On 12-13 July 2022, the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) held the 1st regional peer-to-peer (P2P) workshop with the participation of the State authorities in charge of countering radiological and nuclear (RN) trafficking in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Representatives of various agencies, with experience in bilateral and multilateral cooperation on nuclear security, gathered in Turin, Italy to assess and improve regional cooperation mechanisms on 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 for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (UK BEIS); the Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (DSA); and the U.S. 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 of the European Union Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Risk Mitigation Initiative.
The workshop was also attended by the representatives of Romanian agencies, who presented the roles and responsibilities of their national institutions in combating illicit trafficking of RN materials, as well as by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Over the course of the two-day meeting, participants introduced their counter RN trafficking systems along with capabilities and challenges faced with regard to regional cooperation and communication. They also discussed the efficiency of the current information-sharing mechanisms and identified future activities aimed at improving exchange of information.
“This was the first regional P2P workshop within the project “CONTACT – Black Sea” after a successful series of national and regional trainings on countering RN trafficking. The event at UNICRI HQ was an important opportunity for Georgian, Moldovan, and Ukrainian intelligence, law enforcement, prosecution and nuclear regulatory officers and mid-level policy and decision-makers to discuss regional cooperation in radiological and nuclear security. We got aware of existing practices for bilateral and multilateral cooperation their countries and discussed examples of such cooperation on specific criminal cases involving smuggling of RN material.
Furthermore, the meeting represented a useful platform for scenario-based discussions where countries exchanged their perspectives about the gaps and possibilities for information sharing, regional cooperation and communication mechanisms. I believe the participants also benefited from a better understanding on how Romania built its nuclear forensics capability. This session generated a lively discussions on possible ways for cooperation with the Horia Hulubei National Institute of Physics and Nuclear Engineering,” said Ms. Mari Lursmanashvili, Head of the Regional Secretariat for South East and Eastern Europe.
Mr. Francesco Marelli, Head of CBRN Risk Mitigation and Security Governance Programme, added: “I would like to congratulate all participants for the successful workshop. There is no doubt that international cooperation is vital to prevent and intercept RN trafficking attempts. Trafficking of RN material is a transnational issue, and no country can fight it alone. This workshop provided an opportunity for the representatives of the national authorities of the Black Sea countries to get together and discuss existing and successful functioning regional cooperation mechanisms, as well as the challenges they face with regard to cooperation with the neighboring countries. I believe this workshop not only was beneficial for the participants, who had an opportunity to exchange best practices, establish new contacts and underline their priorities, but also for UNICRI and donor organizations that had an opportunity to evaluate the relevance of the project activities."
The 1st regional peer-to-peer workshop is the first of a series of four regional events to be conducted under the umbrella of the CONTACT – Black Sea project. The remaining two peer-to-peer workshops and the final tabletop exercise will contribute to the review of the existing gaps, the identification of the relevant solutions and the planning of future actions.
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 the UNICRI and jointly funded by the United Kingdom Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (UK BEIS); the Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (DSA); and the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA).