x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Interpol may train Arabian Gulf countries on countering nuclear terrorism

GCC countries could receive training on countering nuclear terrorism from the world’s largest international police organisation next year.

ABU DHABI // GCC countries could receive training on countering nuclear terrorism from the world’s largest international police organisation next year.

Interpol launched its Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives Terrorism Prevention programme in the Middle East last June to ensure tighter controls of radioactive materials.

Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq were the first countries to receive the training.

“We have concerns of the security of radioactive sources,” said Alan King, the programme’s radiological and nuclear coordinator at Interpol. “If they fall into the hands of criminal activity, criminal or terrorist use is a concern and if you don’t have the top level support, it won’t work.”

If stolen, experts fear radioactive materials could be spread in a malevolent way.

“There’s a real threat to the vulnerability around it,” Mr King said. “Nuclear material is very tightly controlled but radioactive material isn’t and that’s something the International Atomic Energy Agency and Interpol are jointly trying to improve.”

Twelve countries from Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, Brunei and Singapore, will receive the training next month.

“Our big concern is, because it’s vulnerable, we need to raise awareness within the local and senior law enforcement that this vulnerability exists and to understand what they need to do to tighten the security mechanism,” he said. “It makes security much better and it will hopefully prevent the illicit use of these materials by criminals or terrorists.”

Interpol, which includes 190 countries, is targeting four regions next year, one of which could be the Gulf.

“It’s conventional policing, including border security, customs, public health, scientific regulators and government level,” Mr King said. “The programme is interactive to raise awareness and develop capabilities while building their own mutual support cooperation programmes within a region.”

cmalek@thenational.ae