As 2003 opens, 22 countries and one organization, the Nuclear Threat Initiative, have pledged more than $12 million of support to the IAEA's Action Plan to upgrade nuclear security worldwide. Support includes cash contributions as well as services, equipment, or use of facilities. To date, the IAEA has received just under $8.5 million, or about 75% of the amounts pledged. See Table.
The plan supplements efforts by countries working at the national level to upgrade physical protection of their nuclear material and nuclear facilities; detect malicious activities involving nuclear and other radioactive materials – such as illicit trafficking across borders; and improve control of radioactive sources.
IAEA Director General Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei said that while responsibility to counter potential acts of nuclear terrorism rests primarily with individual States, international co-operation was vital.
"Effectively upgrading security to protect against nuclear and radiological terrorism will require a sustained, multi-year effort. We will continue to work vigorously with governments to reduce our vulnerability to nuclear terrorism," he said.
Put in place within months of the September 2001 terrorist attacks in the USA, the plan is now being implemented on all fronts. Work to date includes:
- Peer reviews carried out to assess the physical protection at nuclear power plants and other facilities.
- Workshops and training courses held to help governments assess the threats to their nuclear facilities, raise their standards of security, improve control of nuclear and radioactive material, upgrade their border monitoring, and prepare response plans for nuclear and radiological emergencies;
- Missions sent to Afghanistan, Georgia, and Uganda to assist in recovering radiological sources that went astray or were not adequately protected;
- In mid-June, a partnership was established between Russia, the USA and the Agency to locate and secure powerful radioactive sources that were lost or abandoned during the dissolution of the former Soviet Union; and
- Work towards global adherence to a strengthened Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material.