LYON, France – The illicit trafficking worldwide of nuclear or other radioactive material was the focus of the first-ever global nuclear smuggling conference which INTERPOL hosted.
Organized by INTERPOL’s CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives) Sub-Directorate, the three-day (27-29 January) conference brought together experts in counter nuclear smuggling from organizations and countries worldwide who shared best practices as well as operational and investigative experiences with law enforcement officials. It was attended by some 270 participants from almost 120 countries.
Closing the conference, INTERPOL’s Executive Director of Police Services, Tim Morris, underlined the need for a global response to nuclear smuggling. He said that the production of an improvised nuclear device (IND), whilst difficult, could eventually be achieved by some terrorist organizations.
“At present, the acquisition of radiological and nuclear material and a means to deploy them effectively to cause maximum casualties is still largely problematic, and it is far easier for terrorists to attack using conventional means,” said Mr Morris.
But with terrorist groups seeking such materials and actively recruiting scientists to their cause to develop a method of delivery that will be effective and relatively easy, Mr Morris said there will come a time when a ‘tipping point’ is reached and it becomes easier for them to deliver a ‘dirty bomb’.
“To prevent that from happening, the world’s law enforcement agencies need to be ahead of the game and be prepared to counter the threat of the illicit trafficking of nuclear or other radioactive material as well as chemical and biological materials,” said INTERPOL’s Executive Director of Police Services.
The conference was a prelude to the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in Washington DC later this year (31 March and 1 April) which INTERPOL will attend. The world police body participated in the previous two summits (The Hague in 2014 and Seoul in 2012).
“As we prepare for the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington DC, our goal is to advocate for a more substantial global approach,” added Mr Morris.
Outcomes from the nuclear smuggling conference drawn from the input of participating member countries contributed to the Action Plan which will be considered by world leaders and heads of international organizations at the 2016 Washington DC Summit. They will reiterate their collective commitment to the goal of global nuclear security.
The audience at the nuclear smuggling conference heard that through its information sharing initiative Project Geiger, its workshops, training courses and exercises as well as its support to operations such as Fail Safe, Conduit and Stone, INTERPOL is making an important contribution to this international effort.