Chairman's Summary: Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) 10th Anniversary Meeting

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Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation
The Hague, Netherlands
June 15, 2016

The Hague, Netherlands
June 15-16 2016

Under the leadership of Russia and the United States, the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) was launched in 2006 and has since grown to include 86 partner nations and five official observer organizations, held over 80 multilateral activities, produced seven important foundational guidelines documents and developed a body of best practices that have all served to uplift national capacities to prevent, detect and respond to nuclear terrorism. On June 15-16, 2016, the GICNT commemorated its tenth anniversary, demonstrating its durability as an institution committed to strengthening global capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to nuclear terrorism. GICNT partners gathered in The Hague to reaffirm their commitment to its Statement of Principles and its founding mission to conduct multilateral activities that improve partner nations’ plans, policies, procedures and the capacities of partner nations to work together to defeat the shared threat of nuclear terrorism.

As the GICNT Implementation and Assessment Group (IAG) Coordinator, Ambassador Kees Nederlof served as Chairman of this 10th Anniversary Meeting and presented this Chairman’s Summary of the important and historic gathering. Mr. Ard van der Steur, Minister of Security and Justice of The Netherlands opened the meeting, and the GICNT Co-Chairs were represented by Ms. Rose Gottemoeller, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and Nonproliferation of the United States Department of State, and Mr. Mikhail Ulyanov, a member of the Collegium, Director of the Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control of the Russian Federation Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The U.S. and Russian Co-Chair representatives read messages of appreciation and support from President Barack Obama and President Vladimir Putin, respectively, to the GICNT partners represented at the 10th Anniversary Meeting.

Sessions 1 and 2: GICNT Retrospective

During the retrospective discussion in Sessions 1 and 2, partners noted that GICNT’s unique structure and flexibility have played an important role in its ability to organize more than 80 multilateral activities in support of its Statement of Principles. GICNT work has raised awareness of the threat of terrorist use of nuclear and radioactive materials, and it has provided opportunities for countries to share information, expertise, and best practices in a voluntary, non-binding framework. As a result, the GICNT has consistently adapted over the past ten years to meet the needs of its partners and address the ever-changing threat of nuclear terrorism. National statements submitted by partner countries are available on the Global Initiative Information Portal (GIIP).

GICNT partners and official observers also agreed that the initiative’s focus on implementation, practical engagements and capacity building activities to address specific nuclear security topics contributes to its success. The GICNT has used tabletop and field exercises, scenario-based dialogues, workshops and other practical activities to help partners gain expertise for developing and improving national-level programs. Partners noted the benefit of multilateral exercises that engage peers in shared challenges and develop best practices that may benefit all partners. Partners further noted that nuclear security exercises such as supported by GICNT play an important role at both the national, bilateral and multilateral levels in promoting capacity-building and sustainability of existing capabilities.

Session 3: GICNT’s Role in the Nuclear Security Architecture

The discussion in Session 3 highlighted the role of the GICNT in the broader Nuclear Security Architecture as an informal and voluntary partnership that is uniquely positioned to support and complement the efforts of other international organizations and institutions with nuclear security mandates.

The IAG Coordinator recommended that legal experts should be more broadly involved in the work of the working groups to assess and strengthen legal frameworks. He further noted radioactive source security as a future priority work area, which was echoed by the partners. GICNT partners noted GICNT activities can promote the development of national mechanisms to promote interagency cooperation and thus ensure policymakers receive essential information to support decision making, for example in prioritizing allocation of resources.

The GICNT Working Group Chairs participated in a panel discussion that noted that a strength of the GICNT has been to facilitate dialogues between experts and promote information exchanges that share lessons learned, best practices and other guidance. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) also participated in the panel discussion, and noted that GICNT activities should be directed such that they complement the work of other organizations in the nuclear security architecture, including the work of the five GICNT official observers: IAEA, UNODC, European Union, INTERPOL, and the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Institute (UNICRI). The Working Group Chairs encouraged GICNT leaders to continue informal but frequent dialogue with other organizations and initiatives relevant to specific GICNT activities, as appropriate. They further noted that the broad scope of the GICNT Statement of Principles provides opportunities for joint activities. Partners expressed strong views that GICNT should continue to work with the GICNT official observers in sharing lessons learned, guidance and resources to promote unity of effort within the nuclear security architecture.

Furthermore, recognizing the central coordination role of the IAEA, partners recommended that the GICNT should continue active participation in IAEA Information Exchange Meetings and promote close coordination with other organizations with nuclear security mandates, incorporating IAEA nuclear security guidance and highlighting applicable training resources and other tools from these organizations within GICNT activities and workshops.

Noting that GICNT activities already involve a wide range of technical, operational and policy experts, partners suggested that more attention should be paid to incorporating the views of the regulatory bodies and relevant scientific and industrial communities (such as the medical community), where appropriate.

Session 4: Emerging Nuclear Security Challenges and Threats

For Session 4, GICNT partners received two briefings on how nuclear security challenges and terrorist threats have changed since the founding of GICNT in 2006, as well as explaining the trends that point to emerging threats. One briefing was provided by Dr. Rob Downes, Centre for Science and Security Studies, King’s College London. In a second briefing, Mr. Alan King of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) provided a law enforcement perspective.

Partners noted that the threat of nuclear terrorism is ever changing and adapting to existing security capabilities. Therefore, it is vital that nations and relevant organizations and initiatives continually assess the threat and adapt activities and capabilities as threats evolve. Partners further emphasized the global nature of the threat. Any incident experienced in one part of the world can affect or may be replicated in another part of the world. Therefore, partners stressed the need for continued dialogue, information exchanges and cooperation through bilateral and multilateral mechanisms, such as the GICNT.

With a focus on terrorism, the GICNT plays an important role in raising awareness of the evolving threat and serves an important function in promoting dialogue between the law enforcement community, technical experts and policy makers. GICNT should continue to plan activities that support joint exploration of important technical and policy challenges and that promote interagency and international coordination and communication as priority areas of work within and amongst its partner countries. Partners noted that participation in GICNT exercises can fulfill an important need for countries to review and assess national capabilities while also providing a forum in which countries can exercise together and establish or strengthen working relationships in advance of a crisis situation. Partners expressed interest in continued GICNT activities highlighting best practices for developing crisis messaging strategies.

Session 5: Building National Capacity and Enhancing National Capabilities through Cooperation

In session 5, Morocco and Spain described their experiences in promoting long-term bilateral cooperation to build and sustain their own national capabilities. Other speakers emphasized the importance of shared threat perception, cultural or geographic connections, and mutual goals to promote collaboration. The partners together underscored that the success of bilateral and international coordination in a crisis situation is advanced through engagement in practice or in non-crisis times. Partners recognized a responsibility to cooperate with each other to strengthen national capacity. Partners further noted that lessons learned in interagency coordination and cooperation through a GICNT exercise can be applied more broadly to other emergency situations, such as response to national disasters. Regional cooperation was highlighted as a way of increasing readiness and awareness and helping to build trust among technical, operation and policy experts so that they are better prepared to coordinate in a crisis situation.

Session 6: Sustaining Existing Capabilities and Expertise

During Session 6, Mr. Vic Evans, UK Border Force, presented the key attributes of a national strategy to sustain capabilities and expertise. Partners agreed that exercises and national level exercise programs serve vital functions in promoting sustainability of nuclear security capabilities. The GICNT supports international efforts to assist in the development of tools to help facilitate national level exercises and has served as a forum for promoting bilateral, regional, and international exercises.

Partners identified new possibilities of working together though virtual GICNT engagements for partners to develop and implement their own domestic nuclear security exercises, conduct self-assessments of national capabilities, and share applicable lessons learned with the broader international community

The Radiological Emergency Management Exercises (REMEX) are a proven model for countries to organize national-level teams to enhance interagency coordination in responding to nuclear security events, while also strengthening bilateral and regional cooperation.

During the discussion in Session 6, partners noted that sustainable nuclear security programs require a national infrastructure that includes sufficient and appropriate legislation and regulations, dedicated budgets, human resources, standard operating procedures, maintenance plans, training and exercises, as well as constantly evaluating the evolving threat environment and acting quickly to address new threats and vulnerabilities. Sustainment should be approached as a process that should be integrated into a country’s national framework, and it requires not only support from the technical and operational level but also from senior decision makers that allocate budget and resources. Partners noted that GICNT activities provide a forum for discussing many of these issues and exchanging information on national level approaches that incorporate myriad stakeholders, and encouraged GICNT to consider activities that support a holistic approach.

Partners noted that national legal frameworks form the foundation for national priorities and capacity building for nuclear security and are important to sustainability of national frameworks. The GICNT can further support activities, in partnership with the IAEA, UNODC and others, that highlight the critical importance of the legal framework in support of nuclear security.

Partners noted that training and sustaining a human workforce adequate to implement and support a national nuclear security framework is a key challenge. Partners suggested that GICNT activities can be an important forum for introducing the next generation of nuclear security specialists to others in their field and further developing their expertise and their understanding of related fields.


In conclusion, partners emphasized that the success of the GICNT has been dependent upon the contributions of its partner nations in hosting, supporting the development of, and participating in GICNT activities. GICNT activities offer a unique forum for dialogue between technical experts, operational experts, practitioners, policymakers and decision-makers to develop ideas and identify models and practices that enhance nuclear security. It is in this regard that the GICNT plays a vital role in the nuclear security architecture. Partners welcomed the offer of Japan to host the tenth plenary meeting in Tokyo on 1 and 2 June 2017.

The IAG Coordinator noted that the points raised during the 10th Anniversary Meeting would be carried forward into the 2017 plenary based on support and active contributions by the partners.