Partner nations and official observers of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) gathered in Helsinki, Finland, June 16-17, 2015, for the GICNT’s 9th senior-level Plenary Meeting. Since it was launched in 2006, the GICNT has grown into a partnership of 86 nations and 5 official observers committed to strengthening global capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to nuclear terrorism. The Plenary Meeting underscored the GICNT’s unique ability to bring together policy, technical, and operational experts to enhance partners’ capabilities to address difficult and emerging nuclear security challenges.
The meeting opened with host welcome remarks by Ambassador Klaus Korhonen, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. Foreign Minister Timo Soini gave the keynote address on behalf of Finland.
The Russian Federation and United States were selected as Co-Chairs of the GICNT for the term 2015-2019. The Co-Chairs thanked all GICNT partner nations and official observers for their continued commitment to advancing the GICNT’s mission and welcomed Iraq as a new partner and the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) as a new official observer. The Co-Chairs also recognized the Republic of Korea (ROK) for its leadership as Implementation and Assessment Group (IAG) Coordinator. In this capacity, the ROK played a critical role in implementing the GICNT strategy announced at the 2013 Plenary Meeting in Mexico City, which called for an increase in practical, topically- and regionally-focused activities, such as workshops and exercises.
On behalf of all participants, the Co-Chairs thanked the Government of Finland for hosting the 2015 Plenary Meeting. The Co-Chairs also recognized Finland’s extensive leadership and commitment to nuclear security, exemplified by the hosting of the GICNT nuclear detection exercise, “Northern Lights,” earlier this year.
Plenary Reviews 2013-2015 Accomplishments
The Plenary reviewed key outcomes from the following events held since the 2013 Plenary Meeting:
- The United Kingdom hosted the nuclear forensics workshop and exercise, “Blue Beagle,” January 7-9, 2014, in London
- Malaysia hosted the cross-disciplinary training workshop and tabletop exercise, “Tiger Reef,” February 4-7, 2014, in Kuala Lumpur
- Mexico hosted a nuclear detection workshop and field training exercise on alarm adjudication and communications protocols February 25-28, 2014, at the Port of Manzanillo
- Argentina and Chile co-hosted the Radiological Emergency Management Exercise: “Paihuen,” August 5-7, 2015, in Buenos Aires
- Hungary hosted the nuclear forensics fundamentals workshop and tabletop exercise, “Csodaszarvas: Mystic Deer,” October 14-16, 2014, in Budapest
- Finland hosted the nuclear detection workshop and tabletop exercise, “Northern Lights,” January 26-28, 2015, in Helsinki
- The Netherlands hosted the International Conference and Mock Trial on Nuclear Forensics, “Glowing Tulip,” March 3-5, 2015, in The Hague
- The Philippines hosted the Public Messaging for Emergency Management Workshop, “Sugong Bagani: Envoy Warrior,” April 15-17, 2015, in Manila
- The European Union’s Joint Research Centre, Institute for Transuranium Elements, hosted the joint detection and forensics exercise, “Radiant City,” May 5-7, 2015, in Karlsruhe, Germany
To further develop Working Group products and plan future activities, Greece and the United States hosted Nuclear Detection Working Group (NDWG) workshops, France hosted a Response and Mitigation Working Group (RMWG) workshop, and Lithuania hosted a Nuclear Forensics Working Group (NFWG) workshop.
Implementation and Assessment Group (IAG) Meetings
The IAG Coordinator reported progress made since the previous GICNT Plenary meeting in Mexico City, Mexico, in 2013. Major IAG meetings held over the past two years included:
- An annual IAG Meeting in Seoul, Republic of Korea, July 1-4, 2014, where the three Working Groups held simultaneous sessions focusing on document review and future event planning. Partners discussed the GICNT’s Statement of Principles with the objective of developing proposed topics and themes for future activities that would build upon past work and address new or continuing nuclear security challenges. The feedback obtained from these strategic planning sessions played an important role in shaping the IAG Coordinator’s proposal for future areas of work.
- A Mid-Year IAG Meeting in Rabat, Morocco, February 17-19, 2015, where each Working Group held simultaneous sessions to finalize guidance documents, plan future activities, and discuss working group plans for 2015-2017. Partners also participated in the “Atlas Lion” tabletop exercise, which: explored, from a high-level policy perspective, the interfaces across the three working groups; identified the critical priorities that participants believed their senior leaders would have in a real-world nuclear security incident; and underscored the value of cross-disciplinary exercises in advancing the GICNT’s strategy.
Working Group Plans
The Dutch, Australian, and Moroccan chairs of the IAG Working Groups described their plans for future activities:
- The NDWG plans to: organize a series of regional exercises designed to address unique border detection challenges; focus on building partners’ capacity to implement a coordinated government approach to detecting illicit trafficking of nuclear and other radioactive material within a State’s interior; and utilize the “Exercise Playbook” to organize future activities.
- The NFWG plans to: utilize the Global Initiative Information Portal (GIIP) to uplift nuclear forensic capabilities self-assessment tools; focus on exercises that help partners validate existing mechanisms for seeking or providing international nuclear forensics assistance; and organize activities that promote the integration of nuclear forensics into national response plans.
- The RMWG plans to: focus on the fundamentals for developing and sustaining a national response framework; promote interagency coordination in support of response operations; and exercise principles and mechanisms that support international communication and requests for assistance during response operations.
All three Working Group Chairs emphasized the importance of continuing to implement joint working group and cross-disciplinary activities. The Co-Chairs recognized the contributions of the Working Group Chairs in advancing the objectives of the GICNT. The Co-Chairs also encouraged other partners to assume leadership roles, such as volunteering to organize and host future activities.
Endorsement of GICNT Documents
The IAG Coordinator introduced three documents produced in the IAG Working Groups for endorsement by GICNT Partner Nations.
- Fundamentals for Establishing and Maintaining a Nuclear Security Response Framework: A GICNT Best Practice Guide, which provides a strategic-level reference and key considerations for the development of a national response framework for preparing to respond to and mitigate the impacts of a radiological or nuclear terrorism incident.
- Exchanging Nuclear Forensics Information: Benefits, Challenges and Resources, a GICNT document that aims to increase awareness of the benefits and challenges of exchanging nuclear forensics information associated with a nuclear security event and identify potential mechanisms for enabling information exchange.
- Guidelines for Detection Within a State’s Interior, a GICNT best practice guide that completes the NDWG’s four volume Developing a Nuclear Detection Architecture Series and specifically focuses on the identification of significant challenges in building detection capabilities in the interior and options to mitigate those challenges.
Partner nations adopted these documents by consensus, and they are now considered official products of the GICNT.
The NDWG Exercise Playbook
The NDWG has also developed the “Exercise Playbook” – a collection of realistic scenarios that illustrate key nuclear detection challenges and can be used to help partners organize national-level exercises to promote practical implementation of nuclear detection best practices. The “Exercise Playbook” is intended to be a “living document” that could be further refined and updated. The IAG Coordinator encouraged partners to consider submitting additional case studies and exercises that could be incorporated into the document.
“Atlas Lion” Outcomes Considered
Partners discussed key outcomes from the “Atlas Lion” exercise and identified several priorities that senior leaders would likely focus on during a real-world nuclear security incident. Several partners shared their national-level perspectives, which provided potential models and best practices for other partners. Partners agreed that key themes from “Atlas Lion,” including interagency communication and coordination, international cooperation and assistance, public messaging, and promoting capacity-building in detection, forensics, and response, are critical topics that should continue to be the focus of future GICNT activities. “Atlas Lion” and the outcomes of several other GICNT activities implemented over the past two years have validated the existing structure of the GICNT, which serves as a platform for cross-disciplinary exchanges among groups of experts in different fields and underscores the value of cooperation among these different groups.
IAG Coordinator’s Message to the Plenary
The outgoing IAG Coordinator made several recommendations to the Plenary to advance the GICNT strategy. Key recommendations include: maintaining the GICNT’s three Working Groups; continuing cross-disciplinary work; developing thematic series of activities that increase in complexity to build partnership capacity; and enhance the utility of the Global Initiative Information Portal (GIIP).
Endorsement of a New IAG Coordinator
The Co-Chairs introduced the Kingdom of the Netherlands as the candidate for the next two-year IAG Coordinator term. The Co-Chairs highlighted the Netherlands’ contributions to nuclear security, including hosting the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit, 5th GICNT Plenary Meeting in 2009, and the March 2015 NFWG event, “Glowing Tulip,” as well as chairing the NDWG since 2010. The Plenary endorsed the Kingdom of the Netherlands as IAG Coordinator by consensus.
Partner Nations Look Forward to 2017
The Netherlands, in its capacity as the new IAG Coordinator, announced the continuation of Morocco and Australia as Chairs of the RMWG and NFWG, respectively. The IAG Coordinator also announced the selection of Finland as the new NDWG Chair.
Building on the proposals made by the former IAG Coordinator and partners’ feedback during the Plenary, the incoming IAG Coordinator presented ideas for a two-year strategy for advancing the GICNT’s mission. The IAG Coordinator recognized partners’ interest in continuing the strategic direction agreed upon at the Mexico Plenary, in particular by holding more practical activities, such as workshops and exercises, focused on building partners’ capabilities. The IAG Coordinator emphasized the utility in holding additional regional activities that identify and advance approaches to addressing unique regional nuclear security challenges. The IAG Coordinator also highlighted the need to continue exploring cross-disciplinary themes across Working Groups to promote interaction between various disciplines. Addressing challenges related to sustainability of expertise and facilitating the exchange of best practices on legal and regulatory frameworks were identified as two specific examples of cross-disciplinary topics in need of further GICNT focus. In addition, the IAG Coordinator expressed interest in identifying options for promoting the participation of industry representatives in GICNT activities. The IAG Coordinator concluded his remarks by offering to host a high-level meeting during the GICNT’s 10th anniversary in 2016.
From 2015-2017, GICNT partners will advance the IAG’s plan of work by continuing to support the development and implementation of practical activities that promote capacity-building across the GICNT focus areas of nuclear detection, forensics, and response and mitigation. Several activities will be designed to promote regional cooperation, while also seeking to develop best practices that can be shared with and benefit the global partnership. The GICNT will also emphasize the importance of developing thematic series of events, ensuring continuity between each event, and making sure that all activities build strategically upon one another to continue enhancing partners’ capabilities. In organizing future exercises, the GICNT will seek to focus on key fundamentals of exercise design, implementation, and self-assessment to help enable partners to develop expertise for developing and improving national-level exercise programs. Improving the use of the GIIP will play a key role in promoting continued collaboration and information sharing between events.
The Co-Chairs look forward to working further with the IAG Coordinator and all GICNT partners to develop future activities focusing on tangible outcomes for the next Plenary Meeting in 2017.
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