On 26-28 June 2023 the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) organized the third regional peer-to-peer (P2P) workshop on emerging and potential regional threats of nuclear and radiological (RN) materials out of regulatory control (MORC).
The workshop gathered representatives of security and law enforcement agencies, as well as regulatory authorities from Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine to share experiences and address the MORC threat in the Black Sea region. Discussions revolved around ensuring the security of radioactive materials, identifying main vulnerabilities, and implementing measures to prevent radioactive material from becoming MORC.
The workshop included country presentations, a tabletop exercise, and presentations from international and regional actors and law enforcement agencies of neighboring European Union countries. The workshop was conducted within the framework of the project “CONTACT – Black Sea: Enhancing capacities to prevent the trafficking of radiological and nuclear material in the Black Sea region,” jointly funded by the United Kingdom Department for Energy, Security and Net Zero (UK DESNZ); the Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (DSA); and the United States Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). The event was organized with the support of the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) National Focal Points and the Head of the Regional Secretariat for South East and Eastern Europe.
The workshop addressed an extremely important topic, particularly in the light of the recent events in the region. According to reports from the Incident and Trafficking Database (ITDB) and other sources, there have been numerous cases of loss of radioactive sources worldwide. In the Black Sea region alone, security services have seized a significant number of MORC from the black market over the past two decades. Criminals continue to obtain radioactive sources through different means, posing a significant challenge. This situation is further exacerbated by the invasion of Russia in Ukraine which had led to the loss of control over nuclear facilities and the subsequent loss of thousands of radioactive sources of all categories. This development will inevitably contribute to an increase of radioactive material on the black market, posing a significant threat not only to the Black Sea region but potentially to the entire continent of Europe.
On June 1, 2020, UNICRI launched the project “CONTACT - Black Sea: Enhancing capacities to prevent the trafficking of radiological and nuclear material in the Black Sea region”. The project aims to enhance the capacities of security and law enforcement officials in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine to prevent and counter trafficking of radiological and nuclear material. The project also aims to foster regional cooperation and exchange of information on RN trafficking-related incidents. UNICRI is responsible for implementing the project, which is jointly funded by UK DESNZ, DSA and DTRA.