Global Security Newswire
Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
Central Asian Nations Seek to Reduce "Dirty Bomb" Threat
A group of Central Asian countries yesterday pledged to take steps to reduce the threat posed by massive amounts of Soviet-era nuclear byproduct that could be repurposed in a radiological "dirty bomb," Agence France-Presse reported (see GSN, June 24).
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan together are home to roughly 800 million tons of radioactive and toxic materials contained in uranium tailing deposits that date back to Cold War mining efforts. The material is separated from scavengers -- and the countries' water supplies -- by nothing but aging dams.
"It has been explained to us that the kind of material that exists can be used for dirty bombs, that's the kind of risk that exists today" said Jens Wandel, deputy regional director of the U.N. Development Program (Agence France-Presse/Spacewar.com, June 29).
Representatives from the nations, international groups and other "stakeholders" addressed the threat yesterday during a conference in Geneva, according to the U.N. organization.
They agreed to bolster "regulatory frameworks and national capacity to address the problem"; promoted "community development including both containment of toxic waste and community economic, ecological and social development"; and issued "a call for public-private partnerships to bring in investments and to explore opportunities to further exploit the tailings for economic gain," according to a press release.
“Several international organizations and donors expressed support for the initiative, including UNDP, [the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe], the European Commission, [the Eurasian Economic Community], the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the governments of Canada, Finland, Norway, Russia and others. We now have real momentum towards a multilateral approach to dealing with the problem," Miroslav Jenca, special representative of the U.N. secretary general to Central Asia, said in the release (U.N. Development Program release, June 29).
This article provides an overview of Uzbekistan's historical and current policies relating to nuclear, chemical, biological and missile proliferation.