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– Gary Samore
Former White House Coordinator for Arms Control and WMD Terrorism
Global Initiative Sets Priorities
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July/August 2016

By Kelsey Davenport

Members of a voluntary initiative to strengthen nuclear security and prevent nuclear terrorism met last month to discuss the initiative’s work over the past 10 years and lay out new priorities.

The Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT), formed in 2006 by Russia and the United States, now comprises 86 member countries that work to strengthen global capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to nuclear terrorism.

The partner countries met in the Netherlands on June 15-16. Rose Gottemoeller, U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control and nonproliferation, and Mikhail Ulyanov, director of the department for nonproliferation and arms control in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, co-chaired the meeting, which included six sessions that addressed the initiative’s past work and new areas of focus. 

The chairman’s summary from the meeting said that the GICNT is a “unique forum for dialogue between technical experts, operational experts, practitioners, policymakers and decision-makers to develop ideas and identify models and practices that enhance nuclear security.”

The chairman’s summary identified radioactive source security as a priority area for future focus. The summary also said that “regional cooperation was highlighted as a way of increasing readiness and awareness and helping to build trust among technical, operation and policy experts so that they are better prepared to coordinate in a crisis situation.”

Leading up to the 10th anniversary meeting, several officials recommended that the GICNT enhance its focus on regional exercises given that such activities can generate targeted solutions based on common threats that might be unique to different areas. (See ACT, June 2016.

The Dutch coordinator of the implementation and assessment group recommended that legal experts should be involved more in working to “assess and strengthen legal frameworks,” according to the chairman’s summary. 

The GICNT has three working groups covering nuclear forensics, nuclear detection, and response and mitigation. There is also an implementation and assessment group led by the Netherlands that oversees GICNT activities and coordinates other international efforts to prevent duplication.

According to the chairman’s summary, the GICNT has held more than 80 multilateral activities and produced seven documents that build on the initiative’s foundational guidelines to enhance national capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to acts of nuclear terrorism. 

Japan will host the next plenary meeting of the GICNT in June 2017.