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ARZ 2023 - A Strategic Milestone in CBRN Counterterrorism Efforts

ARZ 2023 - A Strategic Milestone in CBRN Counterterrorism Efforts

Beirut, Lebanon -


Under the patronage of the Prime Minister and within the framework of the European Union Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Centres of Excellence Initiative (EU CBRN CoE), a targeted field exercise addressing CBRN terrorism unfolded in Beirut, Lebanon from March 4 to 7, 2024. This significant initiative aligns seamlessly with the CBRN National Action Plan of the Republic of Lebanon 2023-2028.

Named after the Cedar tree, a symbol of Lebanon's strength, ARZ embodies the resilience of national institutions. This choice reflects Lebanon's steadfastness in the face of challenges, including the CBRN dimensions of the Port of Beirut explosion.

Part of a comprehensive Middle East series initiated with ARZ 2021 and complemented by the preparatory field training "ARZ 2023,"on May 2023, this exercise strengthens regional resilience, serving as a platform to test and validate Lebanon's capacities in the CBRN domain. It acts as a diagnostic tool, measuring the needs of Lebanese institutions involved in CBRN event responses and identifying areas requiring enhanced capabilities. The series will continue with a Regional Table top Exercise scheduled in 2025 in Jordan.

Under the leadership of Lebanon's National CBRN Coordinator, Dr. Bilal Nsouli, and funded by the Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI) of the European Commission, ARZ 2023 was co-organized by the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) and the On-Site Assistance Expert for the Middle East Regional Secretariat (CBRN CoE Project n. 94). ARZ 2023 was also supported by and designed in close coordination with the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC), Fondazione SAFE, the CoE Projects n. 73 “Protection of Critical Infrastructures”, the CoE Project n. 94 “On-Site Technical Assistance to the EU CBRN CoE Regional Secretariats” and the CoE Project n. 97 “Improvement of the Chemical Security and Safety in the Middle East”.

Key participants included Lebanese institutions: Lebanese Armed Forces, Internal Security Forces, Beirut Fire Brigade, Civil Defence, Lebanese Atomic Energy Commission, and Red Cross.

A team of international evaluators, coordinated by a CBRN expert from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, comprised members from the Austrian Armed Forces/On-Site Assistance Expert for the Middle East, ,– French Police (France), the Guardia Civil (Spain), EUROGENDFOR, the International Criminal Organizations (INTERPOL), the Italian Army,, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), UNICRI, and from Iraqi Ministry of Interior   

Observers comprised representatives from the European Union (EU), the European Commission (EC), the League of Arab States, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNOCT), the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), expert delegates from countries cooperating in CBRN issues with Lebanon (Oman, United States), delegates from partner countries of the EU CBRN CoE initiative, implementers of relevant projects, and selected representatives of foreign missions present in Lebanon

ARZ 2023 scenarios delved into operational and strategic aspects, covering critical areas like managing chemical leaks triggered by terroristic attacks,, identifying CBRN materials, medical treatment and decontamination of casualties ,countering CBRN terrorism, VIP protection and rescue in a CBRN-contaminated environment, and refining communication strategies in emergencies.

The exercise aimed to enhance Lebanon's response capabilities to CBRN threats, foster interagency coordination, strengthen capacities related to sampling and identification and medical treatment and refine operational procedures.

ARZ 2023 stands as a testament to international collaboration and shared commitment in building resilience against CBRN threats. The successful execution of this exercise signifies a collective step forward in ensuring the safety and security of nations.

More information about the project