INTERPOL role in combating illicit nuclear material trafficking recognized by Nuclear Security Summit

27 March 2012

SEOUL, Korea – World leaders at the Nuclear Security Summit have emphasized the need to prevent non-state actors, especially terrorists, from acquiring nuclear and radioactive material and pledged to strengthen cooperation and encourage greater information-sharing with INTERPOL to combat illicit trafficking in nuclear material.

Attended by more than 53 heads of states and international organizations, the two-day summit (26-27 March) in Korea also identified areas for enhanced cooperation by member states to combat the threat of nuclear terrorism and the protection of radioactive materials and associated facilities.

Addressing the meeting, INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble said the risk of nuclear and radiological materials of being smuggled was very clear, pointing to the intelligence gathered on more than 2,700 cases as part of INTERPOL’s Project Geiger within the framework of the organization’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives (CBRNE) programme.

“Our common goal is to ensure that the single case which we have yet to face will never materialize,” said Mr Noble.

“Preventing the scenario of nuclear material being successfully smuggled and used in an improvised device will require rapid and secure law enforcement communication across borders, the capacity to identify and track individuals involved in trafficking in the field, and fast, coordinated multinational action,” stated the INTERPOL chief.

“This is exactly what INTERPOL can provide through its network and Operation Fail Safe. This is the huge potential behind the Summit’s call to states to share information via INTERPOL,” concluded Secretary General Noble.

Operation Fail Safe provides a new capability to police around the world to track individuals involved in the trafficking of radioactive or nuclear material, primarily using INTERPOL’s system of notices. Green Notices are issued in order to warn member countries about a person's criminal activities if that person is considered to be a possible threat to public safety.

Under Fail Safe, law enforcement officers at border crossings or other key locations will be able to instantly query INTERPOL’s databases to verify if an individual is the subject of a Green Notice. A match will trigger an alert containing details of the country location and identity of the individual at INTERPOL’s 24-hour Command and Coordination Centre (CCC) at INTERPOL’s General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, France which will then notify the CBRNE Programme.

This alert and notification process, coordinated by the INTERPOL CBRNE Programme, will allow law enforcement agencies to detect the movements of known individuals and better cooperate and coordinate their actions for combating nuclear smuggling worldwide.