The Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) has made valuable contributions in strengthening global capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to nuclear terrorism. To date, the 85 partner nations have completed more than 60 activities under the auspices of the GICNT aimed at building partners’ capability to prevent, detect, deter, and respond to acts of nuclear terrorism. We, the Co-Chairs of the GICNT (Russia and the United States), the past and present Implementation and Assessment Group (IAG) Coordinators (Spain and Republic of Korea), and leaders of the three IAG Working Groups (the Kingdom of Morocco, the Netherlands and Australia) wish to inform the states in attendance at the 2014 Netherlands Nuclear Security Summit of the activities of the GICNT since the Nuclear Security Summit hosted by the Republic of Korea in Seoul in March 2012.
Over 250 representatives of GICNT partner nations and representatives from all four GICNT official observers (the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the European Union (EU), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL)) participated in the eighth GICNT Plenary Meeting, hosted by Mexico in Mexico City on May 24, 2013. This robust participation demonstrates the vital importance that GICNT partner nations place on enhancing nuclear security and underscores their desire to work cooperatively to further this goal. At the Plenary meeting, GICNT partners recognized the valuable contribution of the IAG mechanism created at the June 2010 GICNT Plenary meeting in Abu Dhabi. The U.S. and Russian Co-Chairs further recognized the contributions of Spain in serving as the IAG Coordinator for three years, including organizing and chairing the Implementation and Assessment Group meetings in Arona and Ispra, Italy, in October 2012 and in Madrid, Spain, in February 2013. Through its leadership, Spain brought strong focus and coordination to GICNT activities. At the 2013 Plenary, the Republic of Korea was endorsed as the new IAG Coordinator.
The collaborative efforts fostered by the GICNT are especially significant in light of the 2010 Washington Nuclear Security Summit, the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, and the 2014 The Hague Nuclear Security Summit. Already, GICNT collaboration has produced important results that complement the Nuclear Security Summit process and help advance critical elements addressed in the Summit:
The Nuclear Detection Working Group (NDWG), chaired by the Netherlands, is finalizing the Developing a Nuclear Detection Architecture series of documents following the publication of Volume I, Model Guidelines Document for Nuclear Detection Architectures, in 2009. Volume II in the series, Guidelines for Awareness, Training, and Exercises, and Volume III, Guidelines for Planning and Organization, focused on issues inherent to successful implementation and enhancement of nuclear detection architectures. Ukraine hosted a meeting of the NDWG in Lviv in November 2012 to further the development of the third document in the series. Volumes II and III in the foundational series were approved at the May 2013 GICNT Plenary meeting. At a workshop hosted by Greece in Athens in October 2013, the NDWG continued work on Volume IV, Guidelines for Detection within a State’s Interior, the final best practices guide in the series. Also during the Athens workshop, the NDWG began efforts to develop a tabletop exercise “playbook,” a compendium of detection-related exercise scenarios available to all GICNT partner nations.
The United Kingdom hosted the GICNT’s 2nd Symposium on Enhanced Detection of Special Nuclear Material in November 2012, to take stock of current advancements in detection technologies, drawing widely on the experiences of other GICNT partner nations.
In September 2012, Russia conducted an exercise on nuclear detection, “Guardian 2012.” During the exercise, Russia used a realistic scenario and real time activity to demonstrate the different aspects of Russia’s national system for detecting nuclear threats, thereby further raising awareness of best practices for the practical implementation of basic principles of nuclear detection architectures in the framework of the GICNT.
In February 2014, Mexico hosted a field training exercise under the auspices of the NDWG, during which the participants had the opportunity to observe implementation of a radiation detection alarm adjudication process and interagency communications protocol in response to realistic nuclear detection scenarios at the Port of Manzanillo. This exercise highlighted national best practices in detection systems and in coordination of a domestic interagency response to a nuclear terrorism event.
The Nuclear Forensics Working Group (NFWG), chaired by Australia, completed a document entitled, Nuclear Forensics Fundamentals for Policy Makers and Decision Makers, which was endorsed at the GICNT Plenary Meeting in May 2013. This document is intended to raise policy maker and decision maker awareness of nuclear forensics as a tool to enhance nuclear material security and to prevent illicit uses of nuclear and other radioactive material. In May 2012, Australia hosted “Iron Koala,” a nuclear forensics seminar and tabletop exercise, which examined the importance of information sharing partnerships, both nationally and internationally, to effectively respond to cases related to nuclear smuggling. This exercise identified an interest amongst GICNT partners in further study of the topic of information sharing in the nuclear forensics field. Thus the working group has commenced development of a document seeking to frame the issues related to sharing nuclear forensics information in the response to and investigation of a nuclear terrorism-related event, currently titled Sharing Nuclear Forensics Information: Benefits, Resources, and Challenges.
Also under the auspices of the NFWG, the United Kingdom hosted in January 2014 the “Nuclear Forensics Workshop and Exercise – Exploring the Nuclear Forensics Chain of Custody: Guidance on the Development of Legally Compliant Nuclear Forensics Capabilities and Systems.” The workshop incorporated a tabletop exercise “Blue Beagle” that demonstrated the British system for control and use of forensics evidence from a crime scene through its development and presentation as evidence in a courtroom and to its disposal. The workshop and exercise presented best practices for investigating a crime scene contaminated with radioactive material and showcased the critical steps needed to successfully introduce the evidence into legal proceedings.
Additionally, awareness-building information modules based on the GICNT Global Initiative Information Portal (GIIP) are in development. Currently, the NFWG is testing a National Nuclear Forensics Library module that provides policy-makers an outline of the national nuclear forensics library concept and identifies key resources for partner nations interested in further information on this subject.
The Response and Mitigation Working Group (RMWG), chaired by the Kingdom of Morocco, is working collaboratively to develop the Response and Mitigation Framework Document, a collection of key considerations that a country with limited capabilities should consider when initializing its national nuclear/radiological emergency response system. This document includes substantial input from the Moroccan experience in setting up its response capabilities. The Framework Document is intended as a living document, meant to be routinely updated and improved through follow-on practical activities and further input from partner nations. Morocco continues to work on an action plan for future RMWG activities aimed at strengthening GICNT partner capabilities in responding to a nuclear terrorism incident.
Under the auspices of the RMWG, Canada hosted the RADEX exercise in May 2012 in Toronto, to provide an overview of Canada’s emergency management and national security authorities and demonstrate its response to a terrorist attack. Spain and Morocco jointly hosted the REMEX-2013 exercise, in Madrid, Spain, in April 2013. This exercise helped to test the national capabilities of both countries and their cooperation on responding to and mitigating simultaneous terrorist attacks involving radioactive substances.
In October 2012, the RMWG and NWFG met jointly in Ispra, Italy, to address the intersections of the two working groups in responding to nuclear and radiological events. Based on the success of this joint activity, in February 2014, the NFWG and RMWG jointly held a workshop incorporating the tabletop exercise “Tiger Reef” focused on interagency coordination and training that highlighted best practices and key resources for integrating cross-disciplinary training into national response frameworks. “Tiger Reef” was hosted by Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur and was supported by Australia, New Zealand, and Malaysia.
Looking to the future, the GICNT Co-Chairs, the IAG Coordinator and the Working Group Leaders remain committed to working with GICNT partner nations to pursue focused efforts and activities that foster nuclear security collaboration and advance nuclear security goals. Moving forward, the GICNT leadership will seek to engage partner nations in practical exercises and workshops that enable them to prepare for and practice responding to nuclear security events. Such activities will focus on encouraging interagency, regional, and international cooperation and communication, in accordance with the proposals for GICNT work endorsed by the partners at the 2013 Plenary meeting in Mexico City. By enhancing partner nations’ capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to nuclear terrorism, GICNT will continue to strengthen nuclear security capabilities globally through efforts that complement and support the objectives of the Nuclear Security Summit.