IAEA Publishes Advisory Guide to Address Nuclear Terror Threat
Joint International Effort Produces First-of-its-Kind Document
Preparedness for the threat of possible nuclear or radioactive attack is a priority for international law enforcement organizations. Officers in an INTERPOL training course learn how to use a radiation counter. (Photo: V. Mouchkin/IAEA)
The IAEA today released a reference manual that details how to prevent, detect, and respond to an incidence of nuclear terrorism. Combating Illicit Trafficking in Nuclear and Other Radioactive Material serves as a how-to booklet on several topics related to combating criminal acts involving nuclear and radioactive material. The 150+ page text is intended for a broad audience, including law enforcement agencies, legislators, customs and border patrol personnel, intelligence officials, emergency response teams and users of nuclear technology.
"In addition to providing recommendations on how to prevent, detect, and respond to a possible nuclear or radiological attack, this document is also a call for greater harmonization between agencies and governments who may be called upon to deal with such a threat," said Reza Abedin-Zadeh, IAEA Department of Nuclear Security Officer.
The manual is composed of four sections, containing:
- Discussion of the nature of the threat posed by illicit acts utilizing nuclear and radioactive material, along with an outline of policy and legal frameworks currently in place to hinder such an act;
- Review of international steps being taken to counter the threat;
- Primer on radioactive material, the public health risks associated with exposure to radiation, and information on current applications and transport issues involving radioactive material; and
- Advisory text on how countries can prevent, detect and confront a possible threat.
Tackling the unauthorized movement of nuclear and radioactive material poses a multifaceted challenge to countries and officials responsible for public security. In response to the threat of a possible radioactive terrorist attack, states and organizations have begun to synchronize their information-sharing capabilities on a wider scale. The release of this Illicit Trafficking handbook aims to further these efforts by providing a resource foundation to guide cooperative measures around policy, training and awareness.
Developed in cooperation with INTERPOL (International Police Organization), EUROPOL (European Police Organization), and the World Customs Organization, the handbook is the first to provide a comprehensive guide that addresses the multifaceted threat of a possible nuclear terror attack. Though the Agency has previously issued a series of technical publications to assist police, customs and law enforcement officers in anticipating or addressing criminal acts involving nuclear or radioactive material, this publication is intended for a wider, non-technical audience.
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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