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Draft CRTDE opinion: Illicit traffic in radioactive substances and nuclear materials

The European Parliament Committee on Research, Technological Development and Energy (CRTDE) has published its draft opinion on the Commission communication on "The illicit traffic in radioactive substances and nuclear materials". The communication aims to improve safeguards o...

The European Parliament Committee on Research, Technological Development and Energy (CRTDE) has published its draft opinion on the Commission communication on "The illicit traffic in radioactive substances and nuclear materials". The communication aims to improve safeguards on nuclear materials in countries affected by the illegal traffic, in particular by coordinating relevant Community instruments, and by preventing such materials entering the Community by measures permitting seizure at external frontiers. It also aims to reinforce cooperation between all the countries concerned. In the Committee's opinion, the following possibilities for resolving the problem should be examined: - Commission support for cooperation activities related to Euratom safeguards and those which may result in the creation of nuclear materials' accounting and physical protection structures in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the NIS; - The development in the countries concerned of databases relating to plutonium reprocessed in nuclear programmes and enriched uranium, as well as the determination of reliable means of handling such materials, complemented by an information exchange system ensuring simultaneous alerts when contraband is discovered; - The type of contribution which could be made by the Joint Research Centre, which is responsible for radiological protection and the safeguard controls for implementing emergency plans for dealing with possible risks of radioactive contamination; - Support for R&D with a view to extending the application of safeguard principles to nuclear materials by using ad hoc detention and measuring technique instruments at certain strategic points; - The establishment of a complete inventory of enriched uranium and plutonium existing in the NIS and Central and Eastern European countries, together with an assessment by the Euratom Supply Agency of the likely cost to the Union of purchasing the stocks listed; - An assessment of the opportunities offered by existing technology for eliminating stocks of enriched uranium and plutonium by fusion or transmutation of actinides; - A comparison of the legislation of all the Member States concerning action against contraband in nuclear materials and the classification of such contraband as a crime.