International Conference on Illicit Nuclear Trafficking: Collective Experience and the Way Forward

19-22 November 2007
Edinburgh, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Organized by the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

Hosted by the
Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Announcement and Call for Papers


Considerable concern over the illicit trafficking of nuclear material began in the early 1990s following a number of incidents involving the seizure of highly enriched uranium. After 11 September 2001, there was growing government and public concern that nuclear and other radioactive material may fall into the hands of terrorists or criminals who could use it for malicious purposes. The IAEA Illicit Trafficking Database (ITDB) now contains more than 1000 confirmed reports on incidents involving smuggling, theft, loss and illegal disposal, illegal possession and transfer, and attempted illegal sales of the material. Additionally, around 800 additional incidents are as yet unconfirmed. This Conference will examine the threat and context of illicit nuclear trafficking of radioactive material , what is being done to combat such trafficking and where more needs to be done.

States increasingly recognize their responsibility to control unauthorized movement of radioactive material. Efforts are made to secure national borders through the installation of radiation detection equipment and to ensure that frontline officers have adequate training and support to deal with and respond to seizures and detection alarms. During recent years, dramatic improvements have been seen in equipment and methodologies used for detecting and characterizing illicitly trafficked material. Also more attention has been focused on increasing the security of transport of nuclear and other radioactive material.

The IAEA through the Nuclear Security Plan for 2006–2009 (Plan), established an overarching goal to contribute to strengthened nuclear security worldwide. The Plan builds on recent achievements in strengthening the international legal instruments that are relevant to nuclear security. A key function of the Plan is to establish an internationally accepted nuclear security framework of recommendations and guides including for the detection of and response to thefts and losses, unlawful possession and trafficking, illegal disposal and criminal and unauthorized use of nuclear and other radioactive material. International consensus guidance documents are disseminated through a new IAEA Nuclear Security Series of publications. The Plan further provides for activities that include assessment and evaluation services, technical advice, human resource development programmes and — to a limited extent —needed technical equipment.

Additionally, a wide range of bilateral and multilateral initiatives to combat illicit trafficking are being implemented. These include security of radioactive material cargo shipped around the world and enhanced port security to minimize the risk of radioactive material being illegally transported from State to State. These initiatives aim at detecting any transport containing nuclear weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and are designed to contribute to preventing the illegal movement of radioactive material that could be used by non-State actors for malicious purposes.

International Instruments

The international community has taken important steps to strengthen the platform of international instruments of relevance for nuclear security. These instruments contain obligations of direct relevance for combating illicit nuclear trafficking. The Conference will look at how these obligations and political commitments are being implemented by different States.

The obligations contained in the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) require States Parties to make the intentional commission of an act which constitutes the carrying, sending or moving of nuclear material into or out of a State without the lawful authority, a punishable offence under its national law. The CPPNM also obliges States Parties to ensure that peaceful nuclear transports, domestic or international, are adequately secured. Another important obligation is the need for expanded cooperation between States Parties and the IAEA regarding rapid measures to locate and recover stolen or smuggled nuclear material and for guidance on how to implement certain obligations of the CPPNM.

The obligations contained in the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism make a punishable offence the unlawful and intentional possession and use of radioactive materials for malicious purposes which is also of relevance to combating illicit nuclear trafficking. States Parties are obliged to make every effort to prevent the offences and to protect the material, taking into account relevant recommendations and functions of the IAEA.

UN Security Council resolution 1540 requires all States to develop and maintain appropriate effective border controls and law enforcement efforts to detect, deter, prevent and combat illicit trafficking and brokering in nuclear weapons, and also to implement national export and trans-shipment controls over such items.

Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources recognizes the need for effective and continuous regulatory control to reduce the vulnerability of radioactive sources during transport and for the State to take due care in authorizing experts. It also provides a number of recommendations on measures States should take in controlling the import and export of radioactive sources.

Guidance on the Import and Export of Radioactive Sources was developed to provide guidance on implementing the import and export provisions of the Code of Conduct. This non-legally binding guidance provides a common framework that States may apply to all radioactive sources.

The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy recognizes the importance of instituting measures which are aimed at addressing conditions conducive to illicit trafficking and the need to step up efforts to improve border and customs controls in order to prevent and detect the illicit trafficking of nuclear and radioactive material.


The Conference is being convened to review the global experience in combating illicit trafficking and to consider a possible international strategy to prevent, detect and respond to this phenomenon. For that purpose, the appropriate experts and policy officials will be brought together to share knowledge and information about progress achieved, to examine the threats and risks involved in nuclear trafficking and to recommend a better way forward to thwart illicit trafficking. The specific objectives of the conference are:
  • To examine the risks and threats of illicit trafficking of radioactive material
  • To better understand current and future patterns and trends in the illicit trafficking of radioactive material
  • To determine progress on efforts to establish detection capabilities at borders and to exchange information on developments in detection technology and response methodologies
  • To strengthen existing networks and cooperation for sharing information on illicit trafficking
  • To examine how an enhanced export/import regime can assist in combating illicit trafficking
  • To share information on activities intended to implement international obligations, recommendations and guidance relevant to nuclear security
  • To suggest actions by which the international effort, through the IAEA, would be strengthened.


The Conference will be appropriate for a wide range of senior representatives and experts from nuclear regulatory, security, intelligence, justice, border control, and law enforcement organizations. It will also be suitable for specialists in radiation detection technologies and for representatives of international and specialized United Nations organizations. Participants should be directly involved in activities related to combating or dealing with the consequences of illicit trafficking and/or have expert knowledge in establishing capabilities or support systems related to illicit trafficking.


The detailed programme will include the following themes:

The Threat of Illicit Trafficking

This theme is expected to include discussions of: threats and risks associated with illicit nuclear trafficking; the analysis and evaluation of related information; how the information may be applied to identify threats, patterns and trends, and vulnerabilities. Consideration will be given to how the knowledge can be better shared within the regulatory, enforcement and intelligence circles.

Establishing Capabilities to Combat Illicit Trafficking

This theme is expected to include the experiences of States in organizing and implementing activities and programmes dealing with detecting the unauthorized movement of radioactive material at borders or other locations. It will include: national experiences in establishing border monitoring capabilities; the use of integrated national detection systems; questions related to maintenance and sustainability; and quality control as part of the operation of these detection and monitoring systems. Time will be assigned for an exchange of information on detection and monitoring technologies and their applications.

Interdiction or Seizure of Radioactive Material

This theme will include the subjects related to interdiction or seizure of radioactive material, including nuclear forensics programmes and experience for the identification and characterization of confiscated radioactive materials.

Implementing International Instruments and National Efforts

Progress in implementing the legally binding and non-binding instruments which contain obligations of relevance for combating illicit nuclear trafficking will be a thematic subject of the Conference. National efforts to establish legislation, regulations and the required human resource programmes, and also establishing technical capabilities will be discussed. Proposals and suggestions to accelerate the implementation and the establishment of the required national capabilities will be made.
Export/Import Mechanisms
The theme Export/Import Mechanisms will be devoted to consideration of the contribution of import/export controls to combating illicit trafficking and the ways that they are being implemented and strengthened at the national level.

International Initiatives and Efforts

This theme will include experience of and results from the implementation of specific national and international initiatives which relate to combat illicit nuclear trafficking e.g.: The EU Strategy against the Spread of WMD; G-8 Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction; The US Megaports Initiative; Proliferation Security Initiative; and, the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.

Security of Transport

This theme will include experience and progress in establishing effective transport security and how it contributes to the global scheme of efforts to combat illicit nuclear trafficking.

Strengthening the IAEA Nuclear Security Programme Implementation and its Role

The IAEA Nuclear Security Plan for 2006–2009 emphasizes measures to establish and enhance the capabilities of States to detect, interdict and respond to illegal acts involving nuclear and other radioactive material and associated facilities. The IAEA Nuclear Security Series provides international consensus guidance to assist States in their efforts to detect and respond to unlawful use/possession of nuclear and other radioactive material; and to establish effective nuclear security at major public events. IAEA’s role in coordinating these activities with the participation of States will be discussed.

Concluding Session

At the concluding session, the session chairs will summarize the results and conclusions from their sessions and panel discussions. The President of the Conference will convey his/her conclusions of the Conference and highlight suggestions for the way forward to strengthen the fight against illicit nuclear trafficking.


A limited amount of space will be available for commercial vendors’ displays/exhibits during the Conference on a first come basis . Interested parties should contact the scientific secretariat by e-mail: An expression of interest should include information about the products to be exhibited and an estimate of the space required .


All persons wishing to participate in the conference are requested to register in advance online via the conference web page:

In addition they must send a completed Participation Form (Form A) and, if relevant, the Paper Submission Form (Form B) and the Grant Application Form (Form C) to the competent national authority (see Section 8) for subsequent transmission to the IAEA . A participant will be accepted only if the Participation Form is transmitted through the competent national authority of a Member State of the IAEA or by an organization invited to participate.

Participants whose official designation has been received by the IAEA will receive further information on the Conference approximately three months prior to the Conference. This information will also be posted on the Conference web page .


Concise papers on issues falling within the topics outlined in the section above may be submitted as contributions to the conference. All papers, apart from invited papers, must present original work; they should not have been published elsewhere.

(a) Submission of synopses

Persons who wish to present a paper or poster at the conference must submit an extended synopsis (in English) of 800 words maximum (i.e. two A4 format pages of single spaced typing or the equivalent, including any tables or diagrams and a few pertinent references) together with the completed Form for Submission of a Paper (Form B), and the Participation Form (Form A). The extended synopsis and the forms must be sent to the competent official authority (see Section 6) for transmission to the IAEA in time for them to be received by the IAEA by 29 June 2007. In addition, the synopsis should be sent electronically to the Scientific Secretariat, Mr. Bernard Weiss, email: . The synopsis should give enough information on the contents of the proposed paper to enable the selection committee to evaluate it. Introductory and general matters should not be included.

Authors are urged to make use of the Synopsis Template in Word 2000 on the conference web page (see Section 16 for web site address). The specifications and instructions for preparing the synopsis and how to use the synopsis template are given in the attached instructions on “How to prepare the synopsis and how to submit it electronically”. Also attached is a “sample extended synopsis”.

The synopsis will be considered only if the Participation Form A and Paper Submission Form B have been received by the IAEA through the official governmental channels or one of the cooperating organizations.

(b) Acceptance of papers/posters

In order to provide ample time for discussion, the number of papers that can be accepted for oral presentation is limited. If the number of relevant and high quality papers submitted for selection exceeds the acceptable number, some of them will be selected for poster presentation.

Authors will be informed by the end of July 2007 whether their papers have been accepted by the Programme Committee on the basis of the synopsis submitted. At the same time authors will be advised if their paper has been accepted for oral presentation or for presentation as a poster. Furthermore, those authors who are asked to prepare full papers for publication in the proceedings will receive guidelines for the preparation of papers. However, all of the accepted synopses will be reproduced in unedited form in the Book of Extended Synopses which will be distributed at registration.

(c) Submission of full papers

Full papers have to be submitted to the Conference Secretariat, Mr. Bernie Weiss, email: by September 2007.

(d) Proceedings

Proceedings of the conference will be published after the Conference. The IAEA reserves the right to refuse the presentation or publication of any paper that does not meet the expectations raised by the information originally given in the extended synopsis.


No registration fee is charged to participants. As a general rule, the IAEA does not pay for participants’ travel and living expenses. However, limited funds are available to help meet the cost of attendance of selected specialists, mainly those from developing countries with low economic resources. Generally not more than one travel grant may be awarded to any one country.

If governments wish to apply for a grant on behalf of one of their specialists, they should address specific requests to the IAEA to this effect. Governments should ensure that applications for grants:

(a) be submitted by 29 June 2007;
(b) be accompanied by a duly completed and signed Grant Application Form (Form C).
Applications that do not comply with the conditions mentioned under (a) and (b) cannot be considered. The grants will be lump sums usually covering only part of the cost of attendance.


The Participation Form (Form A), the Form for Submission of a Paper (Form B), together with a copy of each synopsis, and, if applicable, the Grant Application Form (Form C), should be sent to the competent official authority (Ministry of Foreign Affairs or National Atomic Energy Authority) or to one of the cooperating organizations for transmission to the IAEA.
Subsequent correspondence on scientific matters should be sent to the Scientific Secretariat and correspondence on administrative matters to the IAEA Conference Services Section (see section 14).


A preliminary programme of the Conference will be sent to all officially designated participants well in advance of the Conference and will also be available on the IAEA conference web page (see Section 15).

The Final Programme and the Book of Contributed Papers will be available free of charge upon registration at the Conference.

The proceedings of the Conference, to be published by the IAEA, will contain welcoming addresses, overview presentations, rapporteur reports, invited keynote papers, session summaries, the conclusions presented by the President of the Conference on the last day and records of the discussions. The contributed papers will be included as a CD-ROM. The proceedings can be ordered, at a special discounted price, during the conference.


The working language of the conference will be English. All communications, abstracts and papers must be sent to the IAEA in English.


Detailed information on accommodation and other items will be sent directly to all officially designated participants approximately two to three months before the conference. This information will also be available on the IAEA conference web page as soon as possible.


Designated participants who require a visa to enter the United Kingdom should submit the necessary application to the nearest diplomatic or consular representative of the United Kingdom as soon as possible. Please note that the procedure could take up to three weeks.


(a) Scientific Secretariat (IAEA)

Mr Bernard Weiss
Office of Nuclear Security
International Atomic Energy Agency
Wagramer Strasse 5
P.O. Box 100
A-1400 Vienna, Austria
Telephone No.: (+43) 1-2600-21955 (B. Weiss)
Fax No.: (+43) 1-2600-29299

(b) Administrative and Organization (IAEA)

Ms Julie Zellinger
Conference Services Section
International Atomic Energy Agency
Wagramer Strasse 5
P.O. Box 100
A-1400 Vienna, Austria
Telephone No.: (+43) 1-2600-21303
Fax No.: (+43) 1-26007
General mail for IAEA:


Please visit the IAEA conference web page regularly for new information regarding this conference under:

For purposes of this conference, radioactive material means, nuclear material, as defined in the Convention on the Physical Protection of Radioactive Material, radioactive sources, as defined in the Code of Conduct for the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources and other radioactive substances which contain nuclides.