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RCMF Fellow Develops Arabic Online Learning Course in Nuclear Security

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RCMF Fellow Develops Arabic Online Learning Course in Nuclear Security

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

The 2018 Robin Copeland Memorial Fellow, Dr. Amira Elabd of Egypt, completed her capstone project for the fellowship by producing an online learning course in Arabic focused on the topic of nuclear security.  The course is available free of charge and is available on Moodle at the following link ( for anyone wishing to learn more about nuclear security – simply select “log in as a guest” to access the course.  We asked Dr. Elabd a few questions about her project and the impact she hopes to achieve.

Why did you decide to make an online course for your capstone?
Online learning has really grown over the last few years. Through this type of course, I can control the learning environment to develop a deeper understanding of the material and it is a good opportunity to interact with many people across the Middle East from varied backgrounds. Online courses are flexible and allow audiences the freedom to schedule it at their own pace, and all the materials will be safely stored for long-term use over several years.

What audience did you design this course for?
This course is designed for an Arabic-speaking audience that deals and/or works with nuclear material, other radioactive material, and associated facilities and activities. In a review of online coursework, there does not appear to be any publicly-available online courses in Arabic on nuclear security.  Making the material available in Arabic widens the pool of learners who may want to or need to learn about nuclear security, but who may not be able to due to a difference in language.

What are you hoping to accomplish with the course work?
I am hoping to minimize the number of nuclear security events in the region by increasing the level of knowledge across the Arabic-speaking world on the topic of nuclear security.  

What nuclear security topics does this course cover?
The course objective is to provide knowledge related to nuclear security to Arabic speakers. The course consists of two sub-modules and each module is divided into five sessions.  Below is an outline of the basic objectives of each session.

Module 1: Introduction to Nuclear Security
Session 1: Introduction

  • Why is nuclear security (NS) important?
  • Describing the potential consequences associated with a nuclear security event
  • Video on Goiânia accident & associated consequences

Session 2: Overview on nuclear security

  • The basic concepts of nuclear security
  • IAEA guidance and its relation to international instruments
  • Definition of nuclear security
  • Essential elements of an effective nuclear security regime

Session 3: Threat description

  • Define target, nuclear security events, and an adversary; and describe the potential target

Session 4: Risk

  • Define nuclear security risk
  • Describe the need and the role of risk
  • Describe a graded approach
  • Describe defence in depth

Session 5: Nuclear security regime

  • The requirements for an effective State’s nuclear security regime, including policy (at State and facility level), technology (physical protection functions), and people (nuclear security culture)

Module 2: Nuclear Security Threat
Session 1: Target

  • Defining materials and facilities
  • Categorization of nuclear material and radioactive sources

Session 2: Adversary

  • Describe adversaries’ characteristics (motivation, intention and capability)
  • Distinguish between internal and external adversaries

Session 3: Threat assessment

  • Describe threat matrix
  • Define threat assessment

Session 4: Threat statement/Design Basis Threat (DBT)

  • Describe the relationship between a threat assessment and a threat statement
  • Describe a Design Basis Threat (DBT) and alternative threat statement

Session 5: Threat based-approach

  • Describe Regulatory approach
  • Distinguish between performance-based and prescriptive approaches
  • Describe how the threat statement is used in application of prescriptive, performance-based, and combined approaches

This project was made possible by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Nuclear Threat Initative. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the author.