News / Europe

Governments Warn of Nuclear Terrorism Threat

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano gestures during a conference on nuclear safety at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria, July 1, 2013.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano gestures during a conference on nuclear safety at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria, July 1, 2013.
Reuters
More action is needed to prevent militants acquiring plutonium or highly-enriched uranium that could be used in bombs, governments agreed at a meeting on nuclear security in Vienna on Monday, without deciding on any concrete steps.
 
A declaration adopted by more than 120 states at the meeting said “substantial progress” had been made in recent years to improve nuclear security globally, but it was not enough.
 
Analysts say radical groups could theoretically build a crude but deadly nuclear bomb if they had the money, technical knowledge and materials needed.
 
Ministers remained “concerned about the threat of nuclear and radiological terrorism ... More needs to be done to further strengthen nuclear security worldwide”, the statement said.
 
The document “encouraged” states to take various measures such as minimizing the use of highly-enriched uranium, but some diplomats said they would have preferred firmer commitments.
 
Many countries regard nuclear security as a sensitive political issue that should be handled primarily by national authorities. This was reflected in the statement's language.
 
Still, Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which hosted the conference, said the agreement was “very robust” and represented a major step forward.
 
Radical groups'`nuclear ambitions'
 
Amano earlier warned the IAEA-hosted conference against a “false sense of security” over the danger of nuclear terrorism.
 
Holding up a small lead container that was used to try to traffic highly-enriched uranium in Moldova two years ago, the U.N. nuclear chief said it showed a “worrying level of knowledge on the part of the smugglers”.
 
“This case ended well,” he said, referring to the fact that the material was seized and arrests were made. But he added: “We cannot be sure if such cases are just the tip of the iceberg.”
 
Obtaining weapons-grade fissile material - highly-enriched uranium or plutonium - poses the biggest challenge for militant groups, so it must be kept secure both at civilian and military facilities, experts say.
 
An apple-sized amount of plutonium in a nuclear device and detonated in a highly-populated area could instantly kill or wound hundreds of thousands of people, according to the Nuclear Security Governance Experts Group (NSGEG) lobby group.
 
But experts say a so-called “dirty bomb” is a more likely threat than a nuclear bomb. In a dirty bomb, conventional explosives are used to disperse radiation from a radioactive source, which can be found in hospitals or other places that are generally not very well protected.
 
More than a hundred incidents of thefts and other unauthorized activities involving nuclear and radioactive material are reported to the IAEA every year, Amano said.
 
“Some material goes missing and is never found,” he said.
 
U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said al-Qaida was still likely to be trying to obtain nuclear material for a weapon.
 
“Despite the strides we have made in dismantling core al-Qaida we should expect its adherents ... to continue trying to achieve their nuclear ambitions,” he said.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs