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NUCLEAR TERRORISM
Examining the Issues

06/12/07

Globally speaking: Ruben Ramirez, Head of the Department of Physical Protection and Safeguards in Mexico (lower right); Allan Murray of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization (upper right); Dr. Cynthia Jones, Senior Technical Advisor for Nuclear Security at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (lower left); Eric Plaisant, Chief Superintendent of the French National Police (upper left).
Globally speaking: Ruben Ramirez, Head of the Department of Physical Protection and Safeguards in Mexico (lower right); Allan Murray of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization (upper right); Dr. Cynthia Jones, Senior Technical Advisor for Nuclear Security at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (lower left); Eric Plaisant, Chief Superintendent of the French National Police (upper left).

Under sunny skies in Miami, experts from around the world are talking about a dark scenario: the use of nuclear and radiological materials by terrorists.

It is day two of the "Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism Law Enforcement Conference," a week-long event being put on by the FBI for law enforcement, intelligence, and security professionals from nearly 30 countries.

The conference is examining the many sides of the issue—from security at seaports to the containment of radioactive sources throughout around the world. The approximately 450 speakers and delegates are sharing their stories—not only what improvements they've made and plans put in place, but also lessons learned along the way.

All agree that the threat is both serious and complex…and that there are many questions to answer. Think about what would happen—as one presenter here pointed out—if terrorist bombs set off in Bali and Jakarta in recent years had also created blast areas contaminated by radioactive materials.

Just a few of the speakers and the issues discussed on Tuesday:

  • Vayl Oxford, Director of the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office in the Department of Homeland Security, talked about his office's many initiatives and plans to prevent nuclear and radiological attacks—including the testing and deployment of a variety of radiation detection devices. He said that more than 90 percent of all cargo coming into the U.S. is being scanned by such devices and talked about city-wide and regional plans to put comprehensive detection systems into place, as well as the various international initiatives his office is supporting. FBI agents are detailed full-time to the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, he said.
  • Representatives from Australia, France, and the U.S. discussed security at nuclear facilities and the protection of radiological sources in their various countries and regions. Australia, for example, is working with about a dozen countries in Southeast Asia—including Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines—to shore up legal frameworks, standards, capabilities, and expertise related to the security of radioactive source materials.
  • Luis Reyes, Executive Director for Operations at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, detailed the work that has gone into protecting nuclear facilities in the U.S., including improved physical security, risk assessments, security exercises, and coordination with the FBI's multi-agency National Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Stay tuned for continuing coverage of the conference during the week ahead.

Resources:
-- Monday's Story
-- FBI Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate
-- U.S. Domestic Nuclear Detection Office