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

    US, Allies Discuss Next Steps in Islamic State Fight

    Meeting comes a day after US Navy SEAL was killed while fighting Islamic State forces in northern Iraq

    In China, Traditional Banks Fight Challenge From Internet Firms

    Internet companies lent more than $150 billion to customers in 2015, which is an extremely small amount compared to the much larger lending by commercial banks last year

    Trump Faces Tough Presidential Odds Against Clinton

    Numerous national election surveys show former secretary of state defeating presumptive Republican nominee with tough talk to halt illegal immigration and temporarily block Muslims from entering country

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora