Conference Pledges to Curb Dirty Bomb Danger

By Kucia, Christine | Arms Control Today, April 2003 | Go to article overview

Conference Pledges to Curb Dirty Bomb Danger


Kucia, Christine, Arms Control Today


INTERNATIONAL LEADERS, MEETING in Vienna March 10-13, called for "cradle-to-grave control" for materials that could be used to create a radioactive dispersal device, otherwise known as a "dirty bomb." In particular, the conference urged stepped-up measures to protect the potentially lethal materials, particularly "orphan" sources that remain unprotected in countries without the means to monitor or secure the material.

The conference, co-sponsored by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Russia, and the United States, drew more than 700 people from more than 120 countries to tackle the issues surrounding the possession, monitoring, and transport of high-risk radiological material. U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham called for the meeting in November 2002, stressing a need to "develop the international framework for dealing with the specific threat posed by dirty bombs."

After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, governments have become increasingly concerned that terrorists might construct a dirty bomb, which incorporates radioactive material in a conventional explosive bomb. Security for the material "has taken on a new urgency," IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei said March 11.

On March 11, Abraham announced a $3 million U.S. contribution to the IAEA's new Radiological Security Partnership, a program that will help developing countries secure their abandoned radiological materials. …

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