IAEA Meeting on Radioactive Materials Trafficking

More than 90 member states have representatives taking part in the meeting in Vienna, Austria this week to discuss how to share information better about trafficking incidents.

A meeting of member state representatives to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) this week is aimed at improving how states share information about incidents involving illegal trafficking and other unauthorized activities and events involving nuclear material and other radioactive material.

Illegal trafficking of nuclear and other radioactive materials remains of serious concern, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which said July 24 that its illicit trafficking database (ITDB) contains more than 2,200 confirmed incidents reported to IAEA by the international community since 1995. "Most of these incidents involve radioactive materials that could cause harm if used by terrorists or handled innocently by people who are unaware that the materials are radioactive," the agency said in a release. "A small portion of the incidents involve uranium and plutonium -- materials that if acquired in sufficient quantity by terrorists could be used to make a nuclear explosive."

Some incidents involve low-risk materials, such as inadvertent transportation of radioactively contaminated scrap metals. While 116 states have joined the ITDB program, IAEA urges more to participate. IAEA's Office of Nuclear Security rapidly shares incident information to participants, and IAEA analyzes the data to identify trends and patterns in reported incidents so participating states can improve their security.

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