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Preparation is key to nuclear and radiological emergency management and response. It is in this spirit that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) holds periodic exercises to test the operational arrangements of the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident and the Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency, also known as ConvEx.

As a member of the Inter-Agency Committee on Radiological and Nuclear Emergencies (IACRNE), the NEA recently participated in the latest ConvEx-3 exercise held on 26-27 October 2021. The 36 hour international emergency exercise was based on a hypothetical accident at the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, which simulated a significant release of radioactive substances into the atmosphere.

The exercise enabled the NEA to test its emergency response arrangements as outlined in the Joint Radiation Emergency Plan of the International Organisation (JPLAN), with the specific objective to survey and report on the governmental decisions and recommendations implemented in non-accident countries. In addition to providing a platform to practice inter-agency co-ordination and communications plans, the exercise also allowed the NEA to test its internal and external communications responses.

Based on the outcomes of the exercise, the NEA is currently working with the IACRNE to develop, disseminate and analyse the Governmental Decisions and Recommendations (GDR) Survey of States. In doing so, the Agency will identify lessons learnt from the exercise and explore areas for further improvement in preparedness and response to nuclear and radiological emergencies.

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