Led by the United States and Russia, 13 countries recently promulgated eight general principles for averting and responding to nuclear terrorism. The group will meet in February to discuss further actions.
The principles emerged from the inaugural Oct. 30-31 meeting in Rabat, Morocco, of the voluntary Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin announced the initiative in July on the eve of the Group of Eight (G-8) summit in St. Petersburg. (See ACT, September 2006.)
In addition to host Morocco and the other six G-8 members-Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom-Russia and the United States invited Australia, China, Kazakhstan, and Turkey to participate in the meeting and the International Atomic Energy Agency to observe.
A Department of State official told Arms Control Today Nov. 18 that Moscow and Washington wanted to limit the initial meeting to a "manageable size." Invites were extended to China and Australia, according to the official, because they are seen as "very important" to the initiative's success, while Kazakhstan and Turkey are "important geographically." The latter three countries also were among the first publicly to welcome the initiative's unveiling.
The October principles outline basic steps governments should take to deny terrorists the means to conduct nuclear attacks as well as measures to mitigate the consequences if governments fail. The principles also emphasize developing capabilities to trace and prosecute terrorists and their accomplices or suppliers.
Many of the principles essentially have already been accepted in existing international agreements or legal mandates. The 2005 International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism obligates adherents to protect their radioactive material against theft, while UN Security Council Resolution 1540 and its successor, Resolution 1673, require all governments to take an array of steps to prevent nonstate actors from acquiring nuclear arms or biological and chemical weapons. …