015 to every member States, France designated a national point of contact for Operation Fail Safe – the Central Section for Weapons, Explosives and Sensitive Materials (SCAEMS) of the Central Department of Judiciary Police (DCPJ).

B/      France takes part in events organized by Interpol on nuclear security, such as the Interpol Global Counter-Nuclear Smuggling Conference held in Lyon (France) on January 27th to 29th, 2016. This event enabled delegates from 120 States to exchange on the prevention of the risk of nuclear terrorism. France was involved in this Conference through the commander of the Central Interagency Detachment for Technical Intervention (DCI-IT)[9] and experts from the Division for Scientific and Technical Police (SDPTS) and the Central Direction for Judiciary Police (DCPJ).

C/      France also cooperates with Interpol at the operational and technical level in the field of nuclear security. For example, in October 2015, experts from Interpol were invited to attend a national meeting of all the French Ministries’ services involved in the combat against the CBRN threat – Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Interior, Atomic Energy Commission etc. – which was organized by the SDPTS. Experts from close partner States, like the United Kingdom, were also invited to attend this event.

D/      The French National Central Bureau for Interpol also publishes a monthly bulletin on CBRN criminality. This bulletin gathers information collected from open sources on incidents that took place during the previous month in the world and that had a CBRN dimension – theft/loss of materials or associated equipment, action against sensitive facilities, threats to commit offenses etc. This information is then circulated to every services of the State involved in combating the CBRN threat.

c)    In the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT)

A/      The French delegation is active in the policy level meetings of the Initiatives, i.e. the Implementation and Assessment Group (IAG) and the Plenary Meetings. In the Helsinki Plenary meeting (June, 16th-17th, 2015) France supported a stronger focus of the GICNT’s on the risks of terrorist uses of radioactive sources as well as on the actions to repair and mitigate the consequences of a radiological attack.

B/      France is also active in the three working groups of the GICNT, as they address NSS priorities in nuclear detection, nuclear forensics and response / mitigation. France hosted the May 2014 session of the Response and Mitigation Working Group in Paris and has also contributed to the elaboration and reviewing of the Exercises, Training and Awareness Document. Within the framework of the GICNT Nuclear Forensics working group activities, France has actively participated in the elaboration and the reviewing of the “Fundamentals for Policy and Decision Maker’s Document” which has been approved during the 2012 Mid-Year IAG Meeting in February 2014 in Marrakech.

C/      France was also involved in several GICNT seminars and exercises, in the field of:

  • Nuclear forensics, with exercise “Bleu Eagle”, organized by the United Kingdom in London in January 2014 as well as exercise “Radiant City” organized by the European Union in Karlsruhe in May 2015, and a thematic workshop in the United States in October 2015;
  • Illicit trafficking of nuclear and other radioactive materials with the exercise organized by the United States in Karlsruhe (Germany) in February 2014; and
  • Detection of radioactive materials with exercise “Northern Lights”, organized by Finland in January 2015.

 d)   In the G7 Global Partnership against the spread of weapons of mass destruction (G7GP)

France has also been a contributor to the G7GP since its creation in 2002. Since then, France has dedicated more than 130 million dollars to this program, out of which 67% have been dedicated to programs related to nuclear and/or radiological security.

From 2003 to 2013, the French G7GP programs have enabled to dismantle the reactors of two abandoned submarines, to secure 900 nuclear fuel assemblies and the high-activity sources of 16 RTGs in the former USSR, as well as to upgrade nuclear fuel storage facilities in the same area.

Since 2011, the French involvement in the nuclear programs of the G7GP was reoriented on the security of high-activity radioactive sources. France dedicated about 6.2 million dollars to this topic, which enabled to secure dozens of such radioactive sources in Eastern Europe, Caucasus, Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Middle-East, as well as to provide equipment to a radioactive wastes storage facility in Ukraine – with the capacity to safely and securely dispose of more than 10 000 sources.

e)    In the Nuclear Forensics International Technical Working Group (ITWG)

France is an active contributor to the ITWG, created in 1995 following on an initiative of the G7. That group, which comprises about 40 States, is tasked to provide recommendations and expertise on nuclear forensics. France, thanks to the laboratories of the CEA, took an active part in exercise CMX-4 in late 2014 and to the analyses of the results in March 2015 in Karlsruhe (Germany). An expert of the CEA was appointed in the ITWG Executive Committee in 2015. France also hosts and maintains the ITWG web pages.

This commitment in favor of nuclear forensics will be further deepened in 2016, as France will co-organize the annual meeting of the ITWG in Lyon (June 2016) but also the preparation of exercise CMX-5 thanks to samples of materials provided by the CEA.

f)    In favor of the Centers of excellence

France continues to support and offer expertise through centers of excellence, for example in the context of the European Union Centers of Excellences on CBRN risk mitigation. One project is currently being implemented in North Africa. It focuses on nuclear security. CEA signed an agreement with the Indian Center of Excellence GCNEP which includes cooperation in training and research and development in the field of nuclear security. The concrete phase of the implementation of this Center of Excellence has started on January 3rd, 2014.

g)   At the bilateral level

France also maintains bilateral contacts with partners States in the field of nuclear security, to share information or to provide them with advice or expertise. Delegations were welcomed in Paris and on French nuclear sites in this regard, including from the Indian government-related think-tank ORF (March 2014), from the United States Government Accountability Office (January 2015), from the UAE nuclear security authorities (February 2015), Japanese security authority (September 2015), or from the Polish nuclear security authorities (December 2015).

7)   Expertise and contribution in the field of radiological detection

A/      France has proposed, over the past years, its expertise to requesting States to secure major public events from radiological risks. France will support the IAEA in its assistance to Mali concerning the security of the French / Africa Summit to be held in Bamako in January 2017, through the training of Malian first line officers to radiological security, and through the organization of adequate visits and Workshops.

B/      French companies have also been active to develop tracking technologies. This is mainly the case of the consortium of small and medium-size businesses[10] involved since July 2014 in the Nuc-Track Project, supported by the Nuclear Pole of Burgundy, the IRSN and the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). The project aims at developing a technology to ensure an automated real-time tracking of radioactive sources in transport, to avoid any loss of control and to send alarm signals immediately in case of abnormal event.

8)   Role in the development of LEU high-density fuel for high performance research reactors

A/      During the NSS 2012, France signed with Belgium, the Republic of Korea and the United States a gift basket that initiated an international cooperation to develop high-density low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuels to convert high-performance research reactors using highly-enriched uranium (HEU).

B/      France further made the commitment to minimize the civilian uses of HEU when technically and economically feasible, including for the production of medical radioisotopes. France decided to close the high performance research reactor Orphée (which is using HEU fuel) by 2019, which contributes to the minimization effort in the utilization of HEU.

C/      Following on the NSS 2012, the HERACLES program has been initiated between Belgium, France and Germany in close cooperation with the United States to develop, test and qualify uranium-molybdenum dispersion fuel. Scientific difficulties were identified in the process (excessive dilatation of the fuel) which resulted in important delays and in the impossibility to determine a deadline for qualifying an LEU fuel for research reactor. However, the HERACLES program still represents an important cooperation that will serve as a basis for new scientific works on LEU fuel development. Furthermore, many scientific lessons were drawn from the researches undertaken since 2012.

9)   Contributions to the security of international nuclear transportations

A/      During the NSS 2012, France signed a gift basket with Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom, the United States on the security of nuclear transportations. It resulted in the organization of a working group tasked to draft four guides of good practices of the four transport modes (air, road, rail, sea). Following on their adoption by the States participating to the working group on the occasion of the NSS 2016, these documents should ultimately be used in the IAEA as reference documents in the context of the elaboration of guidance on the security of transports.

B/      France was also involved, in the IAEA, in exercises related to the security of nuclear transportations. The most important was the table-top exercise organized on June 17th, 2015. It was designed to assess the communication channels between shipper (France, Japan and United Kingdom) and coastal States during an international transport of nuclear materials. This table-top exercise was unanimously regarded as successful as it enabled every participant to understand better the way communication channels in case of incident could be activated and used. This exercise was also considered as a good basis of work for future discussion in the IAEA on the security of such transportations. The Coastal and Shipping States are planning to visit to a transport ship in United Kingdom with the participants to the dialogue process by the end of 2016.

10)    Strengthened cooperation between the government and the nuclear industry

The competent authorities pursue a continuous the dialogue with the nuclear industry in particular to promote the nuclear security culture (for example by contributing to the training of the security managers of the facilities), to ensure the sharing of experience amongst operators as well as to facilitate, in particular through guidance, the understanding and implementation of new requirements (for example cybersecurity). Whenever relevant, the nuclear industry is consulted on the new laws and regulations as part of the regulatory process.

11)    Strengthening further the French national nuclear security regime

a)   Organization of an IPPAS follow-up mission 

At the NSS 2014, France had made the commitment to call the IAEA to organize a follow-up IPPAS mission, after the first such mission hosted in France in 2011. France intends to send its request to the IAEA for a follow up mission to be organized on its territory ideally in 2017. This mission will cover the areas already observed by the IPPAS mission of 2011 but it should also be extended to other topics such as cyber-security.

b)   Deepening further the French national legislation

A/      The French legislative and regulatory framework on the physical protection and control of nuclear materials, facilities and transportation has been revised in depth since 2009, through distinct successive steps. An IPPAS mission was successfully hosted in late 2011. Its conclusions stressed the robustness of the French nuclear security regime.

A law on strengthening the legal means to fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was then adopted on March 15th, 2011, in order to criminalize new acts related to infringements to nuclear security and introduce harsher sentences for such offences.

This step was followed in 2013 by the above-mentioned ratification of the ICSANT and Amendment to the CPPNM. This evolution strengthened even more the French nuclear security regime even it had already been adapted prior to both ratifications.

B/      This progressive consolidation has been continued since then, with the adoption of further pieces of legislation between 2013 and 2016. Technical regulations will be adopted to implement these new legislative provisions in the next few years:

  • A law on cyber security that applies to the critical infrastructures, including nuclear facilities, was voted in late 2013 and will contribute to a reinforcement of the requirements on cyber security;
  • Provisions to strengthen deterrence and improve the capacity to detect suspicious actions around nuclear sites as well as the physical protection of facilities;
  • Various provisions to reinforce the regulatory oversight by the nuclear security authority.

C/      More specifically, the French legal corpus on the security of radioactive sources was complemented it 2015-2016 with the adoption of additions to the existing framework. Through the article 128 of the law n°2015-992 of August 17th, 2015 on the energetic transition for a green growth, the French Parliament has empowered the Government to adopt by legislative ordinance provisions to make more stringent the obligation for operators to take the appropriate measures to protect their radioactive sources against malicious acts and to entrust ASN, the Ministry of environment, energy and the sea (MEEM), and the Ministry of defense, in their respective areas of competence to enforce them.

A legislative ordinance n°2016-128 has then been adopted on February 10th, 2016. It establishes the legal principles and obligations that operators will have to abide by regarding the measure to protect their radioactive sources against malicious acts. The MEEM, together with ASN and the ministry of defense have been tasked, in their respective areas, to supervise, assess and control these security measures. These legislative provisions have to be complemented by regulatory texts, developed under the auspices of the MEEM and the sea and will enter into force on July 1st, 2017 at the latest.

D/      The French regulatory framework, including its Design Basis Threat (DBT) is regularly reviewed and updated to live up to the evolution of the threats.

E/      At last, the operators are to fully re-assess the physical protection of their facilities as part of the implementation of the regulation on physical protection and control of nuclear materials, facilities and transportation. If needed, they have to upgrade the means and measures for nuclear security to fulfill the regulatory requirements. The MEEM, with the support of the technical expertise from the IRSN, is tasked to assess all these security studies carried out by operators. As part of the constant enhancement of the national nuclear security regime, the various French bodies involved in nuclear security work on a day to day basis on continuous improvement of their policies, practices and interagency mutual coordination.

Acronyms used in the French Progress Report for the NSS 2016

ASN: French Nuclear Safety Authority – Autorité de sûreté nucléaire

CNRS: French National Center for Scientific Research – Centre national de la recherche scientifique. 

CEA: French Atomic Energy Commission – Commissairat à l’énergie atomique.

CPPNM: Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials

DCPJ: French Central Department of Judiciary Police – Direction centrale de la police judiciaire.

DCI-IT: French Central Interagency Detachment for Technical Intervention – Détachement central interministériel d’intervention technique.

G7GP: G7 Global partnership against the spread of weapons of mass destruction

GICNT: Global initiative to counter nuclear terrorism

HEU: highly enriched uranium

IAEA: International Atomic Energy Agency

IAG: Implementation and Assessment Group (GICNT)

ICSANT: International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism

IPPAS: International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IAEA)

IRSN: French Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety – Institut de radioprotection et de sûreté nucléaire

 ITWG: Nuclear forensics International Technical Working Group

LEU: Low-enriched uranium

MEEM: French Ministry of Environment, Energy and the Sea – Ministère de l’environnement, de l’énergie et de la mer

NSF: Nuclear Security Fund (IAEA)

NSGC: Nuclear Security Guidance Committee (IAEA)

NSS: Nuclear Security Summit

NSS: Nuclear Security Series of documents (IAEA)

RTG: Radio-isotope thermoelectric generator 

SCAEMS: French Police Central Section for Weapons, Explosives and Sensitive Materials – Section centrale armes, explosifs et matières sensibles.

SDPTS: French Police Division for Scientific and Technical Police – Sous-direction de la police technique et scientifique 

Report elaborated by:

Ø  Ministère des affaires étrangères et du développement international (MAEDI)

Ø  Secrétariat général à la défense et à la sécurité nationale (SGDSN)

Ø  Ministère de l’environnement, de l’énergie et de la mer (MEEM)

Ø  Ministère de la défense

Ø  Ministère de l’intérieur

Ø  Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives (CEA)

Ø  Autorité de sûreté nucléaire (ASN)

Ø  Institut de radioprotection et de sûreté nucléaire (IRSN)


[1]  Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials

[2]  International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism

[3]  Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management – though this instrument is primarily related to safety, its provisions designed to strengthen the safety of radioactive sources contribute to strengthening their security.

[4]  Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources

[5]  Supplementary Guidance on the Import and Export of Radioactive Sources

[6]  The term “GIP Sources HA” stands for “public interest grouping (GIP) - high activity (HA) sources”. In the French legislation, a public interest grouping (“groupement d’intérêt public” - “GIP”) is an ad hoc administrative structure established by a convention between public and private operators to accomplish a specific and punctual task. The “GIP sources HA” was established in 2009 and renewed in 2013 to secure and dispose of disused high-activity sources – among numerous other tasks related to the management of sources.

[7]  Green Notices are used to circulate information on individuals previously sentenced for their implication in illicit nuclear trafficking.

[8]  Red notices provide information on people wanted by a Member State’s authorities. Blue notices provide information on individuals who have been sentenced for their implication in an offense or suspected for their implication in such offenses. Purple notices describe processes, practices, methods or equipment used by criminals to commit offenses. Orange notices describe events, incidents, persons, process or equipment that generate threats for public security.

[9]  Détachement central interministériel d’intervention technique. This interagency structure is in charge of preventing and combatting CBRN terrorism.

[10]             Assystem, Nuc21, Point Core, Systel Electronique, Schlumberger and ABC Horus