Russian Nuclear Security Update
regularly reports on various exercises conducted by Russian nuclear sites, Rosatom non-nuclear sites, National Guard, Rosatom agency pro-force, and law enforcements authorities. Relevance of such exercises to nuclear security is not always obvious from the reports. This article provides overview of commonly reported exercises, including examples and applicable regulatory requirements, and explain their relevance to nuclear security.
We consider an exercise relevant to nuclear security based on two criteria:
- Exercise scenario includes implementation of either routine security procedures or response to emergency or unauthorized actions.
- Exercise involves some or all on-site and off-site response force in charge of nuclear security:
- Nuclear site personnel with physical protection responsibilities.
- Pro-force securing nuclear sites and closed cities where nuclear sites are located. Such pro-force can be National Guard troops, Rosatom or other agency pro-force.
- Senior officers managing pro-force at various sites, including nuclear.
- Off-site response force supporting sites in case of unauthorized actions against sites and emergencies. Off-site response force includes units of Federal Security Service (FSB), off-site troops of National Guard, Rosatom or other agency pro-force, and police units reporting to Ministry of Interiors.
These exercises obviously include exercises at nuclear sites and closed cities, as well as exercises at training grounds and non-nuclear sites that contribute to preparedness of response forces across the board, including those working at nuclear sites. E.g. pro-force joint exercises conducted at pro-force training grounds for pro-force securing various sites, including nuclear, and senior officers managing the pro-force. The other example is exercises at Rosatom non-nuclear sites that involve off-site response force and senior pro-force officers in charge of security of nuclear sites as well.
Exercises meeting these criteria fall into two major groups:
- Exercises on response to unauthorized actions against sites or closed cities
- Emergency response exercises that include training in implementing security measures as part of general emergency response plan
Exercises on response to unauthorized actions against sites or closed cities
Below are several examples of exercises aimed at training on-site and off-site response force from past issues of Russian Nuclear Security Update:
- January 11, 2018. Counter-terrorism exercise at Angarsk Integrated Electrolysis Chemical Plant – Rosatom uranium enrichment facility. Exercise scenario included response to attempt of unauthorized entry to the territory of the Plant by a group of unknown individuals.
- March 6, 2018. National Guard exercise during technical meeting conducted by National Guard command. The exercise involved National Guard swimmers providing security to water area of various sites, including nuclear, and National Guard SWAT supporting on-site pro-force when necessary. The swimmers showed under-water operations part of routine security measures, including inspection of water areas adjacent to secured sites. The swimmers also exercised in neutralizing hypothetical adversary.
- April 11, 2018. National Guard exercises at nuclear icebreaker operated by Atomflot – Rosatom organization operating nuclear powered vessels and nuclear service ships. Exercise scenario included National Guard troops response to seizure of the icebreaker.
- August 24, 2018. Counter-terrorism exercise in Snezhinsk closed city hosting Zababakhin All-Russian Scientific Research Institute for Technical Physics (VNIITF), prime Russian nuclear defense research center. Exercise scenario included response to detecting improvised explosive device in a vehicle inspected at vehicle access control point of closed city.
- February 13, 2019. Counter-terrorism exercise at OKBM Afrikantov site – Rosatom nuclear site. The OKBM designs nuclear facilities, designs and manufactures equipment for the facilities, and provides support to operators. Exercise scenario included response to seizure of site administrative building by off-site adversaries colluding with insiders.
- June 25-26, 2019. Counter-terrorism exercise at Atommash site, non-nuclear Rosatom site manufacturing equipment for nuclear power plants. Exercise scenario included response to firing one of site's buildings and attempt of blowing up site gas distribution station committed by off-site adversaries.
Exercises referred to as counter-terrorism exercises are focused on training response to terrorist attacks against sites or closed cities. These exercises involve a number of authorities, including FSB, National Guard, other law enforcement authorities, and regional and local government represented by antiterrorist committees. Involved entities are trained in collaborative actions to be taken in case of terrorist attack.
Counter-terrorism exercises are important to nuclear security, as counter-terrorism and nuclear security objectives, as well as respective regulatory requirements substantially overlap. Counter-terrorism protection and nuclear security are provided by single site physical protection system (site PPS), including respective equipment, site personnel, pro-force and procedures.
National guard exercises are mostly focused on training on-site and off-site National Guard troops in routine security procedures, e.g. site security inspections, and in response to various unauthorized actions against sites. Certain exercises include training in communicating and collaborating with response force reporting to other law enforcement agencies. Examples above show "general" exercises involving National Guard servants providing security to various sites, including nuclear. Such exercises are not tailored to specific site, but focus on training in specific skills necessary to pro-force, e.g. under-water inspections. The exercises also include exercises tailored to specific nuclear site, like in Atomflot example.
Exercises above are governed by legislation on counter-terrorism and National Guard, as well as regulations on physical protection of nuclear sites:
- Federal Counter-Terrorism Policy, Federal Law on Counter-terrorism and elaborating regulations issued by the Government and President. These regulations assign a number of counter-terrorism authorities and responsibilities to Federal Security Service (FSB), including leading counter-terrorism exercises. Certain responsibilities are also assigned to the National Guard. Procedures for organizing and conducting counterterrorism exercises are defined by FSB regulations and interagency regulations mutually reconciled by concerned law enforcement authorities.
- National Guard conducts exercises pursuant to the Law on National Guard, regulations issued by the President and internal regulations.
- Nuclear sites are obliged participating in counter-terrorism and National Guard exercises by Physical Protection Rules enacted by Government Decree #456, key Russian PP regulation widely known as "PP Rules". The PP Rules state that FSB and National Guard conduct exercises in cooperation with nuclear sites and pro-force securing the sites and notify the sites and on-site pro-force in advance. Russian nuclear regulator, Rostechnadzor, should also be notified. Based on PP Rules, objectives for the exercises include validating effectiveness of site physical protection system, improving collaboration between site management and pro-force, as well as preparing to emergency response.
Russian Nuclear Security Update has no examples of agency pro-force exercises. However, we assume that such exercises regularly take place, as regulations on Rosatom pro-force training refer to exercises as an essential element of pro-force regular training. We will include information on such exercises in our updates as it becomes available.
In addition to exercises sites, FSB, National Guard, Rosatom agency pro-force and other concerned authorities conduct technical meetings regarding security of sites, including counter-terrorism. The meeting is conducted separately or combined with the exercises and can be either general, e.g. on providing counter-terrorism protection to various critical sites located in specific area, or dedicated to security of specific site. Example of such meeting include:
- Meeting on counter-terrorism protection of Novovoronezh NPP held in December 2017
- Meeting on counter-terrorism protection of Beloyarsk NPP held in August 2018
The example meting only included discussions among concerned organizations and experts. Such meetings can also include table top exercises. Emergency response exercises
Since operators are required to provide nuclear security under both routine and emergency conditions, nuclear security procedures cover emergencies at sites and during transportation of radioactive material. Emergency response exercises conducted at sites normally focus on mitigating emergency, e.g. cleanup of radiological contamination or evacuation of personnel from contaminated area. But since nuclear security emergency procedures are a part of emergency plan, these exercises address nuclear security issues to a certain extent.
Examples of emergency response exercises conducted over the last two years.
- April 30, 2018. Emergency response exercise at a site of Siberian RosRAO branch, Rosatom site handling nuclear waste. Exercise scenario included response to radiological accident by site personnel and Rosatom agency pro-force securing the site.
- May 29, 2019. Emergency response exercise at Atomflot site. Exercise scenario included power shut-down during the on-site relocation of nuclear fuel by crane, mutual notification and following actions of concerned parties, including National Guard and Rosatom emergency response center.
- June 27, 2019. Emergency response exercise in Seversk closed city holding Siberian Chemical Combine. Exercise scenario included response to emergency during transportation of nuclear material by National Guard team responsible for securing the material and Rosatom emergency center.
Russian Nuclear Security Update provided details on these exercises in past issues.
Emergency response exercises listed above involve a number of off-site organizations in charge of safety, including Ministry of Emergencies, response support teams maintained by operators, and Rosatom emergency centers. The example exercises also include notifying pro-force securing site or transportation and transportation on emergencies and their involvement in emergency response in some cases.
Such emergency response exercises are conducted to train all concerned entities in implementing emergency repose plans, as required by a number of nuclear safety regulations.