High activity radioactive sources provide great benefit to humanity through their utilization in agriculture, industry, medicine, research and education, and the vast majority are used in well-controlled environments. None-the-less, control has been lost over a small fraction of those sources resulting in accidents of which some had serious — even fatal — consequences. Indeed, accidents and incidents involving radioactive sources indicate that the existing regime for the control of sources needs improvement. Additionally, today’s global security environment requires more determined efforts to properly control radioactive sources. Consequently, the current regimes must be strengthened in order to ensure control over sources that are outside of regulatory control (orphan sources), as well as for sources that are vulnerable to loss, misuse, theft, or malicious use. Besides improving the existing situation, appropriate norms and standards at the national and international levels must continue to be developed to ensure the long-term sustainability of control over radioactive sources. In order to improve the existing situation, concerted national and international efforts are needed and, to some degree, are being implemented to strengthen the safety and security of sources in use, as well as to improve the control of disused sources located at numerous facilities throughout the world. More efforts must also be made to identify, recover, and bring into control orphan sources. The IAEA works closely with Member States to improve the safety and security of radioactive sources worldwide. Besides the IAEA Technical Assistance Programme and Technical Cooperation Fund, donor States provide significant financial contributions to the Nuclear Security Fund and/or direct technical support to other States to recover condition and transfer disused sources into safe and secure storage facilities and to upgrade the physical protection of sources that are in use. Under the USA-Russian Federation-IAEA (“Tripartite”) Initiative, for example, disused sources of a total activity of 2120 TBq (57251 Ci) were recovered and transported into safe and secure storage facilities in six countries of the former Soviet Union. Additionally, physical protection upgrades were performed in thirteen former Soviet Union republics at facilities using or storing high activity radioactive sources. Other donors have also provided funding for projects related to the safety and security of radioactive sources in the same region. Additionally, the EU and other countries are making regular and significant contributions to the IAEA for projects aimed at upgrading the safety and security of radioactive sources in South-Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Depending on the status of the radioactive source (in use, disused, or orphan) and the actual technical, safety and security situation, several options exist to ensure the source is properly brought or maintained under control. This paper will describe those options and the systematic approach followed by the IAEA in deciding on the most appropriate actions to take for the high activity sources that need to be recovered or removed from the countries under that request assistance.

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