Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation
June 2, 2017
Partner nations and official observers of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) gathered in Tokyo, Japan, June 1-2, 2017, for the GICNT’s 10th senior-level Plenary Meeting.
The GICNT welcomed Paraguay and Nigeria as new partners. The GICNT has now grown into a partnership of 88 nations and 5 official observers, and commemorated its 10th anniversary last year, demonstrating its durability as an institution committed to strengthening global capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to nuclear terrorism. This Plenary Meeting further highlighted the progress that GICNT and its partner nations have made in upholding and furthering its principles. It also provided a valuable forum for dialogue on important policy challenges identified through the successful implementation of GICNT activities since its last Plenary Meeting in 2015 in Helsinki, Finland.
Ambassador Kazutoshi Aikawa, Director-General, Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Science Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan chaired the Plenary Meeting. Mr. Kentaro Sonoura, State Minister for Foreign Affairs, gave the keynote address on behalf of Japan, highlighting Japan’s national framework for nuclear security and counter terrorism and its active participation in international activities to strengthen nuclear security capabilities worldwide.
The two GICNT Co-Chairs, the Russian Federation and United States, gave opening remarks that included messages from their Presidents thanking all GICNT partner nations and official observers for their continued commitment to advancing the GICNT’s mission. The Co-Chairs recognized the Kingdom of the Netherlands for its leadership as Implementation and Assessment Group (IAG) Coordinator for the past two years. In this capacity, the Netherlands played a critical role in implementing the GICNT strategy announced at the Helsinki Plenary. It also hosted the 10th Anniversary High Level Meeting in June 2016 in The Hague to both commemorate the valuable past work of the Initiative and reassess its future priorities. The Co-Chairs also thanked the Government of Japan for hosting the 2017 Plenary Meeting.
Strengthening National Political Commitments to Combatting Nuclear Terrorism
Partners gave national statements highlighting their contributions to strengthening nuclear security and shared national priorities and recommendations for the GICNT’s 2017-2019 program of work. These and prior recommendations made by partner nations played an important role in informing plans for the GICNT’s new two year program of work. Several partner nations made voluntary commitments to organize or host future GICNT events, while others committed to national actions that further promote national or international capacity-building in areas related to the GICNT Statement of Principles. National statements will be made available on the Global Initiative Information Portal (GIIP) and/or the GICNT.org public website.
Plenary Reviews Outcomes of 2015-2017 Activities
The Plenary recognized the leadership of countries that hosted and organized GICNT activities over the past two years and reviewed key outcomes:
- Australia and the United States organized a Nuclear Forensics Working Group (NFWG) experts meeting on October 21-23, 2015, at the Savannah River Research Campus in Aiken, South Carolina, to share experiences on developing and implementing national nuclear forensic programs.
- The United Kingdom hosted the workshop and tabletop exercise (TTX), “Blue Raven,” on November 11-12, 2015, in London to showcase models for resource distribution and decision making among national authorities in response to a nuclear security event. The United Kingdom also hosted a subsequent Response and Mitigation Working Group (RMWG) Experts Meeting to further RMWG work priorities.
- Finland hosted a Nuclear Detection Working Group (NDWG) experts meeting on January 13-14, 2016, in Helsinki to share experiences and perspectives in the development and implementation of nuclear detection architectures and the potential uses for new technologies.
- The United Arab Emirates, European Commission, and United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute organized the “Falcon” workshop and TTX on February 23-25, 2016, in Abu Dhabi to promote regional approaches to nuclear detection and response. Morocco hosted two meetings to support this initiative.
- Australia and New Zealand organized the “Kangaroo Harbour” workshop and TTX on May 16-18, 2016, in Sydney to showcase mechanisms for international notification, assistance, and coordination during a nuclear security event. Australia also hosted a subsequent IAG Meeting on May 19, chaired by the IAG Coordinator, Kees Nederlof.
- Together with INTERPOL, Romania hosted the Law Enforcement Dialogue Series Event, “Olympus,” on October 19-21, 2016, in Bucharest to promote models for collaboration and communication between law enforcement and nuclear detection and forensics experts.
- Italy hosted an NFWG Experts Meeting in Rome on November 8-10, 2016, to further develop practical nuclear forensics capacity-building tools and activities.
- Panama hosted the Medical Response Workshop: Nuclear Terrorism, Global Challenge on November 14-16, 2016, in Panama City to facilitate discussion among experts from the medical, emergency management, and nuclear security communities on the development, sustainment, and deployment of capabilities for medical responses to radiological terrorism.
- Together with Canada and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Slovak Republic hosted the “Vigilant Marmot” workshop on January 24-26, 2017, in Bratislava to address challenges in adopting and updating national nuclear security legal frameworks.
- The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre hosted the “Magic Maggiore” workshop on March 28-30, 2017, in Ispra, Italy, to raise awareness and build commitment for technical reachback in national nuclear detection architectures.
- Together with the United Kingdom, Bulgaria hosted the “Sentinel” workshop on May 17-19, 2017, to promote the importance of national-level nuclear security exercise programs for sustaining nuclear security capabilities.
10th Anniversary Meeting, The Hague, the Netherlands
Partner nations and official observers gathered in The Hague on June 15-16, 2016, to reaffirm their commitment to the GICNT’s Statement of Principles and its founding mission. Participants at the 10th Anniversary Meeting also recognized the GICNT’s unique role in strengthening the global nuclear security architecture by encouraging practical engagements and capacity- building activities that help facilitate dialogue between technical and operational experts, practitioners, policymakers, and decision-makers. The IAG Coordinator chaired the 10th Anniversary High Level Meeting. In his report to this Plenary Meeting, he highlighted the recommendation that future GICNT work should draw attention to implementation of comprehensive national legal frameworks, radioactive source security, and nuclear security program sustainability as important challenges that partner nations are facing. He further noted support for the GICNT’s continuing role in promoting models for bilateral and regional cooperation among partners and helping to strengthen national nuclear security capabilities through multilateral tabletop exercises, international workshops, and other practical activities to promote cross-disciplinary dialogue and cooperation.
Mid-Year IAG Meeting, New Delhi, India
The IAG Coordinator thanked India for hosting the February 2017 Mid-Year IAG Meeting, which reviewed GICNT progress, solicited input from partner nations on plans and priorities for 2017-2019, and identified gaps and challenges in need of sustained GICNT focus. Presentations given at concurrent meetings of the three Working Groups highlighted important policy issues and promoted discussion on future work. The IAG Meeting also included three cross-disciplinary seminars on legal frameworks, radioactive source security, and sustainability to advance the 10th Anniversary Meeting’s recommendations.
Legal Frameworks, Radioactive Source Security, and Sustainability
The IAG Coordinator thanked Argentina, Canada, and the United Kingdom for their contributions to the three cross-disciplinary panel discussions at the Mid-Year IAG Meeting. He invited those nations to present outcomes and share recommendations for future work.
- Argentina noted the expanding use of radioactive sources in medicine, research, and industry and the need for increased international engagement that focuses on radioactive source security during each stage of the source’s lifecycle. Securing radioactive sources and responding to known or suspected thefts requires cooperation among a diverse group of stakeholders. The GICNT could bring together these groups to strengthen coordination, exchange best practices, and promote the importance of radiological source security as part of a comprehensive nuclear security regime.
- Canada stressed that national legal frameworks form the foundation for effective and sustainable approaches to nuclear security. The GICNT’s “Vigilant Marmot” and “Glowing Tulip” (March 2015 in the Netherlands) workshops played important roles in facilitating cross-disciplinary dialogue among legal practitioners, law enforcement, policymakers, and technical experts on implementation of international legal instruments and related criminalization penalties that help countries deter, prosecute, and adjudicate illicit acts involving nuclear and other radioactive materials. The GICNT could build upon these outcomes and develop more practical workshops and exercises to support partner nations’ efforts to adopt, modify, and strengthen national nuclear security legal frameworks and address implementation challenges.
- The United Kingdom underscored the need to build sustainability into national nuclear security frameworks and highlighted the value of the GICNT’s “Sentinel” workshop in promoting sustainability through national nuclear security exercise programs. Other GICNT activities that have facilitated cross-disciplinary dialogue on integrating scientific and technical expert advice into national frameworks have also highlighted important sustainability challenges including, for example, maintaining technical capabilities and knowledge management. The GICNT could continue work in these areas, provide models for countries to address these and other national sustainability challenges, and help build political will to address these challenges.
Each presenter made specific recommendations for future GICNT work and noted that they had co-drafted non-papers to inform discussions on potential future activities. These non-papers describe ongoing efforts of the GICNT’s official observer organizations, underscore the need for close collaboration to ensure efforts remain complementary, and reinforce the importance of other national and multilateral work in this field.
Working Group Plans and Priorities
Partner nations at the Plenary recognized the valuable contributions of the GICNT Working Groups and commended the Working Group Chairs for promoting collaboration within these important fields, and between their experts. By participating in Working Group activities, technical and policy experts from different levels of government continue to meet and work together with their counterparts from around the world to discuss shared challenges in the fields of nuclear detection, nuclear forensics, and response and mitigation. Finland, Australia, and Morocco, as Chairs of the Nuclear Detection, Nuclear Forensics, and Response and Mitigation Working Groups, respectively, presented their proposed work plans for 2017-2019, emphasizing how they build strategically upon work plans discussed and endorsed at the 2015 Plenary Meeting and how they address challenges identified during GICNT events held over the past two years.
- The NDWG will continue to organize workshops and exercises that address relevant authorities, regulations, plans, and processes that enable countries to detect and secure nuclear and other radioactive material out of regulatory control (MORC); address challenges and mitigating strategies for scaling and sustaining nuclear detection architectures; and improve partners’ capacity to implement a coordinated government approach to detecting and investigating illicit trafficking of MORC.
- The NFWG will further develop and pilot the nuclear forensics self-assessment tool to help countries evaluate their nuclear forensics capabilities; organize regional exercises on nuclear forensics fundamentals for policymakers to promote implementation of GICNT guidance and build on the outcomes from previous nuclear forensics activities; and support multilateral exercises that address challenges in exchanging nuclear forensics information to support national-level investigations and prosecutions.
- The RMWG will continue activities identified in its National Frameworks Series to promote comprehensive national approaches to responding to nuclear security events; engage partner nations in testing national capabilities through Radiological Emergency Management Exercises (REMEX); support activities focusing on radiological source security, recovery and consequence management, and requesting and receiving international assistance; and support incorporating public messaging themes across a variety of GICNT work.
All three Working Group Chairs expressed support for promoting collaboration between Working Group experts; to include supporting REMEX-style exercises that can help partner nations strengthen national-level coordination and mechanisms for bilateral, regional, and international cooperation. In addition, the Chairs suggested coordination between the Working Groups to further develop the GICNT’s “Exercise Playbook” and promote it as a tool for countries to organize national-level, scenario-based discussions and exercises.
Discussion on GICNT Event Outcomes and Products
The United Kingdom and Finland encouraged partners to host and organize future activities under the auspices of GICNT and described the process for proposing new GICNT activities. Both indicated that each GICNT activity should produce a product with tangible outcomes that could be used to inform relevant national-level stakeholders of lessons learned. They described “take-home” exercises, or abridged versions of larger multilateral activities that the GICNT Working Groups developed, which are available on the GIIP. Both reported on the outcomes of the regionally-focused “Olympus” and “Falcon” exercises, and highlighted the development of a “take-home exercise” based on these exercises to ensure that the GICNT work benefits the global partnership. Romania and Hungary then shared national experiences in hosting and participating in GICNT workshops and exercises. Both countries highlighted how they shared key outcomes among relevant national stakeholders and leveraged lessons learned to make improvements to national-level capabilities and protocols for bilateral and multilateral cooperation.
Outgoing IAG Coordinator’s Message to the Plenary
The Netherlands IAG Coordinator, Ambassador Kees Nederlof, emphasized the continued value of the GICNT in promoting practical implementation of nuclear security guidance and best practices and providing a forum for strengthening political commitments to combat nuclear terrorism. He recommended that the GICNT adopt thematic focuses on radioactive source security, sustainability, and legal frameworks and more fully integrate these priorities into future GICNT activities. The IAG Coordinator also recommended maintaining the GICNT’s current structure and supporting implementation of the Working Group Work Plans for 2017-2019 to draw from the GICNT’s existing body of expertise. In addition, he noted the challenges of communicating information to senior leaders during a nuclear security situation and suggested future GICNT activities address these challenges to help partner nations prepare effectively to support the decision-making processes.
The Co-Chairs thanked the Netherlands for its leadership in advancing the GICNT’s efforts over the past two years, including hosting the highly successful 10th Anniversary Meeting. The Co-Chairs also expressed deep appreciation to the outgoing Nuclear Detection, Nuclear Forensics, and Response and Mitigation Working Group Chairs from Finland, Australia, and Morocco, for their contributions to the GICNT.
Endorsement of New IAG Coordinators
The Co-Chairs introduced the Republic of Finland as the candidate for the next two-year IAG Coordinator term. The Co-Chairs highlighted Finland’s contributions to the GICNT by hosting the 2015 Plenary Meeting, Chairing the NDWG from 2015-2017, and hosting the “Northern Lights” exercise in 2015 and the NDWG experts meeting in 2016.
The Co-Chairs introduced the Kingdom of Morocco as the candidate for IAG Coordinator for 2019-2021, noting that endorsement of Morocco’s candidacy will help ensure long-term stability in the GICNT leadership team and better position the GICNT for strategic planning and coordination with other organizations. The Co-Chairs highlighted Morocco’s contributions to the GICNT as one of the original founding partners and host of the first GICNT Plenary, Chair of the RMWG since 2011, and host of several other prominent GICNT activities.
The Plenary endorsed Finland as IAG Coordinator for the term 2017-2019 and Morocco for the term 2019-2021 by consensus.
Announcement on 2019 Plenary Meeting
The Argentine Republic announced it would host the GICNT’s next Plenary Meeting in 2019. Argentina also committed to lead outreach to countries that have not yet joined the GICNT – particularly in Latin America and Africa – by sharing their experience on the benefits of joining. The Co-Chairs thanked Argentina for its contributions to the GICNT and its leadership in agreeing to host the 2019 Plenary. Reflecting on the recommendations made during the 10th Anniversary High Level Meeting with respect to broadening engagement, they also noted that outreach by the Plenary Host to countries that are not yet partners would be valuable in promoting the GICNT mission.
Partner Nations Look Forward to 2017-2019 IAG Term
Finland, in its capacity as the newly-endorsed IAG Coordinator, announced the appointment of Argentina as the new RMWG Chair and the United Kingdom as the new NDWG Chair. The IAG Coordinator, in consultation with the Co-Chairs, will appoint a new Chair for the NFWG as soon as possible. Morocco and the Netherlands will support implementation of the GICNT’s 2017-2019 program of work as Special Advisors to the IAG Coordinator.
Building on the proposals made by the former IAG Coordinator and partners’ feedback during the Plenary, the incoming IAG Coordinator, Ambassador Jari Luoto of Finland, presented his vision for a two-year strategy for advancing the GICNT’s mission. The incoming IAG Coordinator recognized the value of continuing the strategic direction of the GICNT and strengthening implementation of proposals made in Helsinki and The Hague. These include holding practical activities that strategically promote capacity building, maintaining support for the three Working Groups as the foundation for the GICNT work, and promoting regional approaches to nuclear security. He also recommended a sustained focus on cross-disciplinary activities and developing a systematic way to improve sharing information and lessons learned and more virtual engagements to promote new opportunities for partner nations to engage through the GIIP. In addition, he expressed support for the recommendation for GICNT to adopt thematic focuses on radioactive source security, sustainability, and legal frameworks and welcomed that the Working Groups built these elements into their Work Plans for 2017-2019. To advance these efforts, Ambassador Luoto agreed to host the next IAG Meeting in Helsinki in June 2018 and invited all participants to attend.
The Co-Chairs expressed their support for the recommendations made by the outgoing and incoming IAG Coordinators and thanked all partner nations for their contributions to discussions during the Plenary. The Co-Chairs also thanked the hosts of all GICNT activities that have informed plans and priorities for 2017-2019. The Co-Chairs committed to helping implement these priorities and underscored their shared view on the importance of the GICNT as a forum for strengthening national political commitments to combatting nuclear terrorism. To this end, the Co-Chairs thank and wish to recognize the countries that have committed to host activities that will support implementation of the GICNT’s program of work over the next two years, including Argentina, Finland, Hungary, Mexico, Romania, Tajikistan, and the United Kingdom. The Co-Chairs also welcome announcements made by China and Morocco that they are positively considering hosting GICNT events in the future, and appreciate the many other partner nations and official observers that committed to attend and contribute to GICNT activities over the next two years.
The Co-Chairs look forward to working further with the IAG Coordinator, the Working Group Chairs, the Special Advisors, and all GICNT partners to support these and other activities that partner nations agree to host and support, focusing on developing tangible outcomes for the next Plenary Meeting in Argentina in 2019.