On 13 - 16 September 2021, the Iraqi National Monitoring Authority (INMA) with the support of UNICRI held a four-day national training entitled “Combating Illicit Trafficking and Smuggling of Radiological and Nuclear Materials and Response Mechanisms”. The training was addressed to the Iraqi officers in charge of responding to nuclear security accidents and illicit trafficking operations. The initiative was conducted within the framework of the project “CONTACT – Enhancing capacities to prevent the trafficking of radiological and nuclear material in the Middle East”, funded by Global Affairs Canada. The organization of the event was facilitated by the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) National Focal Point, Dr. Riad Al-Tamimi from the Iraqi National Monitoring Authority (INMA).
A total of seventeen participants from the Iraqi security agencies attended the training, including officers from the Iraqi National Monitoring Authority (INMA), the Iraqi Radioactive Sources Regulatory Authority (IRSRA), the Iraqi National Security Service (INSS), the Ministry of Environment’s Radiation Protection Center (RPC), the Ministry of Interior’s Customs Police and Criminal Evidence Directorates, the General Authority of Customs, and the Border Ports Commission. The aim of the training was to enhance knowledge of radioactive and nuclear (RN) materials subject to potential smuggling operations, and unauthorized use. In addition, the training aimed to enhance the participants’ skills in prevention and detection of illicit trafficking operations involving radiological and nuclear materials.
Over the course of the four days, the threat of illicit trafficking and the role of relevant intelligence operations were also discussed. In addition, basic information about ionizing radiation and radiation protection was acquired by the participants. At the end of the training, the participants acquired a sound knowledge of the detection equipment needed during search operations and how to properly use it. Furthermore, the training focused on the importance of intelligence information in supporting the identification of those involved in illicit trafficking of radiological and nuclear material.
“After months of intense preparations, and inter-agency coordination, and despite the challenges associated with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am glad to see the successful outcome of the CONTACT National training that was held this week in Baghdad. The training was fruitful and steered very good discussions among participants, introducing them to the roles and responsibilities of different agencies working in the area of combating RN trafficking. I extend my gratitude to Al-Nahrain center for hosting the event and to our colleagues in UNICRI for their constant support and guidance throughout the whole process. I would also like to thank the national team of trainers for their commitment, dedication, and hard work.” said Dr. Riad Al-Tamimi CBRN National Focal Point - Iraqi National Monitoring Authority for non-proliferation (INMA).
Mr. Francesco Marelli, Head of Programme, of UNICRI’s CBRN Risk Mitigation and Security Governance, said: “I commend the outstanding efforts and inter-agency coordination, led by Dr. Riad Al-Tamimi, in the implementation of this successful national training in the area of combating smuggling of RN materials. The training has been an excellent platform for exchanging experiences and knowledge among different national agencies and has, therefore, achieved one of the key intended outcomes of the CONTACT project.”
The CONTACT – Middle East project is aimed at enhancing capacities of state security, law enforcement and nuclear regulatory authority officials of Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan to carry out intelligence and law enforcement operations aimed at thwarting RN trafficking attempts. The project is generously funded by Global Affairs Canada’s Weapons Threat Reduction Bureau.
CONTACT is the first project in the Middle East that focuses on intelligence operations to counter the illicit trafficking of RN material. Previous international projects have concentrated their efforts on the provision and use of radiation detection equipment to identify illicit trafficking. However, the “human factor” is of equal importance, as demonstrated by the fact that the majority of successful seizures of radiological and nuclear material is attributable to soundly planned and executed intelligence operations. With the CONTACT project, UNICRI is working with countries in the Middle East to share good practices and reinforce capabilities to effectively and carefully plan intelligence and law enforcement operations as well as to promote the exchange of information at the national, regional and international levels.