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CONTACT: Enhancing capacities to prevent the trafficking of radiological and nuclear (RN) material


The threat of radiological and nuclear (RN) trafficking and proliferation are among some of the most pressing concerns on today’s interna­tional agenda. Factors such as regional instabilities, on-going and frozen conflicts, and uncontrolled territories make it difficult to prevent and deter RN trafficking, which represents an appealing prospect to many smugglers due to a decades’ old fallacy that smuggling RN material is extremely valuable and profitable.

The CONTACT programme was first launched in the Middle East in 2019 with the financial support of Global Affairs Canada in order to address the heightened risk of RN trafficking in the region. To address this risk, UNICRI implemented training activities for state security and law enforcement officials, with a focus on carrying out intelligence operations to thwart RN trafficking attempts.

After the success of this first iteration, and thanks to funding from the United Kingdom Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, and the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the programme was expanded to the Black Sea region in 2020. In 2021, the programme was again expanded, this time to South-East Asia with the continued generous support of Global Affairs Canada.


Objectives and activities

The CONTACT programme aims at providing training and capacity building activities to improve the capability of state security and law enforcement officials to devise, plan and carry out intelligence operations to thwart RN trafficking attempts. The programme also has the objective of fostering regional cooperation and information sharing related to investigations of RN trafficking cases.

A core activity of the CONTACT programme is the development and implementation of a train-the-trainers course on enhancing capabilities to counter RN trafficking. The course offers a broadband approach to the subject but has a special focus on using intelligence as an essential, efficient tool in anti-trafficking operations, as well as methodological and conceptual tools to enhance training delivery capacities within countries’ own national frameworks.



@UN Photo/Pernaca Sudhakaran