Friday, January 23, 2009

Poland involved in nuclear material trafficking

An agreement between Poland and the United States regarding the deterrence, detection and interdiction of nuclear materials, known as the “Second Line of Defense” program, has been signed by the US Ambassador to Poland, Victor Ashe, and the Polish Deputy Ministers of the Interior and Finance.

In accordance with the US’ National Nuclear Security Administration’s program, Poland will receive new equipment to detect radioactive materials at border crossings. The program also provides education for border guards and customs officials.

“For the last ten years, thanks to the Second Line of Defense program, we have been able to strengthen the possibilities for many countries’ detection and prevention capabilities regarding radioactive material,” stated Ashe.

The Ambassador added that the new agreement simply intensifies the US and Poland’s cooperation in this area. “The threat of smuggling radioactive material by terrorists is not a figment of Hollywood’s imagination – it really can happen,” added Ashe.

“We have come upon a superb project which gives us the chance to enhance security not only in Poland but also on a global scale,” said Deputy Minister of the Interior and Administration, Adam Rapacki. He added that thanks to cooperation with the US, Polish border guards and customs officials were involved in a large action that isolated radioactive material on Polish soil in the 1990s.

“One would think that this is an imaginary phenomenon, one for the movies, but, I have to say that I personally lead such operations throughout the ’90s in which we seized numerous quantities of radioactive material – uranium and radioactive cesium particles specifically . Then, there were no sophisticated controls at borders, so today we have decided upon increased security measures,” assured Rapacki.

Deputy Finance Minister and head of customs, Robert Kapica, added that Poland is in a position to help trans-border threats and is committed to fighting against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Kapica stated that Poland joined the Second Line of Defense program when the International Atomic Energy Agency started to note the increase in incidents relating to the illegal transfer of nuclear materials across borders.

Poland has been a part of the bi-lateral and multi-party program since 2003. An additional program that Poland participates in is the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. Since 2006, Polish sea ports and cargo docks have been participating in the Container Security Initiative.