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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Smuggling Response Team


The WMDT Smuggling Response Team (SRT) (1) coordinates U.S. government cooperation with foreign partners to respond to nuclear trafficking incidents overseas; (2) helps develop U.S. policy to counter trafficking of nuclear and radioactive materials; (3) assists foreign partners in building capacity to counter illicit trafficking of nuclear or radioactive materials; and (4) conducts diplomacy to promote counter nuclear smuggling tools, e.g. in the area of nuclear forensics.

Policy Priorities to Counter Nuclear Smuggling

SRT provides guidance and support to U.S. government policymakers in the area of counter nuclear smuggling and nuclear forensics, and supports international efforts such as the Nuclear Security Summit and Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. To ensure terrorists never gain access to black market nuclear and radioactive materials, governments must work together to investigate nuclear trafficking activities, remove materials from the black market, and arrest those smuggling or seeking to acquire nuclear material. Recognizing this, 19 countries participating in the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea, signed a Statement to Counter Nuclear Smuggling , and others announced steps to strengthen counter nuclear smuggling (CNS) capacities. In the area of CNS capacity-building, SRT coordinates U.S. government efforts to advance investigative capabilities to counter nuclear smuggling by establishing national  Counter Nuclear Smuggling Teams. In addition, effective and timely information-sharing on illicit nuclear and radioactive material trafficking incidents is a key component of advancing international investigative capabilities. SRT serves as the U.S. Government point of contact to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Illicit Trafficking Database (ITDB) , and routinely reports U.S. government information on nuclear and radioactive materials out of regulatory control to the IAEA. SRT also works actively with the FBI to advance international information-sharing on investigative activities to counter nuclear smuggling through Interpol’s Operation Fail Safe.

Nuclear Trafficking Response Group

In addition to policy development and prioritization, SRT provides real-time coordination for U.S. government responses to nuclear trafficking incidents overseas. SRT serves as the chair of the Nuclear Trafficking Response Group (NTRG), which was established in 1995 to coordinate U.S. government responses to incidents of illicit trafficking in nuclear and radioactive materials overseas, including radiation alarms. The goals of the NTRG are to work with foreign governments to secure smuggled nuclear material -- including facilities where diversions occurred, prosecute those involved, and develop information on smuggling-related threats, e.g. potential links between smugglers and terrorists. The NTRG includes representatives from the nonproliferation, law enforcement, and intelligence communities.

Preventing Nuclear Smuggling Program

SRT leads Department of State programmatic outreach to counter nuclear smuggling through the Preventing Nuclear Smuggling Program (PNSP). PNSP was established in 2007 to help countries counter nuclear smuggling by increasing capabilities in prevention, detection, and response. PNSP supports projects developed by the Nuclear Smuggling Outreach Initiative (NSOI) where no other donor can be found or where there are opportunities to leverage foreign funding. To date, these projects have focused on securing radiological sources, monitoring open borders between fixed crossing points, and identifying legal gaps in national laws for prosecuting smugglers. PNSP also focuses on increasing foreign governments' response capabilities by ensuring the entire spectrum of ministries follow a single set of well exercised national operating procedures. PNSP is also dedicated to promoting nuclear forensics which plays a critical role in promoting nuclear material security and investigating illicit uses of nuclear or radioactive material. PNSP is working to promote international nuclear forensics cooperation through National Nuclear Forensics Libraries and by promulgating nuclear forensic best practices for technical and law enforcement personnel. Additional information about PNSP can be found at http://www.pnsp-state.net/.

Forensics Engagement Working Group

SRT actively works with U.S. government agencies to coordinate international outreach and cooperation in the area of nuclear forensics. SRT chairs the Forensics Engagement Working Group (FEWG), which is an interagency working group that coordinates and facilitates U.S. government outreach, engagement and policy development on nuclear forensics. The FEWG includes participants from the nonproliferation and law enforcement communities.


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