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ONR joins international nuclear security discussion

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) gave key regulatory contributions to last week's International Conference on Nuclear Security (ICONS) in Vienna.

ICONS 2024, run by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), raised awareness of nuclear security topics to maintain and strengthen national security regimes and promoted the sharing of information and good practices in nuclear security while protecting sensitive information.

This was the fourth ICONS conference, which started in 2013, which helps to inform the IAEA’s next Nuclear Security Plan, covering the period 2026-2029.

ONR led an event on behalf of the UK at this year's conference about the last half a decade of its outcome-focused nuclear security regulation.

Deborah King, an ONR nuclear security inspector, spoke to an audience about the lessons identified and goals for the future following this fundamental move away from ONR's previous prescriptive approach.

Her presentation was followed by a panel event which featured representatives from industry leaders, with questions posed from a wide range of worldwide stakeholders.

ONR's transition to outcome-focused nuclear security regulation has enhanced dutyholders’ understanding of risk, improved organisational security culture and encouraged innovation and efficiencies.

It has also helped to pinpoint future learning including the requirement within the industry for more education and training about ONR's Security Assessment Principles (SyAPs).

Before joining ONR, Deborah spent 31 years with the British Army, working in security, intelligence and human resources.

She said: "ONR's move to outcome-focused nuclear security regulation required considerable planning and resource and has shown tangible results in improving greater understanding of security risks across the nuclear sector.

"I’m pleased to get this opportunity to engage with a wide range of international stakeholders to explain why concentrating much more on goals, rather than prescribing change, has proved beneficial during the last five years."

Earlier in the week, Megan Clarke, one of ONR's nuclear graduates, took part in a 'next generation of security professionals' event.

The 25-year-old was recently selected as one of the 24-strong IAEA Nuclear Security Delegation for the Future – part of a process which attracted more than 200 worldwide applicants.

The scheme aims to identify the next generation of nuclear security specialists and contribute to their professional development, offering a platform for participants to learn, collaborate, and contribute to the advancement of nuclear security on a global stage.

Megan, a former University of Nottingham student with a BA in Politics and International Relations and MA in International Security and Terrorism, is currently on attachment to industry.

She is working with Nuclear Restoration Services following time spent with Global Nuclear Security Partners and will return to ONR later this year.

She said: “I’ve really enjoyed being sponsored by ONR as a nuclear graduate and I’m looking forward to a career in nuclear security.”