Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT)
Announced: Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin and United States President George W. Bush jointly announced the creation of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) during the G8 Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia on 15 July 2006. The Initiative builds on the Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and its 2005 Amendment, and United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1373 and 1540.
Participants: 86 (Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Libya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Montenegro, Morocco, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Palau, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Zambia,) and 5 official observers (International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), European Union (EU), International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI).
Purpose: The purpose of the GICNT is to strengthen global capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to nuclear terrorism through multilateral activities that strengthen the plans, policies, procedures, and interoperability of partner nations.
Background: The GICNT’s first meeting took place in Rabat, Morocco in October 2006 under the leadership of Ambassador Robert Joseph of the United States and Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Kislyak. During the meeting, representatives from 13 countries jointly adopted the Statement of Principles that outlined commitments of the GICNT:
1. Develop and improve accounting, control and physical security of nuclear and other radioactive materials and substances;
2. Improve and enhance security at civilian nuclear facilities;
3. Improve the ability to detect nuclear and other radioactive materials in order to prevent illicit trafficking, including cooperation in the research and development of national detection capabilities that would be interoperable;
4. Improve capabilities 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.
If a State desires to become a partner in the GICNT it must send a written letter of endorsement of the Statement of Principles to the GICNT Co-Chairs (United States or Russian Federation). The State is admitted as a partner upon a Co-Chairs’ agreement.
Only international governmental organizations can serve as official observers of the GICNT. In this capacity they can provide advice and expertise to the GICNT regarding activities and the development of best practices. In order to become an official observer, an international governmental organization must send a written letter of endorsement of the Statement of Principles to the GICNT Co-Chairs. Upon Co-Chair agreement, the organization gains observer status. Currently, the IAEA, the EU, INTERPOL, UNODC, and UNICRI are official observers of the GICNT.
2015: On 26-28 January, Finland hosted the “Northern Lights” Nuclear Detection Working Group Workshop and Tabletop Exercise. Participants focused on investigating, detecting, and countering illicit trafficking involving nuclear and radioactive materials.
On 3-5 March, the Netherlands hosted the workshop and mock trial exercise, “Glowing Tulip.” The workshop emphasized strong legal practices with regard to out of regulatory control nuclear material, and worked with participants’ national laboratories to promote best practices and to support preparing expert testimony.
On 15-17 April, the Philippines hosted the Public Messaging for Emergency Management Workshop, “Sugong Bagani: Envoy Warrior.” The workshop focused on communicating with the public in the event of a terrorist attack involving nuclear or other radioactive materials.
On 5-7 May, the European Union’s Joint Research Centre, Institute for Transuranium Elements, hosted the Joint Detection and Forensics Exercise, “Radiant City.” The exercise took place in Karlsruhe, Germany.
On 16-17 June, partner nations and official observers gathered for the 9th senior-level Plenary Meeting of the GICNT in Helsinki, Finland. During the meeting, the United States and Russia were selected as the co-chairs for 2015-2019. Apart from highlighting recent achievements of the GICNT, the Plenary reviewed progress made by the Implementation and Assessment Group (IAG) working groups, and discussed future plans for the Convention.
In September, the Belfer Center cited the GICNT as a useful “diplomatic vehicle” by which to “promote greater cooperation between” the nuclear-weapons states and large nuclear powers, in order to secure all nuclear and fissile materials. This was in response to several thwarted attempts at nuclear smuggling out of Moldova in 2014 and 2015.
2014: On 4-7 February, Malaysia, with support from Australia, New Zealand and the United States, hosted the Tiger Reef Cross-Disciplinary Training Workshop and Tabletop Exercise on Nuclear Forensics in Kuala Lumpur. Experts from the GICNT’s Response and Mitigation Working Group (RMWG) and Nuclear Forensics Working Group (NFWG) attended the event.
On 20 March, the members of the GICNT, represented by the United States, Russia, Spain, Republic of Korea, the Netherlands, Australia, and Morocco, made a statement at the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit providing updates on the organization’s activities and reaffirming the need for “nuclear security collaboration.”
Also on 20 March, the GICNT RWMG convened a meeting in Amsterdam to discuss Morocco in the context of “International Cooperation to Enhance a Worldwide Nuclear Security Culture.”
2013: From 19-22 February, the GICNT Implementation and Assessment Group (IAG met for the Mid-Year meeting in Madrid, Spain.
On 25-26 April, GICNT members Spain and Morocco initiated a two-day joint tabletop exercise called REMEX, demonstrating the proper response to a simultaneous attack from a radiological dispersal device.
On 24 May, the 2013 GICNT Plenary Meeting was held in Mexico City, Mexico. Participants discussed progress made since 2011, revisiting workshops and conferences hosted by GICNT nation-states. The IAG also reported on its activities since 2011. Spain finished its term as IAG Coordinator, and the GICNT endorsed South Korea as IAG Coordinator for the next two years. The next Plenary Meeting will be held in 2015 in Finland.
In October, Greece held a workshop with the Nuclear Detection Working Group (NDWG) focusing on best practices for nuclear detection and the development of a “playbook” or toolkit to help with nuclear tabletop exercises and provide a learning supplement.
2012: On 21 March, the Co-Chairs (Russia and the United States) of the GICNT issued a statement on the contributions of the GICNT to enhancing nuclear security.
In May, Canada hosted RADEX 2012, an exercise devoted to the reaction of a state to the threat of a terrorist attack using a radiological dispersal device. It also discussed obstacles to information sharing between states and ways to improve communication.
In May, Australia also hosted Iron Koala: Information Sharing during Smuggling Events. The event featured discussion on combatting nuclear trafficking through information sharing, assessment of previous responses to unregulated radioactive material, and breakout groups on the complexities of nuclear smuggling. The event’s attendees were 79 delegates from 24 nations.
In September, Russia hosted an exercise called “Guardian 2012.” The event discussed nuclear detection response and countering nuclear terrorism.
In November, the United Kingdom hosted the 2nd Symposium on Enhanced Detection of Special Nuclear Material.
2011: In February Spain hosted a GICNT mid-year IAG meeting. The technical meetings focused on the working groups on nuclear detection and nuclear forensics. The meetings also granted technical experts the ability to craft a framework for developing practical products for partners to effectively counter nuclear terrorist activities.
On 22-25 March, Morocco hosted an exercise called “Rabat 2011.” The exercise sought to enhance national capacities to detect and respond to incidents involving radioactive materials. Discussions of operational and policy concepts took place along with hands-on demonstrations on responding to such incidents.
In May, the United Kingdom hosted the “Radiological Exercise Design & Development Workshop.” The workshop focused on providing participants the basic tools in order to conduct nuclear and radiological emergency exercises. Participants were advised on how to develop exercise objectives, design and manage emergency scenarios, and later effectively evaluate the exercise.
On 30 June, formal participants and official observers met in Daejeon, Republic of Korea for the fifth consecutive GICNT Plenary Meeting. The Russian and United States co-chairs brought attention to Spain who was the first coordinator of the IAG. A full report of IAG progress was provided by the coordinator to the members. Furthermore, the IAG coordinator proposed adding a third priority functional area of “response and mitigation” in addition to the two areas of nuclear detection and nuclear forensics. Lastly, it was decided that the next plenary session would be hosted in Mexico in 2013.
2010: The 2010 GICNT Plenary Meeting convened on 28-29 June in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Mexico, Vietnam, the Philippines, Singapore, Argentina, and Thailand joined the GICNT, bringing the total participants number to 82. Actions undertaken during the meeting included: adoption of a revised terms of reference that more clearly defined participant roles and responsibilities and established concrete mechanisms for GICNT implementation; endorsement of the Russian Federation and the United States to continue to serve as GICNT Co-Chairs; agreement to activate the IAG that will provide strategic oversight and coordination of future GICNT activities; selection of Spain as the first IAG Coordinator, and the establishment of nuclear detection and nuclear forensics as priority functional areas for the next year. Partner nations briefed participants on key outcomes of GICNT exercises. The meeting concluded with GICNT members committing themselves to continue contributing to workshops, practical exercises, information sharing, and all other forms of collaboration including use of the Global Initiative Information Portal (GIIP), an unclassified, secure website that enables partner nations to communicate and collaborate in one centralized location.
On 28-30 September Kazakhstan hosted a GICNT exercise on Countering the Financing of Nuclear Terrorism as well as the first meeting of the IAG. The conference brought together law enforcement, financial and non-proliferation experts to investigate and develop holistic approaches to countering the financing of nuclear terrorism, as well as run simulations to test existing international standards and programs. The IAG meeting established the work of the body for the years to come and created working groups on nuclear detection (led by the Netherlands) and nuclear forensics (led by Australia).
2009: On 14-16 June, GICNT Plenary Meeting took place in the Hague, Netherlands, focusing on “enhancing international partnerships by sharing best practices.” In a statement to the Conference, the United States President Barack Obama expressed his full support for the Initiative and welcomed 75 nations that joined it. GICNT partners welcomed INTERPOL as a new official GICNT observer. Participants committed to continue outreach efforts to further expand participation in key regions around the word and to strengthen the GICNT through civil society, particularly the relevant business sector, in GICNT meetings and activities.
2008: 22 States joined the GICNT in 2008. On 6 June, under the framework of the GICNT Kazakhstan and eight other states conducted a counterterrorist exercise “Atom-Antiterror 2008” simulating terrorists seizing a nuclear facility on the outskirts of Almaty.
From 16-18 June, 56 of the 76 GICNT members attended the fourth meeting of the GICNT in Madrid, Spain. Topics included strengthening detection and forensics, denying safe haven and financing to terrorists, and deterring terrorist intentions to acquire and use nuclear devices. Partner nations stressed the need for increased cooperation between counterterrorism and counterproliferation communities.
2007: The second meeting of the GICNT took place in Ankara, Turkey on 12 February. The IAEA attended the meeting as an observer and provided participants information about its main activities in 2007. GICNT partners reviewed specific activities consistent with the purpose of the GICNT and scheduled them for 2007-2008.
In concurrence with the meeting, the United States hosted the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism Law Enforcement Conference which aimed at helping GICNT members to better investigate, prevent, and respond to sudden strikes by terrorists using nuclear devices or other radioactive materials.
At the third meeting of the GICNT in Astana, Kazakhstan, on 11-12 June GICNT members reviewed the list of planned activities for 2007-2008. The meeting also focused on more clearly defining the goals and mission of the GICNT, and identifying ways to involve more States.
2006: On 15 July, the United States President George W. Bush and Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin announced the creation of the GICNT.
Representatives from the United States, the Russian Federation, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Turkey, and the United Kingdom attended the first meeting of the GICNT from 30-31 October in Rabat, Morocco.
This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury 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. Copyright 2015.