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Unicri and Canada Initiate Cooperation to Counter Nuclear Trafficking in the Middle East

Turin (Italy) -

On 27 March 2019, UNICRI and Global Affairs Canada signed a multi-year agreement for the implementation of the project “Enhancing capacities to prevent the trafficking of radiological and nuclear (RN) material in the Middle East.”

The project, which will be addressed to state security and law enforcement officials in Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon, will be aimed at:

  • Improving Member States’ capabilities to devise, plan and carry out intelligence operations to thwart RN trafficking attempts by creating groundwork towards a sustainable training system for law enforcement, intelligence officials and other relevant ministries and agencies.
  • Fostering regional cooperation and sharing of information related to investigations of RN trafficking cases through a series of regional workshops, meetings and exercises to exchange best practices and challenges, identify gaps in the current information sharing mechanisms and jointly elaborate a set of future activities aimed at addressing the identified gaps.

The threat of radiological and nuclear terrorism, and consequently the importance of nuclear non-proliferation, are among the most pressing concerns on today’s international agenda. Factors such as regional instabilities, on-going and frozen conflicts, uncontrolled territories, and growing dangerous links between organized crime and terrorist groups have increased the risk of terrorist and criminal organisations obtaining radiological and nuclear material. Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon have acknowledged these risks in their National Action Plans for mitigating threats stemming from chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) material.

Within this context, the present project will focus on a crucial issue that has sometimes been overlooked in past technical assistance projects, namely the role of State security agencies in preventing RN trafficking. Effective and carefully planned intelligence and law enforcement operations are essential if efforts to illicit traffic of RN materials are to be thwarted. Indeed, the evidence indicates that the vast majority of successful seizures was attributable to soundly planned and executed intelligence operations. In addition, the project will promote regional cooperation and information-sharing on malevolent RN acts, in line with the countries’ CBRN strategies and Action Plans.

In January 2019, UNICRI and Global Affairs Canada signed another agreement for the implementation of the project “Global Biosecurity Risk Analysis and Needs Assessment”, aimed at assisting countries in the Middle East, South America and South-East Asia to carry out a comparative analysis of different national assessments and identify gaps and trends in biosafety and biosecurity oversight frameworks.