Terrorism that makes use of CBRNE materials (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives) poses a clear threat to public health and safety, 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.
Radiological and nuclear terrorism
Radiation is all around us and comes in different forms. Only rarely is it dangerous. Nuclear and other radioactive materials are generally well protected.
However, the possibility that criminals and terrorists could obtain nuclear or other radioactive materials for malicious use has become a real threat to global security. Clearly, the consequences could be catastrophic.
Criminals and terrorists may try to obtain nuclear or radioactive materials by smuggling or stealing them from nuclear sites and storage facilities.
Additionally, nuclear or radioactive materials are appearing with increasing frequency in organized and environmental crimes, such as illegal disposal schemes.
Dangerous levels of radiation could easily spread, affecting not just individual countries but entire regions. Any radiological or nuclear incident would have ramifications for national security and economic and political stability on a global level.
Our strategy consists of three main pillars:
- Information sharing and analytical support
- Capacity building and training
- Operational and investigative support
Information sharing and analytical support
Information is essential in order for INTERPOL and police services worldwide to tailor their operations to specific threats and to drive prevention programmes.
Project Geiger collates and analyses information regarding incidents of the illicit use of nuclear or radioactive materials, trends and risks. The Project Geiger database combines data from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) with open-source reports and law enforcement data collected through INTERPOL’s channels.
Capacity building and training
We run a series of training courses and table-top exercises to help member countries develop their capacity to prevent and respond to nuclear or radioactive incidents.
No single agency is able to address this problem alone. Therefore, the courses bring together representatives from police, customs, border security agencies, public health, partners, regulatory bodies, and ministries of foreign affairs, interior and energy.
Radiological and nuclear investigations training course
- Assists in implementing a methodology for effective intelligence-driven, prevention-oriented investigations;
- Promotes cooperation among the different sectors at a national and a regional level in order to develop a coordinated national prevention and response plan.
Counter nuclear smuggling workshop
- Raises awareness of the illicit trafficking of nuclear and other radioactive material;
- Promotes the establishment of national Counter Nuclear Smuggling teams;
- Encourages countries to participate in INTERPOL’sOperation Fail Safe, which gathers information on individuals known or suspected to be involved in the illicit trafficking of nuclear or other radioactive material.
Radiological nuclear table-top exercise
- Serves as a follow up to the training courses outlined above, both to reinforce the concepts covered and to assess the participants’ ability to respond to a multi-faceted scenario.
- This activity is developed in cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Operational and investigative support
We support law enforcement activities in the field, as follows.
Through Project Stone (Stop Trafficking of Nuclear Elements), we provide technical resources and training in two ways:
- A capacity building phase to train law enforcement officers in the necessary skills, including evidence collection, investigation and prevention.
- An operational phase to help put those skills into practice in the field. This includes an international operation conducted at border points in which officers run checks against INTERPOL’s criminal databases.
Operation Conduit is carried out at international airports and sea ports. Following a training session for the participating law enforcement officers from police, customs and border security agencies, passengers are screened at security checkpoints for radioactive and explosive materials.
This initiative is supported by the United States Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration’s Nuclear Smuggling Detection and Deterrence Program.
A pilot project in 2016, Mercury will initially be focused on the area of radiological and nuclear terrorism. In time, it will be expanded to cover all CBRNE modalities. Training exercises will be carried out at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) and will prepare international law enforcement officials to take immediate, decisive action in preventing or responding to terrorist use of CBRNE materials.
Nuclear or radiological terrorism is a global threat with transnational consequences. International cooperation is therefore crucial.
Of special note is the relationship between INTERPOL and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
INTERPOL represents the international law enforcement community in its role as an Observer at The Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT).
INTERPOL is an observing international organization in the Nuclear Security Summits. Having taken part in meetings in 2012 (Seoul, Republic of Korea) and 2014 (the Hague, the Netherlands), we will also participate in the 2016 Summit in Washington DC, USA.
Global Counter Nuclear Smuggling Conference
27-29 January 2016
Jürgen Stock, INTERPOL Secretary General, INTERPOL Counter Nuclear Smuggling conference
Alan King, Coordinator of INTERPOL's Radiological Nuclear Terrorism Prevention Unit
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 via the offline form that may be downloaded from the secure NCB website. All reports must be either copied to or sent by the National Central Bureau.