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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.

The threats

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.

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.

Information sharing and analytical support

INTERPOL’s 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.

  • The Radiological and nuclear investigations training course.
  • The Counter nuclear smuggling workshop.
  • The Radiological nuclear table-top exercise.

Operational and investigative support

We support law enforcement activities in the field, as follows.

  • Project Stone.
  • Operation Conduit.
  • Project Mercury: 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.

International cooperation

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).

We are 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 are also participating in the 2016 Summit in Washington DC, USA.

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.