The Global Initiative To Combat Nuclear Terrorism

The Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) was announced by the US and Russia in July 2006 and subsequently endorsed by G8 leaders at the St. Petersburg Summit in 2007. Canada joined as an initial partner nation.

The GICNT is a multilateral effort to strengthen international frameworks to counter nuclear and radiological terrorism. It is not a legally-binding treaty instrument but rather a voluntary undertaking by a group of like-minded countries similar to the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). The intent is to focus on concrete operational-level cooperation based on a Statement of Principles, a document which was formulated in October 2006.

The Principles focus on strengthening cooperation in eight areas:

  • protection systems;
  • security of civilian nuclear facilities;
  • detection and prevention of illicit trafficking;
  • capabilities for search, seizure and control over unlawfully held material;
  • capabilities for response, mitigation and investigation of terrorist attacks;
  • prevention of the provision of safe haven or resources to terrorists;
  • national legal and regulatory frameworks; and
  • information sharing.

Given the global nature of the nuclear terrorism threat, the success of the initiative hinges on broad participation. Over 70 countries have committed to the GICNT principles. Additionally, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) participates as an observer and plays an important role in contributing technical resources and expertise. The Global Initiative’s program of work is shaped by activities which partner nations wish to support, such as hosting technical workshops or seminars, disseminating best practices, and sharing of expertise. 

Canadian Position

The prospect of nuclear terrorism represents a serious threat to Canadian and international security and Canada’s active participation in the GICNT is among the means we address this threat. For instance, in June 2008, Canada hosted a workshop on the security of radiological sources for over 100 representatives of the Initiative’s members. The GICNT complements our other international security activities related to countering potential nuclear terrorism, For example, Canada is working bilaterally, through the IAEA, and with third parties to improve the physical protection, control and accountancy of nuclear and other radioactive materials in a number of former Soviet republics. Additionally, through the Global Partnership Program, which was launched at the G8 meeting in Kananaskis in 2002, Canada has committed up to $1 billion to prevent the acquisition of weapons and materials of mass destruction by terrorists or those who harbour them.