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International Conference on Illicit Nuclear Trafficking To Open in Edinburgh

Meeting in Edinburgh

Delegates are set to meet at the Edinburgh International Convention Centre to address the issue of illicit nuclear trafficking. (Photo: ECCI)

More than 300 representatives from over 70 countries are set to meet in Edinburgh, UK, next week to assess future challenges from trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive material and review how effectively this threat is being met. Participants include experts from the nuclear security, intelligence, justice, regulatory, customs, border control, law enforcement communities as well as non-governmental organizations.

The four-days long International Conference on Illicit Nuclear Trafficking: Collective Experience and the Way Forward, which is organized by the IAEA and hosted by the government of the UK in the Edinburgh Convention Centre, opens on 19 November and closes on the 22nd.

The Edinburgh event will provide participants with a forum for reviewing achievements in curbing the unlawful movement of radioactive and nuclear material. They will be asked to identify ways to strengthen the international community´s defense against future threats and pay attention to the IAEA´s nuclear security programme, and make recommendations for its ongoing course.

According to Anita Nilsson, Head of the IAEA´s Office of Nuclear Security, the international community is becoming increasingly aware of the threat deriving from illicit nuclear trafficking. "Steps to combat the risk from trafficking in nuclear and radioactive material are now considered a routine part of providing public security," said Ms. Nilsson.

She also noted that international concern in this area is demonstrated by the emergence of new or strengthened legal instruments such as the Convention on Nuclear Terrorism, amendments to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and UN Security Council Resolutions which obligate States and the IAEA to take more actions in this area.

For years now, the IAEA has been helping Member States to tackle the issue of illicit nuclear trafficking, advising them on the measures needed to improve security. Through its Nuclear Security Plan for 20062009 (Plan), the IAEA established an overarching goal to contribute to strengthened nuclear security worldwide. The Plan builds on recent achievements in strengthening the international legal instruments that are relevant to nuclear security. A key function of the Plan is to establish an internationally accepted nuclear security framework of recommendations and guides including for the detection of and response to thefts and losses, unlawful possession and trafficking, illegal disposal and criminal and unauthorized use of nuclear and other radioactive material. International consensus guidance documents are disseminated through a new IAEA Nuclear Security Series of publications. The Plan further provides for activities that include assessment and evaluation services, technical advice, human resource development programmes and, to a limited extent, needed technical equipment.

The IAEA also maintains an information system on incidents of illicit trafficking and other criminal or unauthorized activities involving nuclear and radioactive materials. To date, the Illicit Trafficking Database (ITDB) has received reports from participating States on approximately 1250 incidents ranging from illegal possession, attempted sale and smuggling, to unauthorized disposal of these materials and recoveries of radioactive sources. Currently, 96 States participate in the ITDB Programme, which was established in 1995. In some cases, non-participating Member States have provided information to the ITDB.

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