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18 October 2013

INTERPOL exercise boosts radiological and nuclear terrorism response capacity in Ukraine and Belarus

KIEV, Ukraine – Specialized officials from Ukraine and Belarus law enforcement, customs, border control, public health, regulatory and security services have taken part in a tabletop exercise aimed at testing their capacity to prevent nuclear and radiological terrorism and to identify best practices in responding to such attacks.

Organized by INTERPOL’s CBRNE Sub-Directorate and the INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB) for Ukraine, the three-day (15 – 17 October) event gave regional specialists a unique opportunity to address a fictional radiological nuclear terror attack scenario to better identify the security threat these hazardous materials pose in the region and to develop a joint prevention and response plan.

“Radiological and nuclear attacks are a genuine risk worldwide and the threat they pose should not be underestimated.  The worst-case scenario can happen anytime, anywhere, and law enforcement and its partners  must be prepared,” said Alan King, INTERPOL’s Radiological Nuclear Coordinator. 

“By simulating a regional attack and its aftermath, we improve our joint understanding of the role of each sector in responding to an incident which in turn helps us to identify gaps and redundancies,” he added.

Practical exercises animated by an expert in nuclear chemistry and forensic science enabled participants to actively address evolving methodology as it relates to crime-scene protocols in cases involving nuclear or radioactive materials.

"The problem of radiological or nuclear terrorism is very real, and to tackle it effectively, international cooperation is essential,” said Head of INTERPOL Kiev, General Major Vasyl Nevolia.  “This event is a reflection of our efforts to strengthen international cooperation with INTERPOL in tackling the threat of nuclear materials being used for illegal purposes, particularly terrorism,"  he added.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) supported the exercise through the provision of materials promoting safe nuclear technologies and illustrating how countries can upgrade nuclear safety and respond to emergencies effectively. 

The INTERPOL table-top exercises are part of its global ‘All Hazards Counter Measures’ programme to help police services worldwide develop a capacity to prevent and respond to nuclear or radioactive incidents. Panama hosted an exercise in August 2013 and one is planned for February 2014 on the margins of the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit to be held in The Hague, the Netherlands.