need a comprehensive strategy"
IAEA Director General on BBC Radio
Click here for the BBC Web page featuring the interview
Following is an
unofficial transcript of the Director General's BBC radio interview, which
aired 31 October 2001:
Dr. ElBaradei: After the 11th of September, we have realized that there is a new dimension to the nuclear threat. First because people have demonstrated that they are ready to sacrifice their life in the process of committing active terrorism. And secondly, because we have seen a new form of terrorism - an aerial attack on a building and the threat that a nuclear facility may be attacked in a similar manner. Now we have to consider it as a serious security threat.
BBC:In terms of resisting that threat, where are the weak links at the moment?
Dr. ElBaradei: The weak link is not with regard to a nuclear facility, but with regard to possession of nuclear material. We still see a lot of illicit trafficking of nuclear materials across borders. And also with regard to radioactive sources, sources used in every day life in industry and in medical applications. And that's where we really need to tighten security.
BBC:Is it possible to police such a broad brand of possible danger?
Dr. ElBaradei: We need to minimize the danger. Of course, we cannot eliminate every risk as we have seen. Our entire civilization is at risk now -- not only nuclear technology but also every other technology. We need to minimize the risk. We need to look at security of nuclear facilities, of nuclear materials, radioactive sources, even security of nuclear weapons. We have to upgrade security and do our best.
BBC:I hear talk about unconventional threats requiring unconventional responses. What did you particularly have in mind there?
Dr. ElBaradei:These are exceptional times as we have just indicated. For example, the US has established a no-fly zone. There are anti-aircraft guns installed around nuclear facilities. These are unconventional responses and each country will have to assess the threat risk associated with its facilities and take appropriate measures. There are national measures that need to be taken. There are also international measures, as I mentioned in the area of collaboration to counter smuggling, to share information. We need to develop a comprehensive strategy consisting of national and international measures, and we need to develop international standards that apply to all applications of nuclear techniques.
BBC:That requires conferences and very quick action, doesn't it?
Dr. ElBaradei:Yes. In fact this Friday we are going to have a meeting in Vienna with many experts in the area of terrorism to develop a quick response. I am going to our policy making organ, the Board of Governors of the IAEA, by the end of the month to propose action and hope we can start implementing it as soon as possible.