RNTPU GP Newsletter

The Radiological and Nuclear Terrorism Threat

For decades, nuclear and other radioactive materials have benefited society through their use in medicine, agriculture, industry, and energy provision. However, as their use and numbers increase so does their availability and vulnerability. There is a risk that non-state actors could obtain nuclear or other radioactive materials for use in terrorism or other criminal acts.

INTERPOL's Radiological and Nuclear Terrorism Prevention Unit: Our Law Enforcement Support Programme

INTERPOL's Radiological and Nuclear Terrorism Prevention Unit, commonly referred to as RNTPU, strives to support the development of an informed, capable, and globally connected law enforcement community able to counter and investigate radioactive material criminality from malicious non-state actors. Our Law Enforcement Support (LES) programme utilizes a criminal intelligence-driven approach, and identifies high priority, member countries and regions to implement projects or activities that work towards this goal. The LES programme focuses on four strategic objectives:


Increase Intelligence Sharing








The foundation of RNTPU’s work is the facilitation of police data- and information-sharing among law enforcement agencies. For RNTPU, this specifically means police data- and information-sharing on material vulnerabilities, crimes, criminals, and terrorists related to radioactive material threats.

This information exchange is vital to supporting the investigative efforts of our member countries. Using a criminal intelligence-driven approach, RNTPU identifies intelligence gaps and targets its efforts to enhance this sharing. One way we do this is through RNTPU-led regional working groups, known as Geiger Working Groups, in the Black Sea, Caucuses & Central Asia and South East Asia, with one additional region planned for 2021.  Each group consists of representatives from national police, intelligence services, investigators prosecutors and regulators from the respective countries. Facilitated discussions focus on increasing information on incidents, investigations, emerging trends and crimes involving radiological and nuclear material. For countries outside the scope of existing Geiger Working Groups, we engage them bilaterally to encourage enhanced cooperation and information-sharing. We also partner with key international organisations that contribute to the information sharing process.

Delivering Targeted Analysis & Investigative Support

In support of our member countries, RNTPU collates and assesses data and produces analytical reports to support law enforcement agencies' attempts to identify malicious individuals and networks, support investigations, harden targets, and enact countermeasures.

Some of our activities in this area include the maintenance of our internal radiological and nuclear Risk Index, which comprises multiple open-source data sets that address radioactive material availability, movability, and terrorist threats around the world. We also provide support to national intelligence-led investigations upon request through facilitating the exchange of intelligence between member countries on materials, crimes, criminals and terrorists related to radioactive material threats. We liaise with member countries to help identify suspects and locations of interest and produce analytical reporting on criminality involving radioactive material. To support member countries, RNTPU experts also facilitate the development, peer review and publication of INTERPOL Notices relevant to radioactive materials.

Increase Law Enforcement Capacity

Through our capacity building activities RNTPU supports member countries and engages internal and external subject matter experts to address areas of improvement and increase capacity. In select high priority member countries, RNTPU, in concert with the respective INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB), hosts and implements a multi-stage capacity building process.  Countries currently engaged in this process are, Algeria, Colombia, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, and Malaysia. Following a needs assessment, RNTPU staff and subject matter experts lead training courses and coordinate activities and meetings that directly address a country's needs critical to an effective national capability to prevent, detect, and investigate crimes involving radioactive materials.  We additionally support member countries where training is not a viable solution through leveraging our global network to identify an external donor or international organisation to bring support where necessary, such as purchasing equipment. In this role, we serve as the coordinating body between the member country and the external donor to ensure the equipment addresses the identified improvement area.

Engage Effectively at the International Level

Through this objective we ensure that global law enforcement is part of crucial decision-making processes relevant to our mission. As we engage with high priority countries and regions, we are well positioned to facilitate national support through multilateral processes such as the valued G7 Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, or to act as law enforcement experts to support the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency, United Nations Office of Counter Terrorism, World Customs Organization and Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.

We help coordinate responses from the global law enforcement community in a rapidly changing radiological and nuclear security architecture. When necessary, RNTPU will leverage our global network to build awareness and seek feedback and perspectives.

Not only is this security architecture rapidly changing, but it is also complex, with international and regional organizations serving important roles in inter alia emergency management and response, information-sharing, and peaceful uses of relevant technologies. Against this context, several key areas relate directly to the role of law enforcement. In partnership with our NCBs and member countries, we remain steadfast in our representation of law enforcement where needed.

Major Donor Working Group: Coordinated Support

RNTPU's Law Enforcement Support (LES) programme would not be possible without the valued support of our donors.  From the US Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Security Detection and Deterrence (NSDD), Office of Radiological Security (ORS) and International Nuclear Security (INS), US Department of State Office of Weapons of Mass Destructions Terrorism together with Global Affairs Canada and UK Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, donors work in tandem to bring our programme to life. While each donor has their individual scope, our LES programme offers sufficient flexibility to meet the needs of both our donors and member countries.

This process, known as the Major Donor Working Group (MDWG), supports continuous dialogue, coordination and innovation. In addition to important decision-making matters on implementing our programme, the MDWG also allows for strategic dialogue in forums such as the G7 Global partnership, on how best to address key issues on global nuclear security that fall within the law enforcement mandate. This collaborative approach and support to the LES programme delivers greater value.

For any queries on the MDWG or any part of the LES programme, please contact

[1] Page 5, IAEA Nuclear Security Fundamentals // IAEA NUCLEAR SECURITY SERIES No. 20 // "OBJECTIVE AND ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF A STATE'S NUCLEAR SECURITY REGIME", "These systems and measures should include those for the export, import, and for border control of nuclear material and other radioactive material"