Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism

Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation
March 29, 2018


We are committed to strengthening global capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to nuclear terrorism.


Who We Are
What We Do
Statement of Principles
Milestones in Our History
Implementation and Assessment Group
Nuclear Detection Working Group
Nuclear Forensics Working Group
Response and Mitigation Working Group
Role in Promoting Exercises
Partner Nation Contributions
Global Initiative Information Portal

Who We Are

The Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) is a voluntary partnership of 88 nations and five international organization that are committed to strengthening global capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to nuclear terrorism. All partner nations have voluntarily committed to implementing the GICNT Statement of Principles, a set of broad nuclear security goals encompassing a range of related objectives.

Mission: To strengthen global capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to nuclear terrorism by conducting multilateral activities that strengthen the plans, policies, procedures, and interoperability of partner nations.

Origin: Established in 2006. Co-Chaired by the Russian Federation and the United States.


Co-Chair Roles

 Coordinates, develops, and co-chairs Plenary Meetings; oversees activities of the Implementation and Assessment Group; leads outreach efforts to States that have not yet endorsed the GICNT Principles; and encourages all partners to actively participate. Co-Chairs serve a renewable term of four (4) consecutive years.

Implementation and Assessment Group (IAG) Coordinator Roles

Manages, administers, and directs working group activities in support of priority functions identified by the Plenary; chairs the IAG Meeting and the Mid-Year Review IAG Meeting; and advises the Co-Chairs of working group activity status, including coordination with other related international fora and organizations. IAG Coordinators serve for a renewable term of two (2) consecutive years.

Working Group Roles

Addresses priority areas identified as challenges during Plenary meetings and coordinates with the Implementation and Assessment Group; develops Work Plans; implements activities in support of new and ongoing priority areas within the GICNT Plan of Work. Current working groups address Nuclear Detection, Nuclear Forensics, Response and Mitigation. Chairs of each GICNT Working Group serve at the request of the IAG Coordinator.

What We Do


Integrate collective capabilities and resources to strengthen the overall global architecture to combat nuclear terrorism.


Convene experience and expertise from the nonproliferation, counter-proliferation, and counterterrorism disciplines.


Provide the opportunity for nations to share information and expertise in a voluntary, nonbinding framework.

Taking Action: We aim to achieve these objectives and address specific nuclear security topics through practical engagements and capacity building activities, including:

• Seminars
• Scenario-based dialogues
• Workshops
• Tabletop and field exercises
• Technical experts meetings
• Regional and multilateral exercises

Stakeholders: Event participants engage in cross-disciplinary dialogues that often include technical and scientific communities, national laboratories, customs, border security, law enforcement, emergency management and first responders, as well as security policy officials, public health officials, and regulatory agencies. Representatives integrate collective knowledge, experience, and resources to strengthen the overall global security architecture.

Statement of Principles

Partner nations participating in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism are committed to the following Statement of Principles to develop partnership capacity to combat nuclear terrorism on a determined and systematic basis, consistent with national legal authorities and obligations they have under relevant international legal frameworks, notably the Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and its 2005 Amendment, United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1373 and 1540. They call on all states concerned with this threat to international peace and security, to make a commitment to implement on a voluntary basis the following principles:

1. Develop, if necessary, and improve accounting, control and physical protection systems for nuclear and other radioactive materials and substances;

2. Enhance security of civilian nuclear facilities;

3. Improve the ability to detect nuclear and other radioactive materials and substances in order to prevent illicit trafficking in such materials and substances, to include cooperation in the research and development of national detection capabilities that would be interoperable;

4. Improve capabilities of participants to search for, confiscate, and establish safe control over unlawfully held nuclear or other radioactive materials and substances or devices using them;

5. Prevent the provision of safe haven to terrorists and financial or economic resources to terrorists seeking to acquire or use nuclear and other radioactive materials and substances;

6. Ensure adequate respective national legal and regulatory frameworks sufficient to provide for the implementation of appropriate criminal and, if applicable, civil liability for terrorists and those who facilitate acts of nuclear terrorism;

7. Improve capabilities of participants for response, mitigation, and investigation, in cases of terrorist attacks involving the use of nuclear and other radioactive materials and substances, including the development of technical means to identify nuclear and other radioactive materials and substances that are, or may be, involved in the incident; and

8. Promote information sharing pertaining to the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism and their facilitation, taking appropriate measures consistent with their national law and international obligations to protect the confidentiality of any information which they exchange in confidence.

Milestones in Our History

• On July 15, 2006, the Russian Federation and the United States launched the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and called upon like-minded nations to join.

• The GICNT’s first meeting was held in Rabat, Morocco, in October 2006, where participants established the Statement of Principles — a set of eight core nuclear security principles that cover the full spectrum of nuclear terrorism deterrence, prevention, detection, and response objectives. Interested countries and official observers may join the GICNT by endorsing the Statement of Principles.

• As the GICNT evolved as an institution, partner nations determined a need to restructure in 2010 and established the Implementation and Assessment Group (IAG) to help improve prioritization of work, strengthen coordination of activities, and ensure that GICNT activities are complementary and mutually reinforcing of the work of other international organizations with nuclear security mandates. The IAG oversees the work of the three GICNT Working Groups: the Nuclear Detection Working Group, the Nuclear Forensics Working Group, and the Response and Mitigation Working Group.

• At the 2013 Plenary Meeting in Mexico City, GICNT partners called for an increased focus on hosting practical activities such as workshops, experts meetings, and tabletop and field exercises that explore the existing body of knowledge and experiences of partner nations to further implement guidance and to identify best practices and models for overcoming technical and resource challenges. Partners also called for the GICNT to explore the interfaces between Working Groups to promote cross-disciplinary exchanges and dialogue among the different groups of experts that would need to work together in a nuclear security crisis situation. Through participation in these practical multilateral exercises and activities, partner nations have seen real value in developing multilateral engagements and exchanging best practices to enhance their own national capabilities.

• At the 2015 Plenary Meeting, held in Helsinki, partners reaffirmed their interest in continuing the GICNT’s emphasis on practical activities to promote capacity-building across technical focus areas. Partners also highlighted the importance of working together in developing and improving national-level exercise programs and continuing to focus on cross-disciplinary themes, such as interagency coordination. Partners further suggested an interest in promoting regional approaches to nuclear security, while still identifying common best practices applicable to the broader partnership, and facilitating the exchange of best practices on legal frameworks to support nuclear security. A Special Adviser role was also established to provide guidance and support to the IAG Coordinator.

• After a decade of successful work, partner nations gathered in The Hague for the GICNT’s 10th Anniversary Meeting in June 2016, to reflect upon their many accomplishments and identify emerging nuclear security challenges that the GICNT is uniquely positioned to address over the next decade to strengthen national capabilities, promote models for bilateral and regional cooperation among partners, and sustain nuclear security capabilities through exercises, international cooperation, and other efforts.

• During the 2017 Plenary Meeting in Tokyo, partners will reflect on the implementation of GICNT activities since the 2015 Plenary Meeting and the Chairman’s Summary report from the 10th Anniversary Meeting. They will also agree to overall and Working Group priorities for 2017-2019.

Implementation and Assessment Group

The Implementation and Assessment Group (IAG) is charged with implementing functional areas that have been identified by the Plenary Meetings as priorities and overseeing the efforts of the GICNT’s Working Groups to organize activities that address those priority functional areas. Under the leadership of the IAG Coordinator – a position held first by Spain, then by the Republic of Korea, and most recently by the Netherlands – the IAG has continued to advance the GICNT’s mission and serve as an important forum for promoting dialogue between policy, operational, and technical experts. A Special Adviser also provides guidance and support to the IAG Coordinator.

The IAG is currently focused on developing and executing a flexible work program that produces practical results for the GICNT through three working groups: Nuclear Detection, Nuclear Forensics, and Response and Mitigation. The three Working Groups have contributed to global nuclear security through the creation and support of global communities of experts that meet to enhance international awareness of nuclear security technical developments; discuss nuclear security challenges and share best practices; and identify tools and resources, as well as national strategies, to address important issues. The community of technical, operational, and policy experts supported by each of the GICNT Working Groups has worked together to identify best practices, uplift existing resources, and develop new tools for partner countries to strengthen their national frameworks and adopt sustainable approaches to nuclear security. The GICNT also addresses important cross-disciplinary challenges by engaging a diverse community of experts in working group activities and dedicated cross-disciplinary initiatives, such as the law enforcement dialogue series and legal frameworks workshops.

The IAG has played a critical role in promoting cross-disciplinary activities, such as:

• In May 2016, Australia hosted the “Kangaroo Harbour” workshop and exercise, to promote best practices in international information-sharing, including issuing and responding to international notifications and assistance requests, during an escalating nuclear security crisis situation;

• In October 2016, Romania hosted “Exercise Olympus” to identify common challenges and best practices related to interagency coordination and communication in support of technical reachback during a terrorist attempt to acquire and use radioactive material; and

• In January 2017, Slovakia hosted the “Vigilant Marmot” Legal Frameworks Workshop. Developed in partnership with Canada and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the workshop addressed challenges in adopting or updating national legal frameworks for nuclear security and considered practical models for implementing obligations under international legal instruments against radiological-nuclear terrorism.

Nuclear Detection Working Group

Focused on: The development of an effective and sustainable national nuclear detection architecture is a critical part of a nation’s efforts to deter, detect, and interdict nuclear and radioactive material that is out of regulatory control and, ultimately, to prevent acts of terrorism.

In support of this objective, the Nuclear Detection Working Group (NDWG) currently addresses:

• Building, implementing, and enhancing national detection capabilities;

• Promoting the transfer of knowledge and experience between detection experts and other key stakeholders;

• Raising awareness and providing practical tools for addressing detection challenges and identifying mitigation strategies; and

• Holding activities that promote partners’ practical implementation of nuclear detection best practices.

Recent Activity: The NDWG’s work includes: technical and policy experts meetings and regional and multilateral exercises, which raises awareness of common detection challenges; identifies practical implementation strategies for best practices in detection; enhances regional cooperation; promotes a coordinated government approach to detect illicit trafficking; and examines procedures and mechanisms to develop sustainable plans and capabilities, such as national-level exercise programs.

The NDWG completed the Developing a Nuclear Detection Architecture Series, which is a four volume series that highlights a risk-informed, and defense-in-depth architecture to address the multiple layers through which an adversary may transport radioactive or nuclear material out of regulatory control from a point of origin to a target. The series includes:

• Volume 1: Model Guidelines Document for Nuclear Detection Architectures

• Volume 2: Guidelines for Awareness, Training and Exercises

• Volume 3: Guidelines for Planning and Organization

• Volume 4: Guidelines for Detection Within a State’s Interior

In 2015, the NDWG published the Detection Exercise Playbook to assist partners in developing and implementing practical nuclear detection activities, which draws upon key guidance and best practices outlined in the Developing a Nuclear Detection Architecture Series.

Nuclear Forensics Working Group

Focused on: Improving global capacity in the field of nuclear forensic science enhances a State’s ability to assess and establish linkages between nuclear and radioactive material, and those who have attempted to transport, possess, or use it without legitimate State control.

In support of this objective, the Nuclear Forensics Working Group (NFWG) currently addresses:

• Raising awareness of nuclear forensics among policymakers;

• Developing guidance and conducing supporting activities;

• Assisting partners to develop and sustain nuclear forensic capabilities;

• Fostering intra– and inter-governmental relationships; and

• Promoting exchange of best practices in nuclear forensics.

Recent Activity: The NFWG has developed two best practices guidance documents for partner nation use:

The Exchanging Nuclear Forensics Information: Benefits, Challenges, and Resources best practices guide, which provides an overview of how the exchange of nuclear forensics information within and between States may support investigations and strengthen global nuclear security. This document suggests mechanisms that may facilitate the exchange of sensitive information, as well as associated challenges and restrictions.

The Nuclear Forensics Fundamentals for Policy Makers and Decision Makers best practices guide, which raises awareness of the importance of nuclear forensics to enhancing nuclear material security and discouraging illicit uses of nuclear and other radioactive material.

The NFWG’s work includes: use of the Global Initiative Information Portal (GIIP) to uplift nuclear forensics capabilities self-assessment tools to help partner nations identify existing national nuclear forensics resources and gaps; exercises to help validate existing mechanisms and procedures to obtain and provide international nuclear forensics assistance; and promotion of nuclear forensics elements to be included in nation response plans.

Response and Mitigation Working Group

Focused on: The ability to respond in an efficient, coordinated, and timely manner to terrorist incidents involving nuclear or other radioactive materials under a coordinated national response framework, including efficient coordination between emergency responders and law enforcement personnel.

In support of this objective, the Response and Mitigation Working Group (NFWG) currently addresses:

• Examining best practices and techniques related to terrorist threats or incidents involving radiological/nuclear material;

• Coordinating activities to promote information exchange among interdisciplinary groups of experts;

• Identifying best practices and producing appropriate response recommendations for inclusion in local, national, and regional response plans; and

• Raising awareness about the unique response challenges posed by terrorist events involving radiological/nuclear material.

Recent Activity: The RMWG’s work includes: promoting preparedness measures to improve interagency coordination and collaboration in support of response operations; sharing of different models to identify best practices to develop and sustain national response frameworks; developing mechanisms for international communications and requests for assistance during response operations; sharing approaches to developing and sustaining medical response capabilities for nuclear security scenarios; and promoting sustainable national-level exercise capability to enhance national and international coordination.

One of the most important recent outcomes of the RMWG is that partners have collaboratively developed the Fundamentals for Establishing and Maintaining a Nuclear Security Response Framework, a collection of key considerations that may inform a country when designing or enhancing its national nuclear/radiological response system for security incidents. This Fundamentals Document is a living document, meant to be routinely updated and improved through follow-on practical activities, input from partner nations, and the addition of case studies to illustrate key concepts.

Role in Promoting Exercises

Exercises reinforce important skills related to nuclear security, promote awareness of nuclear security risks, as well as underscore the need for persistent vigilance. The GICNT has developed numerous activities and products to promote exercises as a tool for sustaining and improving nuclear security capabilities, including by organizing multilateral discussion-based and field exercises. The GICNT’s 2013 Plenary Meeting called for an increased GICNT focus on exercises and other practical activities to promote the implementation of existing guidance and best practices, and the 2015 Plenary Meeting identified promoting key fundamentals of exercise design, implementation, and self- assessment as a priority area of focus. In particular, the GICNT has supported the development of:

• Multilateral exercises that raise awareness of nuclear security challenges, bring together policy, technical, and operational experts from different fields and countries, and promote capacity building across core GICNT focus areas;

• Bilateral and regional exercises, where countries organize national-level teams to enhance interagency coordination in responding to nuclear security events, while also strengthening bilateral and regional cooperation with other partners;

• Products and activities that demonstrate the importance of national nuclear security exercise programs and key resource considerations and models for developing, implementing, and sustaining such programs; and

• The GICNT’s Exercise Playbook, which currently contains 15 realistic scenarios illustrating challenges related to detection of material out of regulatory control at the exterior, border, and interior layers of a State’s national nuclear detection architecture. The tabletop exercises in the Playbook are designed to provide architecture-implementing organizations with an interactive training supplement, challenging participants to apply their knowledge and experience to solving detection problems that might emerge in the real world. The GICNT’s Nuclear Forensics and Response and Mitigation Working Groups are also developing their own chapters for the “Exercise Playbook” to promote implementation of core nuclear forensics and response capabilities, drawing from existing resources, expertise, and best practices in these areas.

Partner Nation Contributions

Since it was launched by the Russian Federation and the United States in July 2006, the GICNT has grown significantly. Its unique structure and flexibility has played an important role in its ability to organize more than 90 activities over the past decade that have raised awareness of the threat posed by nuclear and radiological terrorism, strengthened national policies and technical capacity in nuclear security, and provided opportunities for countries to share information, expertise, and best practices in a voluntary, nonbinding framework, to address common challenges. The GICNT coordinates regularly with its official observers, the International Atomic Energy Agency, INTERPOL, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, European Union, and the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Institute, to help ensure that GICNT activities complement and support their programs of work and promote the use of existing guidance and resources that are available.

As a voluntary partnership, the GICNT’s success will continue to be dependent upon the contributions of its partner nations and off icial observers in hosting, supporting the development of, and participating in GICNT activities. Partner nations can advance the GICNT’s mission and strengthen global nuclear security in many important ways, including, but not limited to:

• Hosting or supporting the planning, execution, and review of future GICNT experts meetings, workshops, tabletop or field exercises, or higher-level policy meetings;

• Organizing a national-level workshop or exercise by using GICNT documents and exercise materials and agreeing to share lessons learned and best practices with other partner nations;

• Contributing to GICNT tools and products that are currently under development, such as the “Exercise Playbook;”

• Implementing best practices identified in the GICNT’s seven guidance documents and sharing experience with other partner nations through case studies or presentations at future events; and

• Developing plans for bilateral or regional exercises, technical meetings, workshops, or other activities that would promote regional approaches to nuclear security and opportunities to identify common best practices that could be shared with the full GICNT partnership.

Global Initiative Information Portal

The Global Initiative Information Portal (GIIP) offers a secure, unclassified web portal that supports information sharing among partners. It includes information about past and future events, including exercise outcomes, reference materials, and best practices developed by GICNT that serve to build and enhance key nuclear security capabilities.

The GIIP is accessible to all GICNT partner nations and observers for the purpose of providing a medium for information exchange pertinent to combating nuclear terrorism. It directly supports the implementation of GICNT Principle Eight by promoting information sharing and collaboration through an unclassified, secure and password protected information portal. Each partner nation has a folder and page in which they may share documents with the rest of the GICNT community (over 2000 users worldwide).

Log In to Access:

• Meeting Documents

• Exercise Playbook

• Virtual Resource Library

• Directory of Experts

• Event Registration

Register for an account: Each partner nation and international organization participating in the GICNT has a Partner Nation Liaison (PNL) responsible for approving requests to gain access to the GIIP. To request an account, please visit:

88 Partner Nations and 5 International Organization Official Observers


Bosnia and Herzegovina
Cabo Verde
Cote d’Ivoire
Czech Republic
Republic of Korea
Kyrgyz Republic
Republic of Macedonia
New Zealand
Saudi Arabia
Sri Lanka
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
United States
European Union
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Institute (UNICRI)
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

Preventing nuclear and radiological terrorism remains a defining challenge for the 21st century, and it has become increasingly imperative for countries to work together to address this threat.

Thank you to all partners for their enduring support for the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.

For more information please contact: GlobalInitiative@State.Gov
Follow the conversation at #GICNT to learn more!