TBILISI, Georgia – An international police operation carried out at Tbilisi International Airport by Georgian law enforcement in coordination with INTERPOL has seen thousands of passengers screened as part of an exercise against the illicit trafficking of nuclear and radioactive materials.
Involving INTERPOL’s Radiological and Nuclear Terrorism Prevention Unit (RNTPU) and INTERPOL Tbilisi, Operation Conduit (16 and 17 February) saw close to 25 officers deployed to the airport.
The operation included the systematic screening of people and cargo using fixed radiation portal monitors, backed by mobile radiation equipment intended to detect the movement of radioactive materials and contaminated persons.
The Head of the National Central Bureau (NCB) in Tbilisi, Aleksandre Arakishvili said: “We are pleased that Georgia was chosen to be the first country to host Operation Conduit. This demonstrates the close cooperation between INTERPOL’s General Secretariat, Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and INTERPOL Tbilisi. We look forward to further collaboration in the field.”
The operation also saw more than 2,000 checks carried out by a mobile facial recognition system operating in real time, as part of a pilot phase. It was deployed by INTERPOL’s Fingerprint unit.
With the support of INTERPOL’s Integrated Border Management Task Force, the world police body’s nominal database was also made available during the operation at the airport so as to help Georgian authorities detect any wanted persons as part of the passenger screening exercise.
“This type of operation against the threat of nuclear or radiological smuggling brings together a range of INTERPOL policing capabilities and demonstrates the level of effectiveness and collaboration which can be achieved by acting simultaneously at one particular border crossing location,” said RNTPU coordinator Maksim Rozalka.
Funded by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change, Operation Conduit was the first such operation carried out by INTERPOL’s Radiological and Nuclear Terrorism Prevention Unit under the umbrella of INTERPOL’s CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives) Sub-Directorate.
The illicit trafficking worldwide of nuclear or other radioactive material was the focus of the first-ever global nuclear smuggling conference which INTERPOL hosted in January.
Outcomes from the 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 – including INTERPOL – at the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington DC (31 March and 1 April).