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Hiroshima for Global Peace

Hiroshima Report 2023Chapter 3 Nuclear Security1(1) Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials and Facilities

Chapter 3 Nuclear Security1

A) Nuclear Materials

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), nuclear security means “the prevention of, detection of, and response to, criminal or intentional unauthorized acts involving or directed at nuclear material, other radioactive material, associated facilities, or associated activities.”2 This definition assumes threats from non-state actors, such as terrorists. The IAEA classifies threats involving the possible misuse of nuclear or radioactive materials into the following four categories: (1) theft of nuclear weapons, (2) the acquisition of nuclear materials for the construction of nuclear explosive devices, (3) the malicious use of radioactive sources for the creation of radiological dispersal devices; and (4) sabotage against nuclear facilities and transportation of radioactive materials.3

On the subject of physical protection, which is a major element of nuclear security measures, the latest version of the IAEA’s “Nuclear Security Recommendations on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities,” also known as INFCIRC/225/ Rev.5, was published in 2011. In this revised edition, the IAEA recommends that requirements for physical protection should be based on a graded approach and principles of risk management, taking into account the relative “attractiveness,” the nature of the nuclear material and potential consequences associated with the unauthorized removal of nuclear material and with the sabotage against nuclear material or nuclear facilities.4

As shown in Table 3-1, nuclear material is the primary factor in determining physical protection measures against unauthorized removal. According to “attractiveness” to whom attempt malicious acts, these nuclear materials are categorized into Category I to Category III based on their types, isotopic composition, chemical form, degree of dilution, radiation level, and quantity.5


Weapon-usable nuclear fissile materials, namely Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) and separated plutonium, are widely thought to be attractive to someone with malicious intent such as terrorists seeking to produce nuclear explosive devices. Therefore, the amount of these materials along with the number of facilities that contain such materials within a country are considered to be an important indicator in assessing that state’s efforts to enhance nuclear security.

According to various sources of publicly available information, the amount of weapons-usable nuclear materials held by the countries surveyed in this report is shown in Tables 3-2 and 3-3 respectively.

Although the amount of nuclear fissile materials held by each country is highly uncertain, as it contains many estimates, the total amount of combined military and non-military HEU decreased by 76 tons compared with last year. In terms of military use, there was an increase in Pakistan, but the overall amount fell significantly. According to the Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition (RECNA) at Nagasaki University, this significant decrease is largely due to HEU for the U.S. naval HEU stockpile being transferred to civilian use and now being subject to dilution.6 HEU for non-military use also fell compared with last year due to progress in HEU minimization efforts in Kazakhstan and Japan. (See (3) A) of this Chapter.) In Kazakhstan, HEU fuel has been diluted and stocks of unirradiated HEU have been reduced to zero,7 and in Japan, more than 75 kg of HEU has been repatriated to the U.S.8 In addition, according to RECNA, U.S. non-military HEU stocks rose due to the transfer of surplus from military use, but are still around 80 tons less compared to 2010.9

A number of countries that once possessed HEU but have completely eliminated them in recent years as a result of the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI). The six countries under this survey, Brazil, South Korea, Mexico, Sweden, Switzerland, and Turkey have completely eliminated HEU including as a direct result of the GTRI.10 In this regard, the U.S. noted in its report submitted to the 10th Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference (RevCon) the assistance it has provided to date within the framework of bilateral cooperation to minimize HEU, stating that it “assisted 48 countries and Taiwan to remove or dispose over 7 tons of vulnerable HEU and plutonium. As a result, 33 countries and Taiwan have become HEU-free (defined as less than 1 kg of HEU remaining) through these efforts.”11

On the other hand, since approximately 90% of the world’s HEU are for military use, nuclear security has to be ensured for such use, not just for civilian HEU.12
Regarding the stockpile of separated plutonium, the overall amount of military and non-military use increased by six tons in 2022 compared with 2021, continuing the upward trend. In terms of military use, the amount of plutonium held by India and Pakistan increased. For civilian plutonium use, French and British stocks rose, while Japan’s stocks fell. In this context, the U.S. said at the 10th NPT RevCon that “States with civil separated plutonium share important responsibility to ensure such weapon-usable material is accounted for and remains outside of weapons. All states pursuing the civil use of plutonium must be transparent about their stocks.”13


B) Radioactive material

Since the September 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S. in 2001 (hereafter referred to as “9/11”), there have been concerns about the threat of explosive devices that use radioactive materials (the so-called “dirty bombs”). Therefore, not only nuclear materials but also other radioactive materials are included within nuclear security efforts.

In 2022, the issue of “dirty bombs” came to public attention when Russia, in the course of its aggression against Ukraine launched at the end of February spread disinformation that Ukraine may carry out provocations involving dirty bombs that use explosive devices to spread radioactive waste and that Ukraine was manufacturing such bombs.14 These events reinforced the need for strict control of not only nuclear materials but also other radioactive materials at nuclear facilities.

One important international document related to nuclear security of radioactive materials is the Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources, which was published in 2004 by the IAEA.15 While this Code of Conduct is not legally binding, as of October 2022, 144 countries, including all the countries surveyed apart from North Korea, have made political commitments to this Code of Conduct.16 The Ministerial Declaration adopted by the IAEA International Conference on Nuclear Security (ICONS) which took place in 2020 states that “We commit to maintaining effective security of radioactive sources throughout their life cycle, consistent with the objectives of the Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources and its supplementary guidance documents.”17 To raise awareness of the need for political commitment to this Code of Conduct, the IAEA held a technical meeting in May as well as the International Conference on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources took place in Vienna in June.18 According to the IAEA Nuclear Security Report 2022, “the Conference fostered the exchange of Member States’ experiences and anticipated future developments related to establishing and maintaining a high level of safety and security of radioactive sources throughout their life cycle.”19 The IAEA also held a meeting of the Working Group on the Nuclear Security of Radioactive Sources in October and discussed the topic on international technical exchanges on the security of radioactive sources.20 In addition, efforts related to guidance documents in this area have progressed and the IAEA Technical Guidance (No. 43-T) on “Security Management of Radioactive Material in Use and Storage and of Associated Facilities” was published in early 2022.21 This new guidance focus areas are management aspects, like most important policies, plans, procedures and processes related to nuclear security of radioactive material. 


C) Nuclear facilities

Nuclear facilities that could be a target of sabotage that might cause potential serious radiological consequences include power reactors, research reactors, uranium enrichment facilities, reprocessing facilities and spent fuel storage facilities. Of these, 437 (-3) power reactors worldwide were operational as of November 2022, 60 (+4) were under construction, 104 (+5) were in the planning stage, and 338 (+7) were proposed for construction (Numbers in parentheses above and below indicate the increase or decrease compared with the previous year).22
In terms of research reactors,23 as of November 2022, there were 841 (-1) worldwide. Below sees the breakdown of the status of those research reactors:24

➢ Operational: 222 units (+2)

➢ Temporary Shutdown Shutdown: 10 units (-5)

➢ Under construction: 11 units (±0)

➢ Planned: 13 units (-1)

➢ Extended Shutdown: 13 units (±0)

➢ Permanent Shutdown: 56 units (-2)

➢ Decommissioned: 449 units (+3)

➢ Dismantling: 67 units (+20)

Looking at HEU spent fuel assemblies for research reactors, there are 20,610 worldwide enriched to level above 20%.25 Of these, 9,479 are enriched to levels above 90% or more. An increase of 14 assemblies since last year. In terms of geographical distribution, 11,003 HEU spent fuel assemblies are currently stored in Eastern Europe, 4,211 in Western Europe, 1,582 in the Far East, 1,623 in North America, 433 in Africa, 223 in the Middle East and South Asia, 1,450 in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, and 85 in South America.26 This worldwide presence of so many HEU spent fuel assemblies shows that reinforcing measures to prevent sabotage, along with measure to prevent the theft of HEU from research reactor facilities.

Uranium enrichment and reprocessing facilities are regarded as particularly attractive from the viewpoint of malicious actors such as terrorists who may seek to make nuclear explosive devices because they contain nuclear materials that could be directly used for such devices. Table 3-4 shows the presence of nuclear power reactors, research reactors, uranium enrichment facilities and reprocessing facilities in the countries surveyed.

In terms of reprocessing facilities, the British government announced in May that it would terminate operations at the Magnox reprocessing plant at Sellafield in July 2022, the only remaining reprocessing facility in the country.27

In relation to sabotage against nuclear facilities, several relevant incidents involving Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones) occurred in recent years. While drones are increasingly being utilized at Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs) for inspection and other purposes, there is growing concern about nuclear security threats from drones entering the area or nuclear facilities for reconnaissance or an attack. While there is a “very low possibility that the threat through drones will directly strike the nuclear facilities and have a major radiological impact” due to their robust structure, it has been pointed out that “this can cause a major panic among the personnel of the nuclear facilities if explosives are loaded on the drone and detonated close to the main building of the nuclear facilities.”28
Following previous years, also in 2022, drone incidents occurred. In January, drones were spotted over or near the Forsmark NPP in Sweden.29 According to Swedish security officials, drones had also previously been seen in the vicinity of two NPPs in Ringhals and Oskarshamn.30Authorities said the drones were suspected of “grave unauthorised dealing with secret information.”31


In October 2022, it came to light that up to six drones had also been spotted in the U.K. in 2019 flying over and around a uranium enrichment facility in Capenhurst, Cheshire.32 There were reportedly 11 unauthorized aerial incursions reported at nuclear facilities in the country between May 2019 and November 2021. The U.K. government has previously suggested that these 2019 sightings include a so-called “swarm incident” involving multiple drones participating in the same operation or attack. At that time, the government did not release the name of the nuclear facility but it has since been revealed.33 These incidents have again demonstrated the need to remain vigilant, to be familiar with the risks posed by technological evolution and new attack methods by malicious actors, and to take prompt countermeasures.

In addition to the risk of sabotage mentioned above, cyber-attacks against nuclear facilities also remain a major threat, requiring enhanced countermeasures commensurate with the threat. While digitization offers convenience and benefits, there is concern that reliance on digital components of safety and physical protection systems in nuclear facilities may increase cyber risks. In this context, it has been pointed out that cyber-attacks against those systems could also be used to facilitate sabotage leading to the theft of nuclear material or a release of radioactive material.34 It is said that many cases of cyber-attacks against nuclear facilities are not made public, and it is hard to understand the actual situation accurately.35 Even so, the frequency of cyber-attacks against nuclear facilities has been rising since the beginning of the 2010s.36

In Ukraine, Energoatom, Ukraine’s state-owned nuclear energy company, revealed in August 2022 that a group of Russia-based hackers had launched a massive cyber-attack on its website for three hours. 37 Fortunately, these attacks did not cause significant impact on the operation of the website. In this regard, the Group of 7 (G7) Nonproliferation Directors’ Group, taking the situation seriously, issued a statement on August 10 expressing serious concern over malicious cyberactivity against Ukrainian nuclear power companies and setting out its intention to continue cybersecurity assistance to Ukraine.38


D) Armed attack against nuclear facilities

On February 24, 2022, Russia launched a military aggression against Ukraine, which subsequently included an attack on and occupation of NPPs in Ukraine. This made the issue of armed attacks against nuclear facilities an extremely serious problem. Dangerous situations occurred thought to be part of nuclear weapons programs. However, almost all past attacks were carried out before or during construction of the facilities and so, fortunately, did not result in radiological consequences.42 Nevertheless, nuclear facilities in each country are not inherently designed to withstand military attacks, including with missiles. To the matters worse, recent Russian attacks were accompanied by military occupation of the facilities. This raises problems of “nuclear security in a conflict situation,” which are different from the existing “nuclear security” issue, which deals with threats from non-state actors. Moreover, this “nuclear security in conflict” issue has two major aspects. One is physically protecting nuclear facilities from armed attack, the other is ensuring security, including prevention, detection and response to theft of nuclear and radioactive materials in the event that the state where the nuclear facility is located loses control of the facility. The need to address these aspects of the issue is presented as a key principle in the “Seven Pillars for Ensuring Nuclear Safety and Security in Ukraine” (hereafter referred to as the “Seven Pillars”) presented by the Director General of the IAEA in early March.43 The “Seven Pillars” are as follows:

1. The physical integrity of the facilities – whether it is the reactors, fuel ponds or radioactive waste stores – must be maintained.
2. All safety and security systems and equipment must be fully functional at all times.
3. The operating staff must be able to fulfil their safety and security duties and have the capacity to make decisions free of undue pressure.
4. There must be secure off-site power supply from the grid for all nuclear sites.
5. There must be uninterrupted logistical supply chains and transportation to and from the sites.
6. There must be effective on-site and off-site radiation monitoring systems and emergency preparedness and response measures.
7. And finally, there must be reliable communications with the regulator and others.

As described above, the international community faces the difficult challenge of trying to ensure nuclear security as well as nuclear safety in the event of attacks on and long-term military occupation of nuclear facilities in conflicts.

The following section reviews the events related to nuclear security and the responses of the IAEA, the United Nations, and other organizations to the attacks on Ukrainian nuclear facilities that occurred in 2022 during Russia’s military aggression. It then looks at the future direction of the international community’s efforts regarding attacks on nuclear facilities.

On the day of the military aggression, Russian forces took control of the Chernobyl NPP and occupied the site, taking the facility’s Ukrainian employees hostage.44 Thereafter, the facility’s power lines were damaged and isolated from external power sources on multiple occasions until Russian soldier withdrew from the site on March 31.45 Because this site has spent fuel that is being cooled, there were initial concerns that if the external power supply was cut off, cooling would fail and radioactive materials would leak out.46 According to the Ukrainian government, Russian forces destroyed a research facility for monitoring radioactive waste near the NPP and stole highly radioactive materials from the facility.47

Russian forces also shelled the Zaporizhzhia NPP (ZNPP), the largest NPP in Ukraine, on March 4, causing a fire at a training facility on the site.48 Fortunately there was no damage to the six reactors at the site. The Russians claimed that it was Ukrainian insurgents who had attacked the site.49 Russian forces then took control of the ZNPP and began bringing weapons and ammunition into the site, and also detonated explosives there.50 They also deployed a multi-rocket system and turned the facility into a military strong point, firing into and shelling neighboring areas from the NPP.51 In August the plant was hit waves of shelling that damaged the external power supply system near the dry spent fuel storage facility and injured a Ukrainian security guard.52 In addition, a fire near the NPP damaged power lines, causing the plant to be cut off from the Ukrainian electrical grid.53 Ukraine and Russia both blamed the shelling on the other side.54 On October 5, Russian President Vladimir Putin completed the process of annexing four provinces to Russia, including the southern province of Zaporizhzhia, where the ZNPP is located. He also signed a presidential decree nationalizing the ZNPP, unilaterally seizing control of the facility from Ukraine.55 The plant’s director was subsequently taken away by the Russian military and disappeared. He was later released but resigned from his role. Later, the deputy director was also detained by Russian forces and temporarily disappeared.56 This is a serious issue in terms of management responsibility for the facility’s safety and security.

On February 27, Russian forces attacked a radioactive waste disposal facility on the outskirts of Kiev and a missile landed on the facility.57 They also attacked the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology several times between March and June.58 During the June attack, the facility was damaged by shilling, which damaged the facility’s infrastructure, cooling system and emergency power facilities, but fortunately did not significantly affect facility safety.59

In addition to attacks against the ZNPP, Russian forces conducted missile strikes near other NPPs in Ukraine. In April and June, cruise missiles overflew the South Ukrainian NPP.60 On November 23, four NPPs in the country (Rivne, South Ukraine, Khmelnytskyi and Zaporizhzhia) were hit by Russian attacks against power infrastructure and were cut off from external power sources. Fortunately, radiation levels remained normal at all the NPPs.61

Thus, over a long period of time, Russia has repeatedly attacked several nuclear facilities in Ukraine. Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine has repeatedly created serious situations that could result in radioactive contamination not only in Ukraine but also in neighboring countries and Europe as a whole at any time.



The IAEA Board of Governors held an emergency meeting on March 2 in response to a missile landing on the Kiev Radioactive Waste Disposal Facility and other events. At the meeting, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi called on the belligerents to refrain from any measures or actions that could jeopardize the security of nuclear and other radioactive materials and the safe operation of nuclear facilities in Ukraine. The following day, the IAEA Board of Governors adopted “Implications of the Situation in Ukraine for Safety, Nuclear Security and Safeguards” resolution and called on Russia “to immediately cease all actions against, and at, the Chornobyl NPP and any other nuclear facility in Ukraine, in order for the competent Ukrainian authorities to preserve or promptly regain full control over all nuclear facilities within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders and ensure their safe and secure operations.”62 The resolution was supported by 26 of the 35 Council members, including Japan, the U.K. and the U.S., and opposed by China and Russia, with five countries abstaining, including India, Pakistan, and South Africa.63

On March 2, the IAEA presented the aforementioned “Seven Pillars.”64 Since then, the IAEA has assessed the status of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities based on whether these “Seven Pillars” have been secured, and has expressed concerns about them.
In August, the ZNPP was hit by waves of shelling, and the IAEA Director General stressed the need for IAEA experts to assess the situation there.65 Russia said it expected to host IAEA experts “by the end of August,” but claimed that Ukraine is preventing it from doing so.66

After various adjustments and negotiations, the IAEA Support and Assistant Mission to Zaporizhzhia (ISAMZ) to stabilize the nuclear safety and security situation, led by the IAEA Director General, began work on September 1.67 The ISAMZ delegation arrived at the ZNPP, which was till occupied by Russian forces, to assess the damage to the NPP and its stability.68 On September 6, IAEA Director General Grossi released his second report on the plant and reported that Russian soldiers, military vehicles, and equipment were seen at various locations within the site, and that there were military vehicles inside the reactor building.69 In response to this situation, the same day the IAEA Director General proposed at the UN Security Council the establishment of “Safety and Security Protection Zones” (“Protection Zones”) around NPPs as a measure to prevent nuclear accidents.70 Russia, though, did not accept the proposal, claiming that it maintains the safety of the ZNPP and that the only threat is shelling and vandalism from Ukrainian forces. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky supported the proposal for a protection zone.71

In September, the IAEA Board of Governors adopted, for the second time, a resolution on “Implications of the Situation in Ukraine for Safety, Nuclear Security and Safeguards,” calling on Russia to halt all actions against the ZNPP and other nuclear facilities in Ukraine immediately.72 Twenty-six of the 35 Council members voted in favor of the resolution, while China and Russia voted against. Seven countries abstained, including India, Pakistan, and South Africa. Support for the resolution was reiterated in a joint statement by 10 countries, including Canada, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Switzerland, the U.K., and the U.S., as well as the European Union (EU), at the High-Level Meeting on the Safety and Nuclear Security of Civilian Nuclear Facilities in Armed Conflict held at the UN on September 22.73

At the IAEA General Conference in September, many countries, including Japan, South Korea, the U.K., and the U.S., as well as the EU, strongly condemned Russia, expressed grave concern about the situation at Ukraine’s nuclear facilities, and supported the IAEA’s activities to ensure the safety and security of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities.74 The U.S. demanded that Russia immediately withdraw its troops from Ukraine and cease military activities in and around Ukraine’s nuclear facilities.75 Brazil did not mention Russia, but urged restraint while “expressing grave concern about the impact of the Ukrainian conflict on nuclear safety, security, and safeguards.”76 Russia expressed support for the IAEA’s efforts and its “Seven Pillars” to ensure the safety and physical protection of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities, stating that “ensuring the safety and physical safeguards of nuclear materials and nuclear facilities, wherever they are located, is an absolute priority,” and that Ukraine has only created a dangerous situation.77

In addition, the Nuclear Security resolution adopted at the IAEA General Conference in September included the following paragraph, which refers to nuclear facilities in Ukraine without direct reference to Russia.

Emphasizing the increasing risk on the physical integrity of Ukrainian nuclear facilities and their nuclear and radioactive material due to armed attacks, and noting with grave concern the current situation, in particular at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, including the significant loss of control by the competent authorities and the operator, and the negative consequences on nuclear security, including physical protection, and recalling the need to immediately cease all actions against and at nuclear facilities devoted to peaceful purposes, and recalling the need to immediately halt all actions against nuclear facilities for peaceful purposes.78

On November 17, the IAEA Board of Governors adopted for the third time the “Implications of the Situation in Ukraine for Safety, Nuclear Security and Safeguards” resolution, expressing deep concern about Russia’s lack of response to the Board’s call for an immediate halt to all actions at Ukraine’s nuclear facilities, and urged Russia to comply with the Council’s call for an immediate halt to all actions at its nuclear facilities in Ukraine.79 Twenty-four of the 35 Board members voted in favor of the resolution, while China and Russia opposed it and seven countries abstained.80
On December 4, the IAEA Director General explained that in talks with Russia and Ukraine respectively, agreement had been reached on the basic principle of not attacking NPPs and that “Russia does not oppose the conclusion of the agreement or the principle of protecting the facilities.”81 However, the establishment of a “Protection Zone” has not taken place and is not expected to.


UN/Security Council

In response to the situation at the ZNPP, the United Nations Security Council (“Security Council”) held an emergency meeting on March 4 to discuss a response. The U.K. accused Russia of being the first state to attack an NPP in operation, noting that this was a violation of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions, which prohibits attacks against NPPs, dams etc.82 China, which had conspicuously defended Russia, also unusually expressed “concern” and called for “the parties to act with extreme caution.”83 The U.S. condemned Russia’s reckless actions, stating that it had “narrowly escaped a nuclear catastrophe.”84 Russia, on the other hand, claimed that reports that it had shelled the NPP was “all part of an unprecedented campaign of lies and disinformation against Russia.” It acknowledged that Russian troops had exchanged fire with Ukrainian troops, but denied shelling.85 Russia also claimed that “the Ukrainian government was trying to create artificial hysteria” and that Russian forces had taken control of the area “to prevent Ukrainian nationalists and terrorists from carrying out nuclear provocations.”86

On August 23, the Security Council held an emergency meeting at Russia’s request to discuss the issue of a series of attacks against the ZNPP. Russia accused Ukraine, claiming that Ukraine has been shelling the site and surrounding areas of the NPP every day, while Ukraine countered that Russia was responsible for causing the risks and called for the withdrawal of Russian military units from the NPP and acceptance of an IAEA inspection.87

Since mid-August, UN Secretary-General Guterres has frequently called on both Russia and Ukraine to demilitarize the area around the ZNPP.88 However, Russia refused to accept the proposal, pointing to the possibility of provocations by the Ukrainian side over the NPP and saying that demilitarizing the area would make the NPP vulnerable.89


NPT Review Conference

At the 10th NPT RevCon in August, Russia and Western countries bitterly opposed each other on the issue of Russia’s attacks on Ukraine’s nuclear facilities. Australia, Belgium, Canada, Japan, Sweden, Turkey, the U.K., the U.S. and the Vienna Group of Ten (G10)90 directly condemned the Russian attack on the NPP or expressed serious concerns about the state of nuclear safety and security at the ZNPP.91 The EU stated that armed attacks and threats against civilian nuclear facilities constitute violations of international law, including the principles of the UN Charter, Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions, and the IAEA Statute.92 Russia, on the other hand, condemned the waves of shelling against the ZNPP in early August, saying that Ukraine had committed several criminal acts with artillery and rocket attacks. It said “as a result, a fire broke out on the territory of the plant and the high-voltage power line and pipelines were damaged, which could lead to a large-scale disaster.”93

Turkey and the UAE stressed the need to ensure the safety and nuclear security of facilities under all circumstances, including in conflict, and the need for NPPs and related facilities to be protected at all times.94 Mexico stated, “there is no justification for military attacks against nuclear facilities for peaceful purposes, something expressly prohibited by international law.”95 Iran stated that “Attacks or threats to attack nuclear facilities devoted to peaceful uses endanger nuclear safety, violate the purposes and principles of the United Nations and the rights of States Parties to develop and use nuclear energy, and constitute a threat to the entire IAEA safeguards regime,” 96 and that “such threats have become more serious in recent years, and the Security Council and IAEA have failed to take appropriate action.”97 Iran then asked for a paragraph be included in the final document “expressing profound concern about attacks or threats to attack nuclear facilities, strongly condemning such attacks and threats and declaring that they constitute a serious threat to the IAEA safeguards regime and are viewed by States as prohibited.”98
The draft final document included the following four paragraphs on nuclear security related issues arising from the attack on Ukraine’s nuclear facilities:99

➢ “[R]eminds all States Parties of the importance of nuclear safety and security regarding peaceful nuclear facilities and materials in all circumstances, including in armed conflict zones, and of the IAEA Director General’s ‘Seven Indispensable Pillars on Nuclear Safety and Security’ derived from IAEA safety standards and nuclear security guidance.” (para. 98)

➢ “[E]xpresses grave concern with the safety and security of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities and materials, in particular the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant, and expresses appreciation for the IAEA’s and its Director General’s efforts to address this concern.” (para. 99)

➢ “[E]xpresses grave concern at attacks or threats of attack on nuclear facilities devoted to peaceful purposes, which jeopardize nuclear safety and nuclear security. The Conference also considers that attacks or threats of attack on nuclear facilities devoted to peaceful purposes have dangerous political, economic, human health, and environmental, implications and raise serious concerns regarding the application of international law, which could warrant appropriate action in accordance with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations.” (para. 100)

➢ “[E]ncourages States parties to support the IAEA Director General’s efforts to restore the safety and security of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities and materials, within its internationally recognized borders.” (para. 187-95)

The draft final document also includes a paragraph on attacks against nuclear facilities in general, which reads as follows:

[The Review Conference] calls upon all States parties, pursuant to action 64 of the Action Plan adopted by the 2010 Review Conference, to abide by the decision of the IAEA General Conference of 18 September 2009, on “Prohibition of armed [attack or threat of armed attack against nuclear installations, during operation or under construction” (GC(53)/DEC/13). (para. 187-94)

Western countries insisted that the final document should clearly state that Russia was responsible for the situation at Ukraine’s nuclear facilities, but Russia opposed this strongly, thus there was no reference to Russia in the draft final document.100 Nevertheless, on the last day of the Conference, Russia opposed adoption of the draft final document, demanding amendments to five paragraphs, including the one referring to the ZNPP, which led to a split in the Conference, which closed without a final document being adopted. It is unclear which paragraphs Russia specifically opposed, but it is said to have opposed references to the ZNPP and the issue of control over the Plant.101 The issue of Russia’s attacks on Ukraine’s nuclear facilities was therefore why the Conference failed to produce a final document.
On the last day of the Conference, 55 countries, including Australia, Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the U.K., and the U.S., along with the EU issued a joint statement condemning Russia and demanding that “Russia immediately withdraw its armed forces from Ukraine and hand back full control of ZNPP as well as of all nuclear facilities within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders to the proper Ukrainian authorities in order to ensure the safe and secure operations of the ZNPP.”102


Conference of the Parties of the A/CPPNM

At the Conference of the Parties of the A/CPPNM held at the end of March (hereafter referred to as the “Review Conference”), Russia was condemned by many Western countries. For example, the U.S. criticized Russia, saying that “Russia’s actions against Ukraine’s nuclear facilities are the biggest challenge to nuclear safety and security, and its aggression and seizure of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities is hindering Ukraine’s fulfillment of its obligations under the A/CPPNM.”103 Similar criticisms were made in a joint statement by 56 countries including Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Norway, Switzerland, Turkey, the U.K. and the U.S., together with the EU. This statement called on Russia “to cease and desist from any actions contravening the letter or spirit of the A/CPPNM.”104 In addition, the EU stressed “the need for legally-binding international rules prohibiting armed attacks against nuclear facilities for peaceful purposes, as required by previous IAEA resolutions (GC(XXVII)/RES/407 and GC(XXIX)/RES/444).”105
China on the other hand, while expressing concern about the safety and security of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities, referred to the A/CPPNM provision (Article 2.4(b)) which states that activities by a state’s armed forces during armed conflict and activities conducted by a state’s armed forces in the course of their official duties are not covered by the A/CPPNM, and argued that the issue of Russian actions against Ukraine’s nuclear facilities was outside the mandate of this Conference.106



The G7 has issued several joint statements since March condemning Russia’s attack on Ukraine’s nuclear facilities. For example, on March 4, the G7 Foreign Ministers “urged Russia to stop its attacks especially in the direct vicinity of Ukraine’s NPPs. Any armed attack on and threat against nuclear facilities devoted to peaceful purposes constitutes a violation of the principles of international law.”107 In May, the G7 again expressed strong support for the IAEA’s efforts and “called on Russia to immediately withdraw its forces from Ukraine’s nuclear facilities and to return full control to legitimate Ukrainian authorities.”108


Future Outlook

In the wake of Russia’s attack on and occupation of nuclear facilities in Ukraine, the issue of armed attack against nuclear facilities for peaceful purposes has become a reality. In terms of how the international community should deal with this issue, the EU expressed its support “for the adoption of legally binding international rules specifically prohibiting armed attacks against any nuclear installation devoted to peaceful purposes.”109 Some Western countries, along with Japan, South Korea and others underlined “the importance of complying with international humanitarian law and renewing efforts aimed at the prompt reinforcing of the international framework relating to the protection of nuclear facilities devoted to peaceful purposes including in armed conflicts .”110 Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) countries have expressed the view that they recognize “the need for a comprehensive, multilaterally negotiated instrument prohibiting attacks, or the threat of attacks, on nuclear facilities devoted to peaceful uses of nuclear energy.”111 Cuba also noted the need to negotiate a comprehensive instrument to prohibit attacks or threats of attacks against nuclear facilities among NPT parties.112 Although it is currently clear how and in what specific forums these measures will be strengthened, it is important to reiterate the principle of the prohibition on attacks against nuclear facilities for peaceful purposes. Strengthening protective measures and protection systems for nuclear facilities by each country, alongside concrete efforts to strengthen international standards, will be the focus of attention in the future, many parties will be interested in tracking the progress of such concrete efforts. On the other hand, some experts argue that the legal prohibition of this issue is clear in Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions, and that creating a new legal regulation would add conditions that would actually weaken the prohibition.113




1 This chapter is authored by Junko Horibe. In writing this chapter, the corresponding chapter of the Hiroshima Report 2020 written by Sukeyuki Ichimasa was referenced.
2 IAEA, “Nuclear Security Series Glossary Version 1.3 (November 2015) Updated,” p. 18.
3 IAEA, “Promoting Nuclear Security: What the IAEA is Doing,” files/nuclsecurity.pdf.
4 IAEA, “Nuclear Security Series No.13 Nuclear Security Recommendations on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities (INFCIRC/225/Rev.5),” 2011, paragraph 3.37.
5 INFCIRC/225/Rev.5, 2011, paragraph 4.5.

6 RECNA, “Explanation of ‘World’s Fissile Material Data’ 2022 (data as of the end of 2020),” June 3, 2022, 20220603.pdf.
7 Ibid.
8 “45 Kilograms of Highly Enriched Uranium Safely Removed from Japan and Returned to the United States,” National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), August 9, 2022, nnsa/articles/45-kilograms-highly-enriched-uranium-safely-removed-japan-and-returned-united-states; “HEU From Three Japanese Sites Transported to USA,” World Nuclear News, May 24, 2022, https://www. three-Japanese-sites-transported-to-USA.

9 RECNA, “Explanation of ‘World’s Fissile Material Data’ (data as of the end of 2020).”
10 “Materials: Highly Enriched Uranium,” International Panel on Fissile Materials (IPFM), May 22, 2020, html.

11 “National Report Submitted by the United States,” NTP/CONF.2020/47, December 27, 2022, p. 23.
12 NTI Military Materials Security Study Group, “Bridging the Military Nuclear Material Gap,” Nuclear Threat Initiative, 2015,
13 “Statement by the United States, Main Committee II,” August 8, 2022.

14 “Russia, Without Evidence, Says Ukraine Making Nuclear ‘Dirty Bomb’,” Reuters, March 6, 2022,; “Russia’s Defense Chief Warns of ‘Dirty Bomb’ Provocation,” CNBC, October 23, 2022,
15 The main objectives of the Code of Conduct are to deter harmful effects on individuals, society and the environment as well as to minimize radiation effects caused by accidents and malicious acts through achieving a high level of safety and security of radioactive sources, preventing unauthorized access, theft, and unauthorized transfer of radioactive sources.
16 IAEA, “List of States Expressing a Political Commitment,” October 22, 2022, sites/ns/code-of-conduct-radioactive-sources/Documents/Status_list%2031%20October%20%2020 22.pdf.
17 “International Conference on Nuclear Security: Sustaining and Strengthening Efforts, Ministerial Declaration,” February 2020, tion.pdf.
18 IAEA, Nuclear Security Report 2022, GOV/2022/31-GC(66)/8, July 29, 2022, pp. 12, 14.

19 Ibid, p. 12.
20 “International Technical Exchanges on the Security of Radioactive Material,” IAEA News, October 25, 2022, oactive-material.
21 “Technical Guidance No. 43-T: Security Management of Radioactive Material in Use and Storage and of Associated Facilities,” March 2022,
22 “World Nuclear Power Reactors & Uranium Requirements,” World Nuclear Association, November 2022,
23 Regarding the security of research reactors, Co-Presidents’ Report of the ICONS in 2020 noted that the discussion of risk assessment approaches for research reactors could benefit from a more detailed examination of risks related to cyber and insider threats. “ICONS 2020: Co-Presidents’ Report,” February 2020, p. 11.
24 IAEA, “Research Reactor Database,”
25 IAEA, “Worldwide HEU and LEU Assemblies by Enrichment,” reports/summary-report/WorldwideHEUandLEUassembliesbyEnrichment.

26 IAEA, “Regionwise Distribution of HEU and LEU,” mary-report/RegionwisedistributionofHEUandLEU.
27 “Operations to end at Sellafield’s Magnox Reprocessing Plant,” GOV.UK, May 17, 2022.
28 For a case on drone threats since 2014, see Jae San Kim, “A Study on the Possibility of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV)’ Threat in Nuclear Facilities,” Transactions of the Korean Nuclear Society Annual Meeting, Goyang, Korea, October 22-25, 2019.
29 “Sweden Drones: Sightings Reported over Nuclear Plants and Place,” BBC News, January 18, 2022.
30 Ibid.

31 Ibid.
32 Josh Layton, “Swarm of Drones Spotted Flying Above UK Nuclear Plant,” METRO, October 31, 2022,

33 Ibid.
34 “Outpacing Cyber Threats Priorities for Cybersecurity at Nuclear Facilities,” Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), 2016, p. 10.
35 Caroline Baylon, Roger Brunt and David Livingstone, “Chatham House Report Cyber Security at Civil Nuclear Facilities: Understanding the Risks,” Chatham House, September 2015, https://www.chatham For recent cyber-attack cases, see “North Korea Made Cyberattacks Against South Korean Nuclear Agency,” Nikkei Shimbun, June 18, 2021, GM183H00Y1A610C2000000/.
36 Caroline Baylon, Roger Brunt and David Livingstone, “Chatham House Report Cyber Security at Civil Nuclear Facilities: Understanding the Risks.”
37 “The Operator of Ukraine’s Nuclear Plants Says It Faced an Ambitious Cyberattack,” New York Times, August 16, 2022, ar-plants-says-it-faced-an-ambitious-cyberattack.html.
38 “Statement of the G7 Non-Proliferation Directors’ Group on Nuclear Safety and Security at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant,” August 10, 2022, 6837.pdf.

39 “Self Defense Forces Deployment-Request for Response,” Chunichi Shimbun, March 31, 2022, morning edition, p. 2.
40 GC(53)/DEC/13, IAEA, September 18, 2009,
41 Article 2(4)(b) of the A/CPPNM provides that “The activities of armed forces during an armed conflict, as those terms are understood under international humanitarian law, which are governed by that law, are not governed by this Convention, and the activities undertaken by the military forces of a State in the exercise of their official duties, inasmuch as they are governed by other rules of international law, are not governed by this Convention.”

42 Bennett Ramberg, “The Danger of Nuclear Reactors in War,” Project Syndicate, August 5, 2022, https://
43 “IAEA Director General Calls for Restraint, Reiterates Need to Ensure Safety of Ukraine’s Nuclear Facilities and Their Staff,” IAEA News, March 2, 2022,

44 “Russian Forces Seize Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant,” BBC News, February 25, 2022, https://www.
45 IAEA, “Summary Report by the Director General, 24 February-28 April,” pp. 11-12, https://www.iaea. org/sites/default/ files/22/04/ukraine-report.pdf.
46 “Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Power Shutdown, Data Transmission Disrupted; IAEA ‘No Critical Impact on Safety,’” Yomiuri Shimbun Online, March 10, 2022,
47 “Russia Destroys Chernobyl Radiation Monitoring Lab, Says Ukraine,” CNN, March 23, 2022, https:// 03/23/europe/ukraine-chernobyl-update-03-23-intl/index.html.
48 IAEA, “Update 11-IAEA Director General Statement on Situation in Ukraine,” March 4, 2022, on-in-ukraine.
49 “Russia Blames Attack at Nuclear Power Station on Ukrainian Saboteurs,” Reuters, March 4, 2022, s-interfax-2022-03-04/.
50 “Russian Military Occupies Nuclear Plant, ‘Ammunition Explosion’ Reported Inside Facility,” Yomiuri Shimbun, March 15, 2022,
51 “Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Workers: We’re Kept at Gunpoint by Russians,” BBC News, August 11, 2022,; “UN Alarm as Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant Shelled Again,” BBC News, August 12, 2022, https://www.
52 IAEA, “Summary Report by the Director General, 24 February-28 April,” pp. 12-15.
53 “Zaporizhzhia: World Narrowly Avoided Radiation Accident-Zelensky,” BBC News, August 26, 2022, https://

54 “UN Alarm as Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant Shelled Again,”; “Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Workers: We’re Kept at Gunpoint by Russians.”
55 “Ukraine war: Putin signs Ukraine Annexation Laws amid Military Setbacks,” BBC News, October 6, 2022, /japanese/63140244.
56 “Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Director to be Replaced, Temporarily Detained by Russian Military,” CNN, October 5, 2022,; “Deputy Director of Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant Detained by Russians; Whereabouts Unknown,” Yomiuri Shimbun, October 11, 2022,
57 “Ukraine Reports Damage to Two Nuclear Waste Facilities,” Bloomberg, February 28, 2022, https://www. Source=uverify%20wall.
58 IAEA, “Summary Report by the Director General, 24 February-28 April,” pp. 16-17; IAEA, “Summary Report by the Director General, 28 April-5 September,” p. 32.
59 Ibid.; “Russian Military Again Attacks Nuclear Research Facility in Kharkov, Ukraine Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Cut off Communications,” Tokyo Shimbun Online, March 11, 2022,
60 IAEA, “Update 80-IAEA Director General Statement on Situation in Ukraine,” June 7, 2022.
61 IAEA, “Update 132-IAEA Director General Statement on Situation in Ukraine,” November 24, 2022.

62 “The Safety, Security and Safeguards Implications of the Situation in Ukraine,” GOV/2022/17, March 3, 2022.
63 “IAEA Board of Governors Resolution Condemning Russia: 26 of 35 Countries Favor, China and Russia Oppose,” Mainichi Shimbun, March 3, 2022, 2000c.
64 “IAEA Director General Calls for Restraint, Reiterates Need to Ensure Safety of Ukraine’s Nuclear Facilities and Their Staff,” IAEA News, March 2, 2022.
65 “Hostilities at Zaporizhzhia NPP Must Stop and IAEA Needs to be Allowed to Assess Status of the Facility, Grossi Tells UN Security Council,” IAEA News, August 11, 2022, newscenter/news/hostilities-at-zaporizhzya-npp-must-stop-and-iaea-needs-to-be-allowed-to-assess-status-of-the-facility-grossi-tells-un-security-council.
66 Ibid.
67 IAEA, “2nd Summary Report by the Director General, 28 April-5 September,” p. 5, https://www.iaea. org/sites/default/files/22/09/ukraine-2ndsummaryreport_sept2022.pdf.
68 Ibid.

69 IAEA, “2nd Summary Report by the Director General, 28 April-5 September,” pp. 13-14.
70 “IAEA Director General’s Introductory Statement to the Board of Governors,” IAEA News, September 12, 2022,
71 “Hasty Idea of ‘Safety Zone’ Around Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant,” Tokyo Shimbun, September 12, 2022,
72 GOV/2022/58, September 15, 2022.
73 Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan “Joint Statement High-Level Meeting on the Safety and Nuclear Security of Civilian Nuclear Facilities in Armed Conflict (Provisional translation),” September 23, 2022,
74 See statements at the 66th IAEA General Conference by various countries.
75 “Statement by the U.S.,” at the 66th IAEA General Conference, September 2022.
76 “Statement by Brazil,” at the 66th IAEA General Conference, September 2022.

77 “Trends in Nuclear Nonproliferation and Nuclear Security (Commentary and Analysis),” ISCN Newsletter, No. 0310, October 2022, p. 11.
78 GC(66)/RES/7, September 2022, p. 4.
79 GOV/2022/71, November 17, 2022.
80 “IAEA Resolves Again to Demand Russia Suspend Activities at Ukraine Nuclear Facilities,” Reuters, November 18, 2022,
81 IAEA, “Update 136-IAEA Director General Statement on Situation in Ukraine,” December 13, 2022.
82 “Russia ‘Artificial Hysteria’ in Ukraine Government’s Attack on Nuclear Plant…China Expresses Unusual ‘Concern,” Yomiuri Shimbun, March 5, 2022,

83 Ibid.
84 Ibid.
85 Ibid.
86 Ibid.
87 “Security Council Emergency Meeting Over Nuclear Power Plant, Ukraine, Russia Exchange Accusations,” AFPBB News, August 24, 2022,
88 “Demilitarization of Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Russia Opposes ‘Ukraine Provocation,’” Asahi Shimbun, September 19, 2022, N.html.
89 Ibid.
90 Among the countries surveyed, Australia, Canada, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden are members.
91 Belgium, the United States, and the Vienna Group of 10 spoke in the General Debate. Australia, Canada, Japan, Sweden, and the United Kingdom spoke in the General Debate of Main Committee III. As for Turkey, it was at Main Committee II; Laura Varella and Audrey Kelly, “Report on Main Committee III,” NPT News in Review, Vol. 17, No. 4 (August 10, 2022), p. 19.
92 Ibid, pp. 8-9.

93 “Statement by Mr. Mikhail Kondratenkov, Member of the Russian Delegation at the 10th NPT Review Conference (Main Committee III),” August 8, 2022,
94 Ray Acheson, Allison Pytlak, and Laura Varella, “Report on the General Exchange of Views,” NPT News in Review, Vol. 17, No. 2 (August 4, 2022), p. 21; “Statement of Türkiye at Opening and General Debate” 10th NPT RevCon, August 3, 2022.
95 Ray Acheson, “Stopping the Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Risks, and Harms,” NPT News in Review, Vol. 17, No. 4 (August 10, 2022), p. 3.
96 “Statement of Iran,” 10th NPT RevCon, August 8, 2022.
97 Ibid.
98 Ibid.
99 NPT/CONF/2020/CRP.1/Rev.2, pp. 15, 35.

100 Allison Pytlak, “Report on Main Committee II,” NPT News in Review, Vol. 17, No. 7 (August 18, 2022), p. 28.
101 “Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference Breaks Down Over Russian Opposition, Over Reference to Ukraine,” BBC News, August 28, 2022,
102 “Joint Statement at the Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the NPT,” https://estatements.

103 “Statement by the U.S. at the A/CPPNM Review Conference,” March 28, 2022, https://vienna.
104 EU Delegation to the International Organization in Vienna, Note Verbale, NV/(2022)031, April 1, 2022, NM%20Joint%20Statement.pdf.
105 “Statement by the EU at the A/CPPNM Review Conference, 28 March-1 April 2022,” https://www.
106 “Statement by China at the A/CPPNM Review Conference,” March 28, 2022, http://
107 “Russian Aggression against Ukraine: G7 Foreign Ministers’ Statement,” March 4, 2022, https://www.

108 “G7 Foreign Ministers Statement on Russia’s War against Ukraine,” May 14, 2022, https://www.mofa.
109 Allison Pytlak, “Report on Main Committee II,” NPT News in Review, Vol. 17, No. 7 (August 18, 2022), p. 28.
110 MOFA, “Joint Statement High-level Meeting on the Safety and Security of Civil Nuclear Facilities in Armed Conflicts,” September 23, 2022,
111 “Working Paper submitted by NAM,” NPT/CONF.2020/WP.25, p. 5.
112 Laura Varella and Audrey Kelly, “Report on Main Committee III,” NPT News in Review, Vol. 17, No. 4 (August 10, 2022), p. 16.
113 Michal Onderco and Clara Egger, “Why a New Convention to Protect Nuclear Installations In War Is A Bad Idea,” Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, December 5, 2022,


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