On 14 and 15 February 2023, the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) held the second regional peer-to-peer (P2P) workshop on the detection of radiological and nuclear (RN) material by intelligence in the territories outside government control.
The workshop brought together security and law enforcement officers from Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine to share experiences and discuss challenges related to the detection of RN material in the territories outside government control in the Black Sea region. The two-day workshop comprised of country presentations, scenario-based group discussions, a table-top exercise as well as presentations from international and regional actors such as the European Union Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine (EUBAM) and the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL). Altogether 20 experts from different agencies of the participating countries took part in the event.
Over the past years, the three countries have pointed out that uncontrolled territories in the region pose significant challenges in terms of radiological and nuclear security. State authorities have reported that a significant number of RN trafficking attempts originated from territories outside their control. Although the deployment of mobile radiation detection systems at administrative boundary lines is a crucial component of national detection architecture, it is equally important to establish detection mechanisms through information and collect and act upon intelligence on potential RN trafficking incidents.
The workshop was conducted within the framework of the project “CONTACT – Black Sea: Enhancing capacities to prevent the trafficking of radiological and nuclear material in the Black Sea region”, jointly funded by the United Kingdom Department of Energy Security and Net Zero (UK DESNZ); the Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (DSA); and the United States Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). The organization of the event was facilitated by the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) National Focal Points and the Head of the Regional Secretariat for South East and Eastern Europe.
In view of the challenges faced by the region, Leif Villadsen, Deputy Director of UNICRI emphasized the importance of continued engagement with nuclear security stakeholders in countering RN trafficking through intelligence and law enforcement operations, as one of the most effective tools to intercept criminals trying to sell radioactive material.
“Being prepared to counter radiological and nuclear trafficking is of paramount importance, now more than ever. This workshop provided a great opportunity for the three countries and relevant international actors to share good practices and challenges with regard to counter RN trafficking operations related to territories outside governmental control,” he said.
“The work in combating trafficking of RN material and collaboration between national responsible authorities, and between neighboring countries across borders is becoming increasingly more important in an unstable world. Norway is advocating strong emphasis on the importance of cooperation between the various authorities and organizations that are responsible for uncovering smuggling activities, which is the focus of the CONTACT Black Sea program. Norway have supported this program for several years and recognize the great importance of this work and the expertise of UNICRI experts,” said Ms. Charlotte Birke, Senior adviser at the Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (DSA).
On the 1st of June 2020, UNICRI officially launched the project “CONTACT - Black Sea: Enhancing capacities to prevent the trafficking of radiological and nuclear material in the Black Sea region”. The CONTACT - Black Sea project aims to enhance the capacities of security and law enforcement officials in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine to prevent and counter trafficking of radiological and nuclear material and foster regional cooperation and exchange of information on RN trafficking-related incidents. The project is implemented by UNICRI and jointly funded by the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero (UK DESNZ), the Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (DSA); and the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA).