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Western Europe 1540 Reporting

Center for Nonproliferation Studies

Regional Overview

Western Europe, in some cases acting through the European Union, plays an active part in promoting the implementation of UNSCR 1540 and provides assistance in this respect to a variety of countries. All the states in this region are industrialized countries with developed free-market economies, stable democratic regimes, relatively high standards of living and human rights protection, low corruption and fairly efficient state mechanisms. Most of the states in this region (27 out of the 34 states in the region) are members of the European Union (EU) and/or North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) (23 out of 34 states). The seven non-EU countries in this region have many agreements in place with the EU on free trade as well as coordination of customs and border control policies and practices.

After the end of World War II, conflict among nations endemic in Europe for centuries ceased. This achievement was and continues to be the main goal of the European integration process and of the EU. However, the Cold War caused deep divisions manifesting in the "Iron Curtain", which demarcated the political division between the liberal West and the communist East. With the end of the Cold War, the EU and NATO gradually expanded to the borders of Russia, further solidifying cooperation among these nations and the states of Eastern Europe. The former Yugoslavia was the only area that remained outside of the European integration process, and ethnic tensions there erupted into various stages of civil war as the country gradually disintegrated.

This region comprises states with varying degrees of economic and geopolitical strength. France and the United Kingdom are both Permanent Members of the UN Security Council and nuclear weapon states (NWS), while countries such as Germany are further examples of large countries with an influential role in global politics. This region also comprises "middle" powers, small states, and several microstates. Despite their small size, microstates are highly relevant to UNSCR 1540 implementation in that many are banking hubs that "over-protect" their customers and serve as "tax havens," often ideal for money laundering or funding of illicit activities.

The 1540 reports from the countries of the EU and the other Western European states are exceptionally thorough. All the states in the region have submitted 1540 reports, most of them containing substantive information. However, some of the smaller countries -- such as Malta and Monaco -- have submitted less substantive reports. In addition, because the Holy See (the Vatican state) is not a member of the United Nations (it maintains the status of an observer), it was not technically obligated to submit a report and did not do so. (The Holy See, however, as a sovereign state, is a member of the NPT, CWC, and BTWC, and has ratified the CTBT.) The EU, while neither a state entity nor a UN member, voluntarily submitted a report to the 1540 Committee in 2004, and provided information on EU legislation relevant to UNSCR 1540.

The majority of Western European countries are capable of implementing Resolution 1540. Therefore, countries within the region made no requests for assistance. Instead, 27 of the 34 states offered assistance in accordance with Operative Paragraph 7 of the Resolution. Hence, there have been no UN-outreach seminars held in Western European countries.

Reports from this region display a high level of conformity. Many states also refer to relevant legal documents of the European Union. Due to the high level of institutionalization and the competencies possessed by the EU, legislation is often harmonized between member states. Even European states that are not members of the EU align their national legislation in accordance with EU provisions. In some cases, this conformity extends to a global level. An example is the EU dual-use list, which is commonly accepted as an international standard.

NBC Capabilities

There are two NWS in Western Europe: the United Kingdom and France. The United Kingdom tested its first nuclear device in 1952; it is projected by 2020 to reduce the number of its overall stockpile of nuclear warheads from 225 to 180, according to its 2010 Strategic Defense and Security Review. France conducted its first test of a nuclear device in 1960, and its current nuclear arsenal is estimated to comprise 288 SLBMs, as well as 60 medium-range air-to-surface missiles. In March 2008, then French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced his intention to reduce the airborne component (the number of nuclear warheads, missiles and aircraft) by one-third, a position also captured in a 2008 French Defense White Paper that stated, "The number of nuclear-capable land-based aircraft will be reduced from 60 to 40."[1] In September 2009, the P-5 states (China, France, Russia, UK, and U.S.), held a Conference on Confidence-Building Measures Towards Nuclear Disarmament, where France reiterated that its forces are comprised of fewer than 300 warheads.[2]

Aside from the NWS, four other NATO members in the region (Germany, Italy, Belgium, and the Netherlands) have U.S. nuclear weapons stationed on their territories. Security of the storage of these weapons was repeatedly questioned in recent years. In Belgium, during 2010 peace activists managed three times to break into military aircraft shelters housing U.S. nuclear-armed B-61 gravity bombs, or close to the shelters housing the weapons.[3] The break-ins occurred in January, February and most recently in October 2010.

Many Western European states have advanced capabilities in chemical, biological and nuclear technologies as well as in missile and missile component technologies. There are many petrochemical and biotechnology industries and research laboratories across Europe and a significant number of them possess the capability to produce chemical and biological agents of proliferation concern. The few countries with the industrial capacity to produce ballistic or cruise missiles or missile components are the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Sweden, Italy, and Spain. Joint ventures and joint projects between the aero-spatial industries of these countries are very common.[4]

As for nuclear technology, advanced fuel cycle capabilities exist in many countries in this region. Natural uranium reserves are dwindling, and mining in west Europe is decreasing. However, European firms such as France's Areva and the British-German-Dutch consortium URENCO conduct a significant portion of worldwide conversion (approx. 25%) and enrichment (approx. 33.8%). Dependence on energy production from nuclear reactors varies throughout the region. Many countries have no reactors operating within their territory, even though some are shareholders in reactors in other European countries or import electricity produced by nuclear reactors. Other countries have invested more heavily in nuclear energy. Sixteen countries depend on nuclear power for at least a quarter of their electricity production. France gets approximately three-quarters of its electricity from nuclear energy, while Belgium, Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, and Slovenia rely on nuclear energy for more than one-third of their electricity. While Germany and Finland get more than a quarter of their electricity from nuclear energy, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Romania get almost one-fifth. Overall, in addition to 57 research reactors, there are 148 nuclear power reactors operating in this region. Along with Czech Republic, Hungary, and Italy, Belgium declared that it would repatriate all of its HEU by the end of 2013. [5] At the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit, Belgium announced that currently it is converting a research reactor and a processing facility for medical radioisotopes from HEU to LEU use. [6]

Nuclear Security

The EU promotes nuclear security efforts throughout Europe. For example, the European Commission, within the Joint Research Centre, operates the Institute for Transuranium Elements — Nuclear Security Unit. The stated mission of the Unit places emphasis on providing assistance with technical services and training for nuclear safeguards and security. It also helps in conducting proliferation assessments of new reactor systems within Europe.

The IAEA and the EU have been successfully coordinating nuclear security initiatives. In November 2010, the EU provided around 10 million euros to the IAEA's Nuclear Security Fund, a voluntary contribution meant to support the Agency's nuclear security activities.[7] In December 2010, the IAEA assisted in the transfer of more than 8,000 fuel elements (2.5 tons of spent nuclear fuel) from a Serbian research reactor at Vinca to a secure storage site in Russia.[8] In 2012, Belgium, France, South Korea, and the United States announced a joint project on developing high-density LEU fuel that aims to replace HEU fuels in high flux research reactors.[9]

Proliferation and security concerns have compelled several Western European countries to publicly advocate the elimination of HEU from the civilian sphere. The most notable advocates for either the minimization or removal of HEU from civilian use include Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark.

In September 2008, with support from NTI, the U.S. Department of Energy and other participants, the World Institute for Nuclear Security (WINS) opened in Vienna. The stated mission of the Institute is "to help improve security of nuclear and high hazard radioactive materials so that they are secure from unauthorized access, theft, sabotage and diversion and cannot be utilized for terrorist or other nefarious purposes."[10]

Export and Border Controls

Since the economies of the European countries are to a significant degree export oriented, a sophisticated export control system is essential. The EU produces common control lists and many countries outside the Union have adopted the EU list in their own export control systems. Despite the stringent legislation on export controls, the infamous A.Q. Khan network managed to obtain controlled technology from several companies or entrepreneurs operating in Europe, including in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom .[11] The illicit material was smuggled through several states in the region, and finally transferred to recipient states such as Libya and Iran. Also, 10 of the 15 major incidents involving illicit trafficking of HEU and/or Pu between 1993 and 2009 occurred in EU countries (the remaining five occurred in Eastern Europe or the Caucasus regions). In these incidents, materials originating from Eastern European nuclear facilities were confiscated. All these factors, along with increasing concern over proliferation of NBC weapons and the potential use of such weapons or related devices in terrorist attacks, have led European countries to tighten their export control legislation and their enforcement mechanisms.

Twenty-five Western European states participate in the Schengen Agreement, which created a "borderless" area among participating countries. All signatories to the Schengen Agreement, except Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland, are members of the European Union. Two other EU members, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, have opted not to partake fully in the Schengen Agreement, while Bulgaria and Romania are yet to join it. The agreement further establishes common policy on the temporary entry of persons (including the Schengen Visa); the harmonization of external border controls; and cross-border police cooperation. As a result, people inside the Schengen region can move freely from one country to another without controls at the borders. The agreement makes entry controls even more important where EU member states border non-EU states. Visa regulations for the Balkan states were relaxed in recent years, and now citizens of Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Albania can move freely throughout the EU (excluding the UK and Ireland), provided a biometric passport is used.[12] Germany is seeking to install a special CBRN reporting Scheme for police and customs.[13]

Internal Security and Terrorist Threats

With regard to internal security issues and terrorism in Western Europe, no large-scale ethnic, religious, or political tensions currently exist that might lead to broader violent conflicts or threaten to destabilize the democratic regimes in the region. There are, however, several cases of political activism and past terrorist activity. For example, the Basque separatist movement (ETA) in Spain was involved in both terrorist activity and political struggle until ETA renounced violence in September 2010. The ceasefire declaration, however, has not been approved by the Spanish government.[14] Another example is the case of Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom, where the situation has improved considerably over the last decade thanks in part to a formal and recognized end to armed violence declared in July 2005.[15] To a lesser extent, there is also separatist activity on the island of Corsica, France.

The threat of terrorist activity in Western Europe in recent years has emanated from groups of Islamic fundamentalist orientation, originating either from outside Europe or from cells of radicalized second-generation Muslim European nationals. Attacks by Islamic extremist groups included the March 2004 train bombings in Madrid; the July 2005 bombings in London; and the March 2011 shootings in Germany.[16]

International Treaties and Agreements

Almost all of the states in this region are parties to the major nonproliferation and counter-terrorism treaties and regimes. Without exception, all of the states in the region are parties to the NPT, CWC, and CTBT. All states (except Andorra) are parties to the BTWC. Participation is also almost 100% for most treaties, except for the JC (Portugal and Cyprus signed, but are yet to ratify it, while Malta is the only non-signatory state).

The Western European states are both exporters of high-technology equipment and mainstream political players in the international community; along with the United States, Canada, Australia, and Japan, they represent the core participants in the nonproliferation export control regimes. Consequently, 21 of the states of the region are participants in all five export control regimes, while seven more participate in either three or four of these regimes.

Regional Adherence to Nonproliferation Instruments and Organizations

Regional Organizations and Co-operation

The main regional organization in Western Europe is the European Union (EU), comprised of 27 member states. These states have transferred substantial competencies to the Union. For example, issues regarding external trade and energy, among others, fall under the competency of the Union, while foreign affairs, national defense and internal security remain under the competence of the individual states. The EU's main organs (the Council, the Commission and the European Parliament) pass legislation that is generally binding on member states; the European Court of Justice can rule on adherence to EU legislation and enforce these rulings. The EU has exclusive jurisdiction over issues related to the internal European market and commerce; thus it regulates many of the issues regarding industry and commerce in nuclear, chemical, biological, and missile technologies. The EU also promulgates and enforces many of the rules on export controls.

In the field of civil nuclear energy, the EU has exclusive jurisdiction through the European Community of Atomic Energy, widely known as EURATOM. Established in 1958, EURATOM is responsible both for regulating the nuclear energy market within the EU and for safeguarding, in collaboration with the IAEA, the nuclear facilities of the member states against diversion of nuclear material. Political oversight over EURATOM falls under the competence of the European Commissioner for Energy.

The EU's role in defense issues is still minimal, though significant progress has been achieved during recent years. The main institution for political and defense cooperation in this region remains NATO, a defense alliance. The United States, Canada, and Turkey, along with 23 states in this region, are members. Another organization dedicated to regional cooperation in security issues is the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which constitutes a looser form of political cooperation. This organization's geographical coverage is broader than NATO's as it includes the whole of the European continent along with states from North America, Central Asia, East Asia, and the Middle East. The OSCE has been helping state parties to implement best practices relating to implementation of UNSCR 1540, which includes hosting regional workshops and helping countries to develop National Action Plans (NAPs) and relevant legislation. [17]

The EU and NATO actively provide assistance to states outside the region with the implementation of UNSCR 1540. Both organizations participated and discussed 1540 cooperation efforts at the 2009 and 2010 NATO Conferences on WMD Arms Control, Disarmament and Nonproliferation. NATO has also conducted seminars on countering WMD proliferation since 2005. In 2006, the EU established a partnership with Germany's Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (BAFA), setting forth an export control project for dual-use goods. As of 2010 it also put into place long-term measures for the control over dual-use items.

Regional Activities

  • OSCE, Workshop on Facilitation of Implementation of Resolution 1540, Vienna, Austria, 27-28 January 2011
  • UN, Meeting of International, Regional and Subregional Organizations on Cooperation in Promoting Resolution 1540, Vienna, Austria, 15-16 December 2010 (More information, chairperson's statement)
  • UN, Bilateral Meetings of the 1540 Committee Chairman with High-Level Representatives of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom, London, UK, 14 September 2010
  • UN, Bilateral Meetings of the 1540 Committee Chairman with EU Personal Representative on Nonproliferation of WMD, Brussels, Belgium, 13 September 2010
  • UN, Bilateral Meetings of the 1540 Committee Chairman with High-Level Representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France, Paris, France, 10 September 2010
  • US National Security Council, Preparation Meeting for Nuclear Security Summit, The Hague, Netherlands, 9-11 February 2010 (chairperson's statement)
  • Verification Research, Training and Information Centre (VERTIC), International Workshop on Implementation of UNSC Resolution 1540 at the National Level, The Hague, Netherlands, 26-27 March 2009
  • OSCE, Meeting of the FSC, Vienna, Austria, 10 December 2008
  • UNODC, Legal Workshop for Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Vienna, Austria, 12-17 July 2008
  • Interpol European Regional Conference, Vilnius, Lithuania, May 2008 (More information)
  • IAEA, Regional Workshop on the Denial of Shipment of Radioactive Material for Countries of the Mediterranean Basin, Rome, Italy, May 2008
  • OSCE, SPMU-UNODC Workshop on Strengthening International Legal Cooperation among Member States of the OSCE to Combat Transnational Organized Crime, Vienna, Austria, April 2008
  • OSCE, International Seminar on Combating Terrorist Financing, Giessbach, Switzerland, October 2007
  • Meeting of the Senior Political Committee of NATO, Brussels, Belgium, October 2007 (chairperson's statement)
  • NATO Conference, Vilnius, Lithuania, April 2007 (chairperson's statement)
  • United Nations 1540 Committee, 1540 Conference, Bucharest, Romania, March 2007 (chairperson's statement)
  • OSCE 1540 Workshop, Vienna, Austria, November 2006 (chairperson's statement)
  • OSCE Forum for Security Cooperation, Vienna, Austria, July 2006
  • International Consortium for Law and Strategic Security and Bucharest Regional Centre on Bioterrorism, Second International Conference on Bioterrorism Prevention, Bucharest, Romania, December 2005
  • Wilton Park Conference, Nuclear Nonproliferation: What Next After the NPT Review, Steyning, UK, December 2005
  • IBC Global Conferences, Eighteenth Annual Conference on Global Trade Controls, London, UK, November 2005
  • Governments of Sweden and United States of America, Seventh International Export Control Conference, Stockholm, Sweden, September 2005
  • OSCE Forum for Security Cooperation, Vienna, Austria, July 2005
  • Interpol Conference on Biosecurity, Lyon, France, March 2005
  • De Paul University, College of Law, International Workshop on Security Council Resolution 1540 as It Pertains to Biological Weapons, Geneva, Switzerland, December 2004
  • Royal Institute of International Affairs and the Clingendael Institute, Global Nonproliferation and Counter-terrorism: Security Council Resolution 1540, London, UK; October 2004


1540 Matrix

  • 1540 Committee, List of Matrices of Member States, New York: United Nations Organization, www.un.org.

1540 National Reports

  • 1540 Committee, National Reports, New York: United Nations Organization, www.un.org.

National Legislation

  • 1540 Committee, List of Legislative Documents by Submitting UN Member States, New York: United Nations Organization, www.un.org.

Offers/Requests for Assistance

  • 1540 Committee, Requests for Assistance, New York: United Nations Organization, www.un.org.
  • 1540 Committee, Assistance from Member States, New York: United Nations Organization, www.un.org.

Treaty Participation

  • The International Organizations and Nonproliferation Program, The Inventory of International Nonproliferation Organizations and Regimes, Monterey: James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, www.nti.org.
  • "Convention on Nuclear Safety," International Conventions & Agreements, Vienna: International Atomic Energy Agency, www.iaea.org.
  • "Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material," International Conventions & Agreements, Vienna: International Atomic Energy Agency, www.iaea.org.
  • "Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management," International Conventions & Agreements, Vienna: International Atomic Energy Agency, www.iaea.org.
  • "Multilateral Arms Regulation and Disarmament Agreements," New York: United Nations Organization, http://disarmament.un.org.
  • United Nations Treaty Collection, "Extract from the Report of the Secretary-General on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism (DOC. A/62/160)," New York: United Nations Organization, http://untreaty.un.org.

Information on 1540-related Regional Activities

  • 1540 Committee, Chairperson's Statements and Outreach Activities, New York: United Nations Organization, www.un.org
  • "IAEA Meetings and Conferences," Vienna: International Atomic Energy Agency, www-pub.iaea.org.
  • "Calendar of Events," The Hague: Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, www.opcw.org.
  • "Regional Conferences," Lyon: The International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), www.interpol.int.

General Information

  • BBC Monitoring, Country Profiles, London: British Broadcasting Corporation, 2008, http://news.bbc.co.uk.
  • "The 2008 World Factbook," Washington, D.C.: U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, June 19, 2008, www.cia.gov.
  • "Background Notes," Washington, D.C.: U.S. State Department, www.state.gov
  • "Corruptions Perception Index 2010," Berlin, Germany: Transparency International, 2010, www.transparency.org.

Information on NBC Capabilities

  • "Country Profiles," Washington, D.C.: Nuclear Threat Initiative, www.nti.org.
  • "Country Briefings," London: World Nuclear Association, www.world-nuclear.org.
  • "Country Nuclear Power Profiles," Vienna: International Atomic Energy Agency, 2003, www-pub.iaea.org.
  • "Nuclear Research Reactors in the World," Vienna: International Atomic Energy Agency, www.iaea.or.at.
  • "The Model Nuclear Inventory: Accountability is Democracy, Transparency is Security," New York: Reaching Critical Will, 2007, www.reachingcriticalwill.org.
  • David Albright and Kimberly Kramer, "Civil HEU Watch: Tacking Inventories of Civil Highly Enriched Uranium," Washington, D.C.: Institute for Science and International Security, August 2005, www.isis-online.org.
  • "Civil Plutonium Produced in Power Reactors," Global Stocks of Nuclear Explosive Materials, Washington, D.C.: Institute for Science and International Security, 2005, p. 3, http://isis-online.org.
  • "The French White Paper on defence and national security," The Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy, www.acronym.org.uk.

Information Pertaining to Terrorism

  • "Full text: IRA statement," The Guardian, www.guardian.co.uk.
  • "In-Depth - London Attacks," BBC News, 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk.
  • Souad Mekhennet, "Gunman in Germany Wanted 'Revenge' for Afghanistan," The New York Times, www.nytimes.com.
  • Office of Secretary for State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2007, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of State, April 30, 2008, www.state.gov.
  • Fiona Ortiz, "Spanish government rejects ETA ceasefire move," MSNBC, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39014789/ns/world_news-europe/
  • "Timeline - the 2004 Madrid bombings," The Guardian, www.guardian.co.uk.

[1] "The French White Paper on defence and national security." The Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy, June 18, 2008. www.acronym.org.uk.
[2] "France TNP2010 - Turning commitments into actions." France TNP2010, www.francetnp2010.fr.
[3] "More Activist Intrusions at Belgian Nuclear Base Stoke Worries," Global Security Newswire, October 22, 2010, http://gsn.nti.org.
[4] Guay, Terrence. "The European Defense Industry: Prospects for Consolidation." Complutense University of Madrid, October 2005, www.ucm.es.
[5] Kelsey Davenport, "States Make New Nuclear Security Pledges," Arms Control Today, April 2012, www.armscontrol.org.
[6] "The Seoul Nuclear Security Summit Preparatory Secretariat: Highlights of Achievements and Commitments by Participating States as Stated in National Progress Reports and National Statements," 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, 27 March 2012, www.thenuclearsecuritysummit.org[7] "EU Renews Financial Support to Nuclear Security Fund." International Atomic Energy Agency, November 19, 2010, www.iaea.org.
[8] "Massive Operation Safely Secures Serbian Nuclear Fuel in Russia." International Atomic Energy Agency, December 22, 2010, www.iaea.org.
[9] "Key Facts on the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit," Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, U.S. Department of State, 28 March 2012, www.state.gov.
[10] "Vision and Mission." WINS - World Institute for Nuclear Security, 2011. www.wins.org.
[11] Broad, William J., and David E. Sanger. "In Nuclear Net's Undoing, a Web of Shadowy Deals." The New York Times, August 24, 2008, www.nytimes.com.
[12] For 2009 entries, see "Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia Win EU Visa-Free Travel." Bloomberg, July 15, 2009. www.bloomberg.com. For 2010, see "Visa free regime for Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina: the European Commission welcomes the Council's decision." EUROPA, November 8, 2010, http://europa.eu.
[13] "The Seoul Nuclear Security Summit Preparatory Secretariat: Highlights of Achievements and Commitments by Participating States as Stated in National Progress Reports and National Statements," 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, 27 March 2012, www.thenuclearsecuritysummit.org
[14] Ortiz, Fiona. "Spanish government rejects ETA ceasefire move." MSNBC, January 10, 2011, www.msnbc.msn.com.
[15] "Full text: IRA statement," The Guardian, July 28, 2005, www.guardian.co.uk.
[16] For Madrid, see "Timeline - the 2004 Madrid bombings." The Guardian, October 31, 2007, www.guardian.co.uk. For London, see "In-Depth - London Attacks." BBC News, 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk. For Germany, see Souad Mekhennet's "Gunman in Germany Wanted 'Revenge' for Afghanistan." The New York Times, March 4, 2011, www.nytimes.com.
[17]Anton Martyniuk, Vaclovas Semaskevicius, and Adriana Volenikova, "UNSCR 1540 and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe," 1540 Compass, 2012, www.cits.uga.edu.

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This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents.


This report is part of a collection examining implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540, which requires all states to implement measures aimed at preventing non-state actors from acquiring NBC weapons, related materials, and their means of delivery. It details implementation efforts in Western Europe to-date.

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