CBRNE Terrorism Prevention Programme
Terrorism that makes use of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives (CBRNE) materials is commonly conceived as the worst case scenario of all terrorist attacks.
Although CBRNE terrorism is a low incidence crime, national and global implications of a successful attack are tremendously disturbing. Not only does this type of terrorism pose a clear threat to large-scale public health and safety, but such an event would have alarming ramifications for national security and economic and political stability on a global level. Accordingly, the prevention of such incidents is of the highest priority.
The threat of CBRNE terrorism is evolving and, with it, the risk of incidents intended to maximize the number of victims on a global scale. We know that terrorist groups are working hard to acquire CBRNE materials and the expertise to use them in their operations.
At INTERPOL, our CBRNE Terrorism Prevention Programme specializes in the prevention of the different aspects of CBRNE.
Radiological and nuclear terrorism
Radiation is all around us and comes in different forms. Only rarely is it dangerous. Radioactive and nuclear (RN) materials, or materials that produce radiation above the normal background rate, are generally well protected.
However, the possibility that terrorists or other criminals might obtain RN materials for malicious use has become a real threat to global security and has become more acute due to advances in information technology, financial globalization and the increased use of RN materials for lawful purposes.
Generally, radiological materials used for malicious purposes have been obtained by criminal means, for example smuggled or stolen from nuclear sites and storage facilities.
The consequences of a terrorist group developing the capacity to use nuclear or radiological materials to achieve their goals could be catastrophic.
The world’s law enforcement services must be prepared to confront the threat presented by terrorists who have developed a nuclear capability, either by obtaining a complete nuclear device or obtaining the materials and attempting to create one. The protection of civil nuclear facilities is an issue of great importance as well. There is also the risk of terrorists dispersing radiological material that is dangerous to human life. Several methods of dispersal are possible and police services need to consider how to prevent and respond to these situations.
Additionally, RN materials are appearing with increasing frequency in organized and environmental crimes, such as illegal disposal schemes carried out for profit.
Dangerous levels of radiation can easily spread from one country to the next. As such, the threats of RN terrorism affect not just individual countries but entire regions. Moreover, such an event would have alarming ramifications for national security and economic and political stability on a global level. Accordingly, the prevention of such incidents is of the highest priority.
The INTERPOL strategy for facing the threat posed by RN materials consists of three main pillars:
Intelligence is essential in order for INTERPOL and police services worldwide to tailor their operations to specific threats and to drive prevention programmes.
Project GEIGER focuses on collating and analysing information on illicit trafficking and other unauthorized activities involving RN materials.
The project was launched by INTERPOL in early 2005 with data and financial support from the Department of Energy of the United States of America (US). Shortly after, it became a joint initiative with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which continues to support the project.
The Project GEIGER database combines IAEA’s Illicit Trafficking Database with additional open-source reports and law enforcement data collected through INTERPOL’s secure channels.
The analytical products that are published are highly valuable to both the international law enforcement community and other international organizations working to prevent RN crimes.
These products include GEIGER monthly reports that assess the current RN material trafficking threat and other reports that address more specific issues, usually at the request of member countries or partner international organizations.
INTERPOL's prevention programmes include a planned series of training courses helping member county police services to develop a capacity to prevent and respond to RN incidents.
Central to this initiative is concept that no one governmental organization maintains the capability to address this problem alone. Therefore, INTERPOL champions the idea that police, public health, regulatory and policy professionals should come together to meet the threat in a prevention orientated manner.
Should an imminent threat present itself, or should an incident develop, INTERPOL will provide operational support to its member countries through:
- Deploying an Incident Response Team (IRT) with RN expertise to support law enforcement authorities in their criminal investigations;
- Conducting searches of INTERPOL's databases of nominal data, fingerprints, DNA profiles, and travel documents, upon request;
- Issuing notices, which are used to alert the international law enforcement community to wanted persons (red notices) or devices and weapons that pose a threat to public safety (orange notices);
- Providing strategic and tactical analytical expertise, upon request.
RN terrorism is a global threat with transnational consequences. Thus, international cooperation between nations and between international organizations is a crucial element in INTERPOL’s global strategy.
Of special note is the relationship between INTERPOL and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The IAEA works to promote safe, secure and peaceful uses of nuclear science and technologies. In the area of RN security, the IAEA helps countries to upgrade nuclear safety and to prepare for and respond to emergencies.
INTERPOL represents the international law enforcement community in its role as an Observer at The Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT). The GICNT develops partnerships and carries out multilateral activities with the aim of strengthening global capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to RN terrorism.
Bioterrorism | PDF 1 MB
News & media releases
Project Geiger Report Form for National Central Bureaus
Authorized users can report a nuclear or radiological incident or event, such as a theft, loss, detection or seizure in two ways:
- Via the online form. This will be sent directly to the INTERPOL General Secretariat.
- Via the offline form. This can be downloaded and emailed to other agencies and organizations as necessary, as well as the INTERPOL General Secretariat.
All reports must be either copied to or sent by the National Central Bureau.