On 16-17 July 2019, a UNICRI Team went to Beirut to discuss and consult with the Lebanese authorities responsible for preventing the trafficking of radiological and nuclear (RN) material. The visit was conducted within the framework of the project CONTACT – Enhancing capacities to prevent the trafficking of radiological and nuclear material in the Middle East. This regional project is funded by ‘Global Affairs Canada’.
CONTACT is the first project in the Middle East that focuses on intelligence operations to counter RN illicit trafficking. Previous international projects have concentrated efforts on the provision and use of radiation detection equipment to identify illicit trafficking. However, the “human factor” is of equal importance, as demonstrated by the fact that the majority of successful seizures of radiological and nuclear material is attributable to soundly planned and executed intelligence operations. With the CONTACT project, UNICRI is working with countries in the Middle East to share good practices and reinforce capabilities to effectively and carefully plan intelligence and law enforcement operations as well as the exchange of information.
Lebanon has developed extensive capabilities and innovative mechanisms for inter-agency coordination in the area of nuclear security under the leadership of the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear National Committee, chaired by Dr. Bilal Nsouli . The consultations between UNICRI and the Lebanese authorities focused on the development of a training curricula and the set up of an Inter-agency Training Team responsible for training the relevant agencies.
The CONTACT – Middle East project complements the efforts of the Middle East countries and UNICRI by serving as an implementing partner of the European Union CBRN Risk Mitigation Centres of Excellence initiative (EU CBRN CoE). Since its inception in 2010, the EU CBRN CoE has supported partner countries in establishing National CBRN Teams, in building capacities on CBRN safety and security and in developing National CBRN Action Plans.