Interpol conference focuses on response to radiological and nuclear terrorism

Approximately 60 officers from nine South and Central American countries recently attended a meeting of the International Criminal Police Organization, or Interpol, meant to develop a coordinated regional approach to preventing terrorism.

The officers met in Panama to develop the response to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives-related terrorism. The five-day meeting, which took place between July 29 and August 2, was organized by Interpol's CBRNE Terrorism Prevention Programme and the Interpol National Central Bureau in Panama. The meeting was meant to identify regional methodology for leading effective prevention-oriented, intelligence-driven investigations into CBRNE-related acts of terrorism.

"The risk of CBRNE materials being used by terrorists is very real and it is critical that we work together to address the threat if we want to keep the Americas, and indeed the whole world, safe for its citizens," Julio Molto, Panama's police director, said.

The officers discussed regional operations against trafficking in radioactive materials, radiation detection equipment and incidence response mechanisms. The participants took part in practical exercises, scenario-based tabletop exercises and familiarized themselves with mobile detection systems.

"Combating the security threat that hazardous materials poses in the region requires a concerted regional approach amongst different public security sectors," Anthony Thomas, Interpol's CBRNE program manager, said. "This meeting has served to give countries a regional overview of the radiological and nuclear terrorism threat, and a better idea of how they can work together more effectively in countering it."

Within the next six months, participants will receive a follow-up survey to allow the region to assess what steps the countries must take to implement CBRNE terrorism prevention policies.