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

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid