National Nuclear Security Administration

NNSA joins Panda Warrior exercise to establish nuclear security measures for major public events

November 2, 2018

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Representatives from China, Russia, and the United States provided opening statements on the first day of Panda Warrior in Beijing.
Representatives from China, Russia, and the United States provided opening statements on the first day of Panda Warrior in Beijing.
Dr. Rick Maurer, senior principal scientist from the Remote Sensing Laboratory, addresses workshop participants during Major Public Events fundamentals presentation.
Dr. Rick Maurer, senior principal scientist from the Remote Sensing Laboratory, addresses workshop participants during Major Public Events fundamentals presentation.

At major public events on the global stage, leaders must consider the best approach to deter and minimize any potential nuclear or radiological security threat.

In mid-October, NNSA’s Office of Nuclear Incident Policy and Cooperation partnered with the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Terrorism and the Government of China to support Panda Warrior – a four-day international workshop to combat nuclear terrorism and strengthen nuclear emergency response at major public events – held in Beijing.

“NNSA and its world-class experts in nuclear security are often asked to cosponsor workshops with local and international partners to ensure highly publicized events are safe and secure from nuclear terror threats,” said Jay A. Tilden, Deputy Under Secretary for Counterterrorism and Counterproliferation. “This workshop helped to reinforce our relationship with China and other regional partners and establish realistic expectations for major event security."

On the second day of the workshop, experts from Argentina, Australia, the U.S., and the IAEA discuss elements of the simulated scenario and how to employ skills gained during the event.
On the second day of the workshop, experts from Argentina, Australia, the United States, and the IAEA discuss elements of the simulated scenario and how to employ skills gained during the event.

The workshop’s main goals were to raise awareness about the expanding role of nuclear security principles, to assess critical factors involved in the coordination between technical experts and law enforcement, and to identify appropriate models for international cooperation and notifications, which are essential in planning for a safe large-scale event.

On the first day, an international group of experts gave a series of briefings to attendees, outlining the fundamental nuclear security planning principles for a major public event. They presented case studies from events around the world for analysis.

The NNSA team provided subject matter expertise for workshop materials, helped facilitate sessions, briefed participants, and participated in a panel of experts. 

On subsequent days, participants formed smaller groups in a facilitated tabletop exercise. Using a fictional country and a scenario involving a large, upcoming summit, participants were able to use some of the strategies and tools gained during the first day. The assembly concluded with participants touring the facilities in the Chinese Institute for Atomic Energy and the nuclear security Center of Excellence.

Assisted by an NNSA facilitator, participants break out into small groups to discuss challenges posed during the simulated scenario.
Assisted by an NNSA facilitator, participants break out into small groups to discuss challenges posed during the simulated scenario.

Twenty countries were represented at Panda Warrior, including participants serving in roles as regulators, technical experts, law enforcement authorities and the military.

Participants noted the importance of planning when considering safety in a major public event and the effect it can have on a country’s nuclear security capabilities.

The workshop was hosted by the Government of China and jointly planned with the Department of State. The workshop is part of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and supports the larger U.S. strategy for countering nuclear terrorism and providing nuclear emergency response at major public events.