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IAEA Action Plan to Combat Nuclear Terrorism

L. Wedekind, Chief Editor, IAEA Division of Public Information

At its meetings in March 2002, the IAEA Board of Governors approved in principal an action plan designed to upgrade worldwide protection against acts of terrorism involving nuclear and other radioactive materials. In approving the plan, the Board has recognized that the first line of defense against nuclear terrorism is the strong physical protection of nuclear facilities and materials.

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"National measures for protecting nuclear material and facilities are uneven in their substance and application," the IAEA said. "There is wide recognition that the international physical protection regime needs to be strengthened."

A number of States, including Australia ($100,000), Great Britain ($350,000), Japan ($500,000), the Netherlands (EUR 250,000), Slovenia (EUR 14,000), USA ($1 Million) pledged specific sums of money to a special fund set up to support the plan. A number of other Member States announced in-kind support to the plan, including Finland, France, Germany, India, Romania, and Turkey. Other countries expressed hope to finance or provide support to the plan in the near future. Also, in November 2001, the United States and the Nuclear Threat Initiative each pledged $1.2 million for the fund. The Agency has calculated its annual funding needs at $12 million for its programmes and an additional $20 million per year to enable the Agency to respond to urgent situations that require immediate security upgrades. The Board of Governors called upon IAEA Member States to contribute to the fund as a matter of urgency.

"This modest investment in nuclear security will bring benefits for all States. "Mr. ElBaradei said. "All of us are vulnerable because all of us use nuclear materials and radioactive materials can easily move across borders."