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:

  • 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.

The 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’s Operation Fail Safe, which gathers information on individuals known or suspected to be involved in the illicit trafficking of nuclear or other radioactive material.

The 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.

Project Stone

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

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.

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.

16 December 2016

INTERPOL workshop focuses on chemical security risks and challenges

10 November 2016

Operational training exercise targets smuggling of nuclear and radiological materials

14 October 2016

Multi-agency response to bioterrorism incidents focus of INTERPOL exercise

30 September 2016

Investigating radiological crime scenes focus of INTERPOL training

23 September 2016

INTERPOL training in Bali targets trafficking of chemical and explosive materials

23 September 2016

Challenges in responding to infectious disease incidents focus of INTERPOL meeting

19 July 2016

INTERPOL workshop delivers biosafety curriculum for law enforcement

01 July 2016

US and INTERPOL hold multilateral dialogue on nuclear smuggling prosecutions

14 June 2016

Information sharing on bomb makers focus of Project Watchmaker meeting

20 May 2016

Operational exercise targets smuggling of chemical explosives

19 May 2016

Countering terrorism threat to food supplies focus of international symposium

01 April 2016

INTERPOL Chief discusses terrorism in CNN interview

01 April 2016

Effective information sharing underpins efforts against nuclear terrorism – INTERPOL Chief

25 March 2016

INTERPOL holds bioterrorism workshop

29 January 2016

INTERPOL nuclear trafficking conference looks ahead to 2016 Nuclear Summit

27 January 2016

INTERPOL conference targets global nuclear trafficking

22 January 2016

INTERPOL training course targets chemical smuggling

13 November 2015

Cross-border collaboration on biological incident investigations focus of INTERPOL workshop

23 October 2015

INTERPOL course aims to boost efforts against chemical attacks

22 October 2015

Nuclear and radiological terrorism focus of INTERPOL exercise in Thailand

02 October 2015

Cambodia hosts INTERPOL training against smuggling of chemicals

23 September 2015

INTERPOL and FBI to forge closer ties against terrorism and cybercrime

04 September 2015

International Leaders’ Forum backs creation of Global Alliance to combat IED threat

02 September 2015

Tackling global threat of improvised explosive devices focus of international forum

23 July 2015

Enhancing law enforcement response capability for disease outbreaks focus of INTERPOL workshop

07 May 2015

Identifying biological threats to strengthen response capability focus of workshop

29 April 2015

Addressing threat of agroterrorism focus of INTERPOL meeting

09 April 2015

Operation targeting chemical smuggling in Asia nets hijacked ship

13 March 2015

US Congressional visit to INTERPOL focuses on combating terrorism

10 March 2015

Jordan hosts bioterrorism preparedness table top exercise

Nuclear Security Summit
31 March – 1 April 2016
Washington DC, USA


US President Barack Obama welcomed INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock to the White House as the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit got under way.


Global Counter Nuclear Smuggling Conference
27-29 January 2016
Lyon, France

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.