International Atomic Energy Agency Staff Monitor Nuclear Activities in "Freedonia"

For one week in June, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory site became a scientific facility in the mythical country of “Freedonia.” There, a team of inspectors, analysts and technical specialists from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) participated in a training class/exercise in order to assure the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Freedonia. This one-week on-site exercise was the field component of a two-week training course that took place both on Long Island and in Vienna, Austria. The annual training exercise, known as the Additional Protocol Exercise, or APEX, was built and carefully designed in a joint effort with the safeguards training section of the IAEA.  

Participants from the IAEA Department of Safeguards and the United States were deployed in teams to various Laboratory facilities where a variety of clues to activities conducted on the site were planted, consistent with the scenario. One of the objectives of the training was to improve the participants’ observation, communication, negotiation and analytical skills. But the ultimate goal was to enhance their abilities to properly meet the technical objectives prepared during the analysis in Vienna, to “connect the dots,” evaluate their findings and draw conclusions, and, as a result, propose timely and relevant follow-up actions.

The teams were evaluated by experienced IAEA facilitators who assessed their performance. The APEX course provides the IAEA with a unique opportunity to train staff in a simulated setting where the pressures of time, sensory overstimulation, and interpersonal communications mimic real-world challenges.

The APEX course is one of a dozen training courses the United States offers annually to the IAEA Department of Safeguards.

“This exercise helps the IAEA enhance its ability to support international nuclear nonproliferation goals and implement nuclear safeguards around the world,” said Warren Stern, a senior advisor in Brookhaven’s Nonproliferation and National Security Department.  “The course at Brookhaven gives the IAEA facilitators a chance to see how their inspectors react to different scenarios and obstacles laid before them, and provide critical feedback,” he said.


2016-6406  |  INT/EXT  |  Newsroom