Support for changes in programs,
facilities and threats

Support for changes in threats and the means put in place to protect against them

“The IRSN teams in charge of defense-related nuclear appraisal, the security of nuclear facilities and non-proliferation provide support to multiple authorities, with the assistance of civil nuclear experts. These are mainly the Nuclear Safety Officer for Defense-Related Facilities and Activities (DSND), the Senior Defense and Security Official (HFDS) of the Ministry of Energy Transition[1] for the fight against malicious acts, the Euratom Technical Committee (CTE) for the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the HFDS of the Ministry of the Economy, Finance and Industrial and Digital Sovereignty[1] for the implementing in France of the treaty banning chemical weapons.

In this regard, IRSN provides support for the continuous evolution of nuclear programs linked to defense – such as the development of the new generation of ballistic-missile submarines and nuclear aircraft carriers, and the renovation of nuclear deterrence facilities – and examines the associated operational feedback.

For civil nuclear, in the context of a national nuclear security regulation that has just been renewed, the Nuclear Defense Appraisal Department (DEND) plays a role in strengthening the nuclear security of many facilities in the face of threats – including cyber-attacks – by making use of specific research, often carried out in partnership. IRSN and the French-German Research Institute of Saint-Louis have just jointly filed a patent for an innovative visualization system for experiments into explosive attacks.

Lastly, in the field of nuclear and chemical non-proliferation, IRSN is continuing and adjusting its provision of support to the French public authorities based on the new challenges posed by changes in the geopolitical context and changes in international regulations.”

[1] Titles in effect as at 12/31/2023.

Laurent Mandard
Director of Nuclear Defense
and Security Appraisal

Nathalie Chaptal-Gradoz
Assistant to Director of Nuclear Defense and Security Appraisal

“Law no. 2023–610 of July 18, 2023 giving the Customs Administration the means to deal with new threats introduces, in Article 17, the possibility of exchanging information between its agents, those of the Ministry of the Economy in charge of implementing the CWC and “the staff of entities acting on their behalf”. In this regard, IRSN will now be able to receive and use information received from customs relating to chemicals listed in the CWC. In particular, these exchanges will enable the consolidation of import and export declarations from the civil sector and the resolution of discrepancies between States Parties identified by the OPCW. The practical arrangements for exchanges will be governed by an agreement that the parties have planned to finalize before the start of 2024. This new provision helps to strengthen the control measures related to the holding or intention to hold the most sensitive chemicals.”

Nuclear safeguards: IRSN shows its expertise in training

In 2023, IRSN hosted training sessions in Fontenay-aux-Roses (Hauts-de-Seine) in the field of nuclear safeguards, both as part of European financing and the Institute’s cooperation with the US DOE.

In June, IRSN welcomed trainees from South Africa, Brazil, Ghana, Iraq, Jordan, Nigeria, Turkey, Poland and Ukraine for training aimed at increasing the trainees’ capabilities to meet their countries’ international obligations in terms of nuclear safeguards by implementing best practices in this field. In October, the Institute held a similar session in Singapore.

As part of its cooperation agreement with the DOE on nuclear security and safeguards, in October, IRSN also held a training session on the coordination between physical protection and the accounting and control systems for nuclear materials during a nuclear security event. This workshop brought together 16 participants from Algeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Morocco, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and two regional organizations, the African Commission on Nuclear Energy (AFCONE) and Forum of Nuclear Regulatory Bodies in Africa (FNRBA).


IRSN’s participation in the joint INMM-ESARDA conference

At this event in May in Vienna, which brought together more than 700 participants from American and European associations on nuclear safeguards and security, the Institute made presentations on major themes of the conference, such as nuclear material accountancy, metrology, training or the impact of SMRs on international declarations.

In brief

IRSN contributes to the preparation of the 5th CWC review conference

In its technical support to the Ministry of Industry for issues related to the application of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), IRSN contributed to the preparation of the 5th review conference held in May at the headquarters of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in La Haye (Netherlands). The Institute’s representatives put forward proposals aimed at improving the method of selecting the sites to be inspected (which fall under the category of defined organic chemicals).

IRSN and the French-German Research Institute of Saint-Louis develop a joint innovation

Improving understanding of the physical mechanisms of blast waves and having tools to predict the consequences of explosions in order to better protect against them: these are the objectives that guided the development of the MOST system, which ISL and IRSN began exploiting in 2023.

As part of its safety studies and research activities, IRSN, together with the French- German Research Institute of Saint-Louis (ISL), launched in 2017 the development of a rapid imaging project called MOST, which combines a camera and a light source, enabling the visualization, in real time, of dynamic phenomena in disturbed environments, in particular following an explosion. Obtaining sharp images not polluted from the light intensity of the fireball makes it possible to track what is happening in the immediate environment of the explosion – in particular the propagation of the shock wave – and ultra-fast digital video coupling to track its phenomenology.

This innovation was the subject of a patent application at the end of 2022, which falls within the scope of the Institute’s missions to improve the understanding of the physical mechanisms of blast waves, by having tools to predict the consequences of explosions so as to better protect against them. In 2023, IRSN and ISL applied to the Ministry of the Armed Forces for RAPID financing to support dual innovation, which will enable them to design and develop a complete process, produce a prototype and study its marketability.

IRSN’s Transport Operations Center celebrates its 40th anniversary

Within the IRSN Nuclear Defense Appraisal Department, the transport operations center (TOC) is responsible, in particular, for an official mission: managing requests for approval for nuclear material transports as well as their monitoring. This body, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2023, carries out, among others, the technical inspection of the equipment used to transport these materials.

As part of its mission, a TOC team visited the road terminal of the Melox factory, operated by ORANO Recyclage in Chusclan (Gard), on March 28 – 29, in order to carry out the technical inspection of a road tractor, an MX8 type semi-trailer and two containers belonging to ORANO NPS, a prerequisite for the renewal for one year of their approvals for the transport of category I and II non-irradiated nuclear materials. Every year, on average, 50 pieces of equipment are subject to a check that exclusively concerns the so-called “physical protection” devices and systems implemented to detect and delay an attempted malicious act during transport. The aim is to ensure that they are always present, in good working order and comply with regulations. For example, there are 250 inspection points for a road tractor.

In brief

IRSN’s active presence at the International Conference on Cybersecurity in the Nuclear World

Emphasizing the international bodies’ awareness of the rise in cyber threats and the commitment to tackle them, CYBERCON23, the first international conference dedicated to cybersecurity, was held on June 19 – 23 at the initiative of the IAEA. A member of the conference’s organizing committee, IRSN chaired a session and presented its work on the cybersecurity of nuclear material transports and its HYDRA platform, a tool for assessing the control-command architecture of a reactor.

IRSN continues the in-depth technical appraisal of the ORANO Tricastin facility

With a view to the renewal of the ORANO Tricastin facility’s authorization to hold and utilize nuclear materials, IRSN issued an opinion in mid-October corresponding to the first stage of the appraisal of the site’s safety file (generic methodology of safety studies) and is now moving to the second stage (its application at the Tricastin site), with the authority’s objective being to close the appraisal before the end of 2024. The appraisal requires in-depth knowledge of the configuration of the site and its protective measures in order to assess its vulnerability to malicious acts.

Nuclear safety appraisal for defense facilities

Enabling “industrial” type defense facilities to benefit from a proven process of sharing feedback with the Nuclear Safety Authority for defense-related matters, this was the objective of an appraisal undertaken in 2023 with IRSN’s participation on CEA/DAM nuclear facilities. The Reactor Safety Commission (CSR) and the Safety Commission for Defense Laboratories and Plants (CSLUD) met in December to examine the conclusions of the IRSN’s appraisal.

At the end of March, the Institute also presented to the CSLUD its conclusions of the appraisal of the commissioning of a new recycling building built in Valduc (Côte-d’Or) as part of a CEA/DAM program, with the aim of updating the safety standards of weapons-related facilities to the latest standards.

IRSN appraises the safety options file for the new generation aircraft carrier

The DGA sent IRSN the safety options file for the new generation nuclear aircraft carrier intended to succeed the Charles de Gaulle. The appraisal of this file has made it possible to highlight the consistency of the options chosen for this future ship with those of the other recent nuclear propulsion programs, including the 3G SNLE. In particular, the search for maximum independence between the two connected nuclear steam supply systems and their ship support contributes to increasing safety compared to the Charles de Gaulle.

Louis-Michel Guillaume visits the European Commission’s Joint Research Center

In February, the Deputy Director General in charge of defense-related missions and the head of the Nuclear Security and Safeguards Department of the European Commission’s Joint Research Center (JRC) met in Ispra (Italy) to identify, within the framework of the agreement between the two bodies, areas of collaboration in the fields of nuclear security and safeguards.



Protecting the health
of people and
the environment



At the start of a decade of major
challenges for safety appraisals

Mobilizing teams and
expanding capacities
for action