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Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force

Working Group on Preventing and Responding to WMD Terrorist Attacks

Overview

Mandate:

United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy:

Section II, paragraph 5: “To strengthen coordination and cooperation among States in combating crimes that might be connected with terrorism, including drug trafficking in all its aspects, illicit arms trade, in particular of small arms and light weapons, including man-portable air defence systems, money-laundering and smuggling of nuclear, chemical, biological, radiological and other potentially deadly materials;”

Section II, paragraph 11: “To invite the United Nations system to develop, together with Member States, a single comprehensive database on biological incidents, ensuring that it is complementary to the biocrimes database contemplated by the International Criminal Police Organization. We also encourage the Secretary-General to update the roster of experts and laboratories, as well as the technical guidelines and procedures, available to him for the timely and efficient investigation of alleged use..;”

Section II, paragraph 13: “To step up national efforts and bilateral, subregional, regional and international cooperation, as appropriate, to improve border and customs controls in order to prevent and detect the movement of terrorists and prevent and detect the illicit traffic in, inter alia, small arms and light weapons, conventional ammunition and explosives, and nuclear, chemical, biological or radiological weapons and materials, while recognizing that States may require assistance to that effect;”

Section II, paragraph 17: “To invite the United Nations to improve coordination in planning a response to a terrorist attack using nuclear, chemical, biological or radiological weapons or materials, in particular by reviewing and improving the effectiveness of the existing inter-agency coordination mechanisms for assistance delivery, relief operations and victim support, so that all States can receive adequate assistance. In this regard, we invite the General Assembly and the Security Council to develop guidelines for the necessary cooperation and assistance in the event of a terrorist attack using weapons of mass destruction;”

Section III, paragraph 9: “To encourage the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to continue their efforts, within their respective mandates, in helping States to build capacity to prevent terrorists from accessing nuclear, chemical or radiological materials, to ensure security at related facilities and to respond effectively in the event of an attack using such materials;”

Section III, paragraph 10: “To encourage the World Health Organization to step up its technical assistance to help States to improve their public health systems to prevent and prepare for biological attacks by terrorists.”

Status:

Field response teams from IAEA Member States train in real radioactive contamination conditions, in the Chernobyl exclusion zone. As part of an extensive training programme, the IAEA Incident and Emergency Centre is organising "train the trainers" courses for environmental radioactivity monitoring after a nuclear accident.

Field response teams from IAEA Member States train in real radioactive contamination conditions, in the Chernobyl exclusion zone. As part of an extensive training programme, the IAEA Incident and Emergency Centre is organising "train the trainers" courses for environmental radioactivity monitoring after a nuclear accident.

Photo: IAEA

The CTITF Working Group on Preventing and Responding to WMD Attacks was established to strengthen the exchange of information and knowledge among relevant UN entities and international organisations related to response to WMD terrorist attacks.

The Working Group has formulated a work plan to assess how the UN and certain international organizations would engage on the issue of a terrorist attack where chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons or materials were used, and the level of coordination among them. The first phase of the work plan aims to both familiarize Member States with existing mechanisms in individual entities of the Working Group, as well as inter-agency mechanisms, in the context of nuclear and/or radiological weapons and materials, and to identify opportunities for strengthening this coordination.

The Working Group has prepared a report deriving primarily from the knowledge, experiences, lessons, and observations shared at the CTITF workshop: “International Response and Mitigation of a Terrorist Attack Using Nuclear and Radiological Weapons or Materials”, as well as input received from the participants afterwards. The workshop, hosted by the International Atomic Energy Agency and held in Vienna in March 2010, included a round table discussion on different scenarios and explored the various capabilities and experiences of participating entities and organizations with regard to nuclear or radiological dispersal events, particularly in the context of a terrorist attack.

Experiences and lessons learnt in this phase have been taken forward to the next phase which has focused on chemical and biological weapons materials.

A CTITF workshop on "International response and mitigation of a terrorist use of chemical, biological and toxin weapons or materials" hosted by OPCW, took place in the Hague in May 2011. A report on inter-agency coordination in the event of a terrorist attack using chemical or biological weapons or materials was launched in November 2011.

Documents:

Interagency Coordination in the Event of a Terrorist Attack Using Chemical or Biological Weapons or Materials
CTITF Working Group Report, Aug 2011

Interagency Coordination in the event of a Nuclear or Radiological Terrorist Attack: Current Status, Future Prospects - Working Group Report
CTITF Working Group Report, Aug 2010

CTITF Entities: