Sandia Labs News Releases

Chinese nuclear security center opens with help from Sandia Labs

Sandia helps support physical protection system to train future nuclear security experts

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) Principal Deputy Administrator Madelyn Creedon, Sandia National Laboratories President and Labs Director Jill Hruby and other experts and international guests joined with leaders of China on March 18 to commission the Chinese Center of Excellence (COE) for nuclear security.

Jill Hruby

Sandia President and Labs Director Jill Hruby joined U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz in China this month to commission a new Center of Excellence to promote nuclear security best practices in the region. (Photo by Randy Montoya) Click on the thumbnail for a high-resolution image.

The center will provide training for security personnel in China’s expanding nuclear power sector.

“I am honored to represent Sandia at this auspicious occasion,” Hruby said. “We look forward to continuing our collaboration with colleagues at the Center of Excellence to promote nuclear security best practices in China and across the region.”

DOE/NNSA and the China Atomic Energy Authority agreed to establish the center in a memorandum of understanding signed in 2010. Led by DOE/NNSA, Sandia along with three other national laboratories — Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico; Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee; and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington — and the Department of Defense’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency contributed equipment and expertise crucial to the design and development of the center.

The Sandia Labs team consulted with the Chinese State Nuclear Security Technology Center (SNSTC) on the design, operation and testing of a physical protection system at a mock material processing nuclear facility at the COE for the proper handling and storage of special nuclear material.

Sandia will also support the future success of the center through the design of nuclear security curriculum to train China’s security professionals how to protect nuclear facilities and materials. The work is part of Sandia’s global security work to enhance security through partnerships that build a capacity worldwide to prevent the misuse of nuclear, chemical, biological and radiological materials.

“It’s in our national interest that everybody’s nuclear materials are secure,” said Nick Winowich, a civil engineer at Sandia. “We want to share our expertise in securing nuclear facilities and materials.”

Performance-based design protects facilities

Sandia’s leadership in physical security grew out of decades of work securing high-consequence facilities against theft and sabotage. Used across the DOE enterprise and by other U.S. and international agencies, performancebased design specifically defines a facility’s characteristics, vulnerabilities and all the potential security risks, including an adversary’s capabilities. Its central concept ensures that the time intruders need to steal materials or sabotage a facility exceeds the time responders need to stop them in a fully integrated system.

Armed with that analysis, Sandia designs physical protection systems that are customized to meet a specific facility’s needs.

According to Sandia employees, the lab and its counterparts at the China SNSTC developed a cooperative working relationship that will continue to support nuclear security and nonproliferation in the region long after the opening of the center.

Sandia National Laboratories is a multi-program laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corp., for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies and economic competitiveness.

Sandia news media contact: Heather Clark,, (505) 844-3511