National Nuclear Security Administration

NNSA joins INTERPOL to enhance radiological security in Africa

July 12, 2018

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The Radiological and Nuclear Prevention and Response course held in Accra, Ghana, gathered participants from eight African countries.
The Radiological and Nuclear Prevention and Response course held in Accra, Ghana, gathered participants from eight African countries.
Participants listen and discuss nuclear and radiological security in-depth. From left, Jabal Jesse and Ayami Ifork of Nigeria.
Participants listen and discuss nuclear and radiological security in-depth. From left, Jabal Jesse and Ayami Ifork of Nigeria.

NNSA and the International Criminal Police Organization-INTERPOL are continuing their work teaching countries around the world how to conduct effective investigations into acts of terrorism that involve radioactive and nuclear materials and technology.

NNSA and INTERPOL teamed up for a five-day Radiological and Nuclear Prevention and Response course in Accra, Ghana, last April. The training was specifically aimed at promoting increased cooperation at a national and regional level. Eight African countries – Ghana, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Mauritania, Niger, Cameroon, and Uganda – sent representatives from law enforcement and regulatory agencies and other relevant government organizations.

By partnering with INTERPOL, NNSA is able to bring together law enforcement officials and our technical experts from the U.S. National Laboratories to address the complex and important issue of nuclear and radiological terrorism.

Dr. Brent Park
NNSA’s Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation

“Our cooperation with INTERPOL is part of NNSA’s ongoing efforts to accelerate and strengthen radiological material protection around the world,” said Dr. Brent Park, NNSA’s Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation. “By partnering with INTERPOL, NNSA is able to bring together law enforcement officials and our technical experts from the U.S. National Laboratories to address the complex and important issue of nuclear and radiological terrorism.”

The success of these investigations requires extensive interagency coordination. To address this, the course content concentrated on law enforcement activities and operations that require a coordinated national prevention and response plan for radiological and nuclear terrorism.

NNSA experts discussed topics including radioactive material vulnerabilities, radioactive material protection, and law enforcement pre-alarm prevention and response operations. They stressed the need to keep personal safety in mind while prioritizing response steps.

The training helped teach first-level and intermediate-level supervisors how to conduct radiological and nuclear investigations. It also familiarized law enforcement managers and their interagency peers with the management of radiological and nuclear operations and programs.

The course included practical exercises involving scenario-based tabletop exercises where participants used radiation detection instruments to practice assessment.

Most importantly the course created awareness of radiological and nuclear risks and threats. It built basic competence in police preventative measures, investigative procedures, and response capabilities for radiological and nuclear matters.

The course is part of a five-year effort between NNSA and INTERPOL, which began in 2016, with the goal of conducting nine targeted training sessions throughout the world.