In bid to prevent nuclear terrorism, UN agency tracks illicit trafficking

In bid to prevent nuclear terrorism, UN agency tracks illicit trafficking

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Stepping up its efforts to prevent nuclear and radiological terrorism, the United Nations atomic watchdog agency says that as of today close to 60 new potentially illicit trafficking incidents have been reported just since the beginning of the year.

These include possible cases of unauthorized acquisition, provision, possession, use, transfer or disposal of nuclear material and other radioactive material.

Participants to the 48th International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) General Conference being held in Vienna this week have received an overview of how the Agency’s Illicit Trafficking Database, comprising information confirmed by states on illicit trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive materials, helps strengthen nuclear security.

In a report to the Agency’s Board of Governors last week, IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei warned that although preventive efforts continue to accelerate and expand, “clearly, the circumstances that first led to a plan for protection against nuclear and radiological terrorism have not diminished.”

Some 540 illicit incidents spanning the past decade were reported through December 2003, but “as of today, the number is closer to 600, subject to fuller review and confirmation,” the IAEA said in a news release.

Several hundred additional incidents, reported in open sources but not confirmed by states, are also tracked in the IAEA database but not included in the confirmed statistics. Of the 540 confirmed cases as of December, 182 involved nuclear material, 330 radioactive material other than nuclear, 23 both nuclear and other radioactive material, and five other material.

The database includes reported incidents from the 80 participating Member States. Non-participating States are urged to join the Database in order to enhance the programme.