Nuclear and other radioactive materials are widely used in medicine, agriculture, industry, research and power production. If not handled securely, these materials may fall in the wrong hands and be used for malicious purposes.
Because of its devastating consequences and transboundary nature, the risk of nuclear or other radioactive material being used for terrorist or other criminal purposes by non-State actors continues to be one of the most serious threats of our time.
The universalization and effective implementation of the International Convention for the
Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (ICSANT) will contribute to a safer world by facilitating international cooperation, including the exchange of information on nuclear security threats, as well as prosecution and extradition of alleged offenders.
On 14 November 2023, UNODC held an event, the third within a series of online regional workshops, under the new EU Project Union Support for the universalisation and effective implementation of the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (ICSANT) which started on 1 July 2023 and will run until 30 June 2026. The workshop was addressed to countries in the Pacific that are not yet party to ICSANT. It benefited from the participation of government officials from the Cook Islands, Palau, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
Opening remarks were delivered by Mr Stefan Tressing, Deputy Head of the Division for Disarmament and Non-proliferation of the EU’s External Action Service. Mr Tressing informed participants of the EU’s long-standing commitment to ICSANT and emphasized how “it is our
common interest that fear of such events do not hamper the peaceful use of nuclear technologies in key areas to meet the sustainable development goals and to improve life conditions in many parts of the world, including in the Pacific.”
UNODC’s Officer-in-Charge for the Pacific Office, Ms Marie Pegie Cauchois, stressed how the risk of theft, smuggling and sabotage was high and that the transnational nature of the threat required a “dedicated and coordinated response from the international community and Member States”, as facilitated under ICSANT.
Mr. John Buchanan, Coordinator of INTERPOL’s Radiological Nuclear Terrorism Prevention Unit, shared the perspective of his organization in assessing threats of nuclear terrorism. He highlighted how when developing and implementing nuclear security legislative frameworks due consideration of “the nexus between radiological material, traditional organized crime and terrorism” and the six factors for threat assessment (“the availability, vulnerability and movability of the material” and “the motivations, intent and capability of the actors”) would be needed.
UNODC experts provided the audience with an overview of the provisions within ICSANT that could effectively assist States parties in preventing and suppressing terrorism and other criminal conduct involving nuclear or other radioactive material, as well the benefits of adherence to the Convention.
Participants were also informed on how to access the various types of support that UNODC and partners offer, such as capacity building, legislative assistance, e-learning modules and other tools and resources.