During the Cold War, the U.S. and Russia were locked in a bitterly contentious battle over political ideology, military might, and economic strength. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the war ended. But the events that transpired left an impact on the world that is still felt today. This is especially true in the field of nuclear nonproliferation.
After the collapse, a large collection of nuclear facilities, weapons, and materials were left scattered and unprotected across several states within the former Soviet Union. Without a government, systems like gates and locks became decrepit, guards found other employment, and security technology was rapidly outdated. As time passed, these unsecured nuclear materials became a national security concern for the U.S. and others.
With the potential for a catastrophic attack looming, the Department of Energy established the Material Protection Control and Accountability (MPC&A) program to provide broad assistance for securing nuclear materials and facilities. The MPC&A program works on three fronts to (1) verify types of foreign nuclear materials, (2) implement stronger protection strategies, and (3) train workers to secure their facilities. Initially the program was offered to states of the former Soviet Union, but has since been expanded to others that need help in securing their nuclear materials.
Since 1997, Idaho National Laboratory (INL) has conducted interactive training workshops both at home and abroad. Training is conducted within an operating nuclear environment allowing students to learn about standardized safeguards and security approaches, observe these approaches implemented, and experience hands-on practical exercises.
- Workers from Belarus, China, Latvia, Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan have trained at INL.
- Training is led by qualified instructors who have secured Class A, Category 1 nuclear facilities.
- The training center includes:
- Perimeter intrusion detection and assessment systems,
- A central alarm station,
- A simulated vault, and
- Access control systems.