Nuclear and radioactive material from hospitals, power plants or industrial facilities can be abandoned, lost, or even stolen. Early detection of these sources is essential to bring the material under control and protect the public from exposure to radiation, prevent environmental contamination or an act of terrorism.
Today, a state-of-the-art mobile radiation detection unit, destined for Ukraine, was handed over to the IAEA at its headquarters in Vienna, Austria.
The Sophisticated On-Site Nuclide Identification (SONNI) vehicle is to be used to strengthen the country´s nuclear security efforts prior to the UEFA EURO 2012 European football championship. The van, which costs around half a million Euros, was donated by Finland and Sweden.
The IAEA, as part of its nuclear security programme, is facilitating the transfer of the unit to Ukraine. In addition, it will work with experts from Finland to provide training on how to operate the vehicle.
"For some 20 years we have been supporting on a voluntary basis the development of new concepts and technologies, and offering training possibilities [in safeguards and related security measures]," said Ms. Marjatta Rasi, Finland´s Ambassador to the IAEA, during the handover ceremony at the IAEA´s headquarters in Vienna on 22 April 2010.
"The support to the IAEA´s programme is complemented by the bilateral programme between Finland and the Ukraine within which this project was carried out."
Commenting on the project, Mr. Hans Lundborg, Sweden´s Ambassador to the IAEA, praised the spirit of cooperation that made it possible.
"This is a good example of concrete cooperation and how we can support other countries," he said.
Mr. Volodymyr Yelchenko, Ukraine´s Ambassador to the IAEA, thanked the donor countries, recognizing their invaluable support.
"This contribution and the level of technical assistance from the nuclear regulatory authorities of Finland and Sweden are of big value and importance for my country," he said.
The IAEA´s Anita Nilsson, Director of the Office of Nuclear Security, also highlighted the importance of cooperation when dealing with nuclear security issues. "This is a good example of a multilateral approach to a problem. This is a great achievement. We, the IAEA, are very proud of being part of this process," she said.
The IAEA helps its 151 Member States to reduce the risk of nuclear terrorism and draw plans for an effective response to eventual malicious acts involving the use of nuclear or other radioactive material.
In less than a decade, the IAEA has trained some 9 000 experts in 120 countries in all aspects of nuclear security; improved facility security in 30 states; supplied some 3 000 detection instruments to more than 50 states; helped repatriate more than a tonne of highly enriched uranium research reactor fuel to the countries of origin; and the Agency´s Illicit Trafficking Database, with 110 states participating, is the most authoritative source of information in its field.
For years, the IAEA has been providing specialized technical assistance and expert advice in the nuclear security field to countries that host major public international events. In addition to working with the organizers of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, the IAEA has supported nuclear security measures for the 2008 and 2004 Olympics in China and Greece, the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, and the 2007 Pan American Games in Brazil.