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EU measures to halt illegal trafficking in nuclear materials

There has been widespread concern about the problem of the illegal trade in nuclear materials and radioactive substances since 1992. The European Commission has now adopted a communication presenting the actions undertaken since 1994 in this regard, further to the Moscow Summi...
There has been widespread concern about the problem of the illegal trade in nuclear materials and radioactive substances since 1992. The European Commission has now adopted a communication presenting the actions undertaken since 1994 in this regard, further to the Moscow Summit on security and nuclear safety on 20 April 1996.

The communication comes as a result of an earlier Commission communication, in September 1994, on an overall European strategy to halt illegal trafficking in nuclear materials and radioactive substances, and the conclusions of the Essen European Council in December 1994. The new communication reports on the measures taken to date to implement the European strategy and the Council's conclusions.

In particular, the EU has worked to improve safeguards on nuclear materials by encouraging all States to place sensitive materials (plutonium and enriched uranium) for civilian use under international control and to push for universal application of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Commission and the Member States have also worked closely with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Euratom's Safeguards Directorate has continued to implement a programme of cooperation with the Russian Federation to develop a modern nuclear materials accountancy and control system. The Joint Research Centre plays a key role in this cooperation, while PHARE and TACIS funding is also available for training in nuclear materials controls and accountancy.

Liaison is maintained with the Member States on all these activates and operations, while cooperation with the USA is primarily designed to prevent duplication of effort and make the best use of the financial resources provided by the two parties.

In the field of radioprotection, the emphasis has been placed on harmonizing national regulations on the import of radioactive substances, civil protection measures in the individual Member States, and the provision of information to the public and to professionals who may risk exposure. Training programmes for professionals have been set up with Commission support.

Customs cooperation is also extremely important. An intra-Community programme has been set up to implement tighter controls at external frontiers and measures to combat trafficking in the framework of cooperation with Central and Eastern Europe, the CIS and the USA based on the PHARE and TACIS programmes, protocols of mutual assistance and customs cooperation agreements.
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