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REPORT     
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1 March 1996
PE 214.162/fin. A4-0066/96
on the Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament, 'The illicit traffic in radioactive substances and nuclear materials'
(COM(94)0383 - C4-0227/94)
Committee on Civil Liberties and Internal Affairs
Rapporteur: Mr Martin Schulz
By letter of 20 September 1995 the Commission forwarded to the Council and the European Parliament the Communication 'The illicit traffic in radioactive substances and nuclear materials'.
 A MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION
 B. EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 O P I N I O N
 O P I N I O N
 OPINION
 O P I N I O N

 By letter of 20 September 1995 the Commission forwarded to the Council and the European Parliament the Communication 'The illicit traffic in radioactive substances and nuclear materials'.

At the sitting of 30 November 1995 the President of Parliament announced that he had referred the communication to the Committee on Civil Liberties and Internal Affairs as the committee responsible and to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Security and Defence Policy, the Committee on Research, Technological Development and Energy, the Committee on External Economic Relations and the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Protection for their

opinions.

At its meeting of 1 February 1995 the Committee on Civil Liberties and Internal Affairs appointed Mr Schulz rapporteur.

At its meetings of 23/24 May, 5/6 September, 11 December 1995, 22/23 January and 20/21 February 1996 it considered the communication and the draft report.

At the latter/last meeting it adopted the motion for a resolution by 12 votes to 2, with 16 abstentions.

The following were present for the vote: Marinho, chairman; Bontempi, vice-chairman; Schulz, rapporteur; d'Ancona, André-Léonard (for Wiebenga pursuant to Rule 138(2)), Blokland (for de Villiers pursuant to Rule 138(2)), Caccavale, Camison Asensio, Cederschiöld, D'Andrea, Donnelly B., Elliott, Ford, Girao Pereira, Gomolka, Haarder, Lambraki, Lambrias, Lehne, Linzer, Nassauer, Newman, Oostlander, Orlando, Pradier, Posselt, Roth, Terron í Cusí, Van Dijk (for Lindholm pursuant to Rule 138(2)), Van Lancker, Wemheuer and Zimmermann.

The opinions of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Security and Defence Policy, Committee on Research, Technological Development and Energy, Committee on External Economic Relations and the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Protection are attached.

The report was tabled on 1 March 1996.

The deadline for tabling amendments will appear in the draft agenda for the relevant part-session.


 A MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION

Resolution on the Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament, 'The illicit traffic in radioactive substances and nuclear materials'

The European Parliament,

- having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community,

- having regard to the principles underlying the provisions on cooperation in the fields of justice and home affairs laid down in the Treaty on European Union,

- having regard to the principles underlying the provisions on the common foreign and security policy laid down in the Treaty on European Union,

- having regard to the Council joint action of 10 March 1995 concerning the Europol Drugs Unit(1),

- having regard to the Convention signed by the Member States on 26 July 1995 on the establishment of a European Police Office (Europol Convention)(2),

- having regard to the Convention signed by the Member States on 26 July 1995 on the use of information technology for customs purposes2,

- having regard to the Commission Communication to the Council and the European Parliament (COM(94)0383 - C3-0227/94),

- having regard to the report of the Committee on Civil Liberties and Internal Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Security and Defence Policy, Committee on Research, Technological Development and Energy, Committee on External Economic Relations and the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Protection (A4-0066/96),

A. whereas the combating of fraud at international level, where this is not covered by Article K.1(7), (8) and (9), is one of the areas of cooperation in the fields of justice and home affairs, in which the Commission has a right of initiative,

B. whereas judicial cooperation in the sphere of the criminal law and police cooperation to prevent and combat terrorism and other forms of serious crime, if necessary including certain aspects of customs cooperation, is also one of the areas of cooperation in the fields of justice and home affairs in connection with the development of a Union-wide system for the exchange of information in the framework of Europol,

C. whereas large amounts of nuclear material, manufactured both for civil and military purposes, are available around the world,

D. whereas criminal activities are increasingly being organized at international level, so that it is possible that organized crime will become involved in illicit nuclear trafficking, although there is no conclusive proof that this is yet the case,

E. whereas, although it must be assumed that there is some undesirable demand for nuclear materials, there is as yet no sign or proof that a buyers' market exists, and no public announcement to that effect has been made by the police authorities, and whereas, with the exception of a case engineered by the German authorities in Munich, no single completed sellerto-buyer deal has been reconstructed,

F. whereas the alleged illicit trafficking in nuclear materials and radioactive substances in the East and West would pose a serious danger to the internal security of the Member States, the environment, public health and international security,

G. whereas, irrespective of whether evidence is available, all the requisite steps must be taken to combat the potential and real dangers,

H. whereas the military use of nuclear materials cannot be properly monitored on the basis of the EAEC Treaty and whereas, however, Community environmental policy seeks to conserve and protect the environment and improve its quality and protect public health,

General considerations

1. Takes the view that a policy focusing on cooperation and controlled disarmament offers the best guarantee for freedom and calls on the European Union to develop programmes with the aim of converting military nuclear materials as safely as possible into less dangerous materials;

2. Calls on the Commission to assess the possibilities offered by the existing technology of eliminating the stocks of enriched uranium and plutonium by fission or transmutation of actinides, to strengthen its commitment to and financial support for programmes aimed at plutonium vitrification and at evaluating the best possible methods for the conditioning and safe long-term disposal of waste, and, in accordance with Parliament's resolution on the Green Paper for a European Union energy policy, to support nuclear disarmament by making available the knowledge and capabilities of European research institutions and industry in disposing of weapons-grade plutonium and highly enriched uranium;

3. Lastly, research should be stepped up to ensure that fission products from nuclear power stations cannot be used for military purposes since MOX (mixed oxide) is not an ideal solution. Apart from this, the basic method of producing energy needs to be reconsidered in view of the ecological danger represented by nuclear energy. This will be the major challenge for the next century.

4. Calls on the Commission, by means of a regulatory instrument, to initiate the necessary procedures ensuring a harmonized approach within the European Union Member States to the legal traffic of nuclear materials as well as to the monitoring procedures and techniques relating thereto;

5. Calls on the Commission to clarify the details of those instances of illegal traffic of nuclear material of which it is aware, giving a clear account of those cases in which there has been a commercial transaction between the supplier and the purchaser and when the Commission was informed thereof;

6. Calls on the Commission to reorganize the internal structure of those of its departments responsible for nuclear matters with the primary aim of improving efficiency, in particular as regards relations between and the respective responsibilities of Directorates-General XVII, XII, XI and IA vis-à-vis nuclear dossiers;

7. Calls on the 1996 Intergovernmental Conference to develop a clear legal basis for this within the framework of environmental policy;

8. Takes the view that a comprehensive picture of trade in radioactive and nuclear substances of all kinds could be built up through close observation of the market, that the results must be made available to the public, that as a result it will be possible to spot illicit diversion of materials earlier, and that this legally correct approach will make set-piece operations by the secret service and police superfluous, since the latter have not helped to resolve the problem, but are in fact part of the problem themselves;

9. Calls on the 1996 Intergovernmental Conference to clear the way for comprehensive Euratom monitoring of all stocks, including military stocks, and all shipments of nuclear materials on the territory of the European Union;

As regards prevention

10. Calls on the Commission to step up Community aid measures for states and/or firms which are unable to carry out adequate checks;

11. Calls on the Commission to step up its efforts to supply technical assistance to improve the monitoring of the security of nuclear materials in the CIS and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe via cooperation and training programmes, as proposed in the White Paper 'An energy policy for the European Union' adopted by the Commission;

12. Calls on the Commission to consider seriously the possibility of studying the situation of scientists and technicians in the former Soviet Union and to make provision for measures to ease the social impoverishment of scientists and technicians from the nuclear industry in the former Soviet Union;

13. Calls on the Commission, in connection with funding decisions, to examine what stage has been reached in the cooperation with the countries of Eastern Europe on the development of their own safeguards, how successful that cooperation has been, how it should be stepped up and expanded, and the resulting staff, organizational and financial requirements;

14. Calls on the Commission to draw up within six months a detailed analysis of the funding needed by Euratom Safeguards to cover technological, staff and organizational requirements;

15. Calls on the Council to draw up a report comparing the standard of physical protection in the Member States with the US systems, which are regarded as rigorous;

16. Calls on the Commission to carry out an investigation into the functioning of the services operating in the sector and to inform Parliament of the findings;

As regards crime

17. Given the wide variations in both legislative and practical terms, in the way they track down and punish the illicit trafficking of radioactive substances and nuclear materials, the Member States should be called upon to harmonize their legislation in this field without delay

18. Calls on the Council and the Member States to develop and expand Europol without delay and give it clearly-defined tasks, with particular emphasis on intelligence-gathering operations in the sphere of organized crime, the combating of terrorism, sects and the combating of nuclear crime;

19. Calls on the parliaments of the Member States which have not yet done so to embark upon ratification of the Europol Convention, to ensure that Europol is able to start its work on combating nuclear crime as soon as possible;

20. Welcomes the progress made, since the publication of the Commission communication, in police and customs cooperation, such as the signing of the Convention on the use of information technology for customs purposes, joint customs surveillance operations and the structured dialogue with third countries, together with the lines of action contained in the Gomorra declaration on terrorism;

21. Takes the view that investigations must also be carried out to establish how far government agencies of third countries are themselves involved in the illicit traffic in nuclear or radioactive substances;

22. Takes the view that the Member States should step up cooperation between their own secret services in order to combat the illicit traffic in nuclear or radioactive materials;

23. Is prepared, with a view to combating the illicit traffic in nuclear materials, to make budget appropriations available under the relevant lines, provided that Parliament is consulted in accordance with Article K.6 of the TEU;

24. Calls on the Commission to make a comparison of the existing legislation in all the Member States concerning action against contraband in nuclear materials and the classification of such contraband as a crime and to inform the European Parliament thereof;

25. Regards it as essential that the Commission and the Council regularly inform Parliament on the combating of nuclear crime, and that Parliament is consulted in accordance with Article K.6 of the TEU;

26. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the Council, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the governments and parliaments of the third countries which have applied for membership of the European Union.

(1) OJ L 62 20.03.1995
(2) OJ C 316, 27.11.1995


 B. EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

INTRODUCTION

In the last five years the number of known cases of illicit traffic in radioactive or nuclear materials has risen dramatically. Smuggling of these materials on a large scale not only represents a considerable risk to public health but also poses a threat in terms of military psychology and politics, which should not be underestimated. This development has been caused by the internationally unresolved problems in controlling and securing stocks of nuclear materials. In recent years the situation has been significantly aggravated by the collapse of the former USSR and the course of events in the former Soviet republics and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, characterized by considerable political destabilization. In addition to national responsibilities for security and physical protection, the Euratom Treaty gives that institution, as part of the structure of the European Union, a special role in ensuring security. The Commission addresses these issues in its communication of 7 September 1994, COM(94)383. The present report considers in detail the observations made in the communication and its conclusions.

THE CURRENT SITUATION

In recent months attention has been focused on the trial of those arrested following the seizure of plutonium at Munich airport on 10 August 1994. Apart from the question of criminal law and the role of national and European authorities in the case, which should be examined in more depth, the trial has been instrumental in alerting the public to the dangers of international nuclear smuggling. Certain significant trends on this illicit market are indicated below:

Cases in Germany (source: Bundeskriminalamt [Federal Criminal Police Office[):

1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

Total cases

4

41

158

241

267

fraudulent offers of sale

59

118

85

illicit traffic (no seizure)

81

102

163

illicit traffic (with seizure)

18

21

19

Seizures of plutonium or uranium of various grades in the EU (Euratom):

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995(to May)

Cases involving seizure

1 (?)

12

4

14

2

At international level, undoubtedly the most comprehensive and regular inventory of seizures of radioactive and nuclear materials has been compiled on a monthly basis since July 1994 by or on behalf of the Threat Assessment Division of the US Department of Energy.

Seizures recorded by US Department of Energy:

1989

1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995(- May)

Cases involving seizure

3

-

5

2

1

33

9

Breakdown of seizures by country (source: US Department of Energy):

Germany 11, Russia 8, Estonia 4, Hungary 3, Japan 2, Slovakia 2, Turkey 2, Austria 1, India 2, Bulgaria 4, Romania 5, Poland 1, Ukraine 1, Azerbaijan 1, South Africa 1, Italy 1, Switzerland 1, Czech Republic 1, Lithuania 1, England 1. Total 53

In May 1995, official representatives of the Russian nuclear regulatory authority, Gosatomnadzor, told delegates at a conference of experts in Aachen that in Russia alone 19 cases of theft of nuclear materials had been uncovered in the last two years. This demonstrates the crying need for credible international statistics concerning cases of illegal movement of radioactive and nuclear materials, is already apparent. Obvious from all sources consulted, however, is the massive increase in the number of incidents.

The situation reported by the Russian experts to the Aachen conference makes clear that any attempts to play down the situation are misguided. They stated that special commissions of inquiry had examined the 19 cases of theft referred to and had reported 'decreasing discipline at the facilities involved, lack of effective radiodetective devices at the gates and the checkpoints, out-of-date equipment used for physical protection, old and low quality measurement instrumentation used for accounting purposes'.

'In all cases the NMC&A (nuclear material control and accounting) systems at the facilities did not report inconsistencies or loss of materials. Present status of NMC&A as well as existing practice of inspection do not allow the timely detection of loss or diversion of nuclear materials.'(1)

What makes this conclusion all the more alarming is the quite breathtaking upsurge in criminal energy in recent years, particularly in the Russian army. In 1992 alone, there are said to have been some 40 000 cases of corruption involving members of the Russian army. In 1993 the Russian Ministry of Defence recorded 6 500 cases of theft of conventional weapons from military depots.(2) But all these observations are merely fragments of a bigger picture, the potential facets of which are apparent only in outline.

POTENTIAL USES OF THE SUBSTANCES

The potential areas of use for the roving nuclear materials that have been detected may be described as follows.

One possibility is the production of nuclear explosive devices, another the production of radiation weapons. In addition, a considerable threat is posed by the direct dispersion of radioactive substances in the air, water or food. In this context, purposes to which the material might be put lie, on the one hand, in the area of international military use - and here particular attention should be paid to the grey areas surrounding the Non-Proliferation Treaty - while on the other hand the material can obviously also be used for political and criminal blackmail within states. Terrorist organizations and criminal organizations in general are also to be considered as potential users. The example of the Aum-Shinrikio sect in Japan was a shocking demonstration of the kind of criminal impetus that can be developed if nuclear materials fall into the hands of groups who are pursuing specific objectives of psychopathic group ideology or religious fanaticism.

POSSIBLE ORIGIN OF SUBSTANCES AND POTENTIAL MARKETS

One of the principal difficulties in investigating the illegal market in nuclear materials is the identification of substances in terms of their origin. Thus one of the most important tasks for all bodies dealing with the issue must be to make clear the sources from which the market is being supplied with nuclear material, whether legally or illegally. It is therefore necessary to list the areas of origin.

Firstly there is the area of civil use. This includes reactors and production plants in the fuel cycle, but also sites for storing waste and certainly research establishments. The latter often possess a wide range of material. Euratom is responsible for several hundred civil nuclear facilities which are subject to its safeguards.

These do not include facilities which are not subject to Euratom safeguards or which, because of their military character, are subject to Euratom safeguards only on a temporary basis (mixed facilities). The total number of facilities is well in excess of the number subject to Euratom safeguards. Included in the total are, primarily, military applications: warheads, reactors for military use, military production facilities in the fuel cycle, waste storage sites under military control, military research establishments, submarines and other weapons installations with nuclear equipment. Also included is the military use of depleted uranium. This is particularly relevant in munitions, armour-plating and similar military materials.

Beyond these uses, there is the field of medicine, in which radioactive materials are used. Industries outside the nuclear field also require radioactive material, which once again is separated out. Finally, many substances used in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries are not only toxic but radioactive.

In all these areas particular scrutiny must be given to the question of recording existing stocks more precisely and monitoring how they are administered, obtained, sold, stored, transported or disposed of. In this context it is essential that everyone who is seeking to create greater transparency should take account of geopolitical viewpoints when analysing the proliferation of the materials mentioned above. In many states, including those of Central and Eastern Europe, states in Africa, South America and Asia, the greatest problems may emerge in the physical protection of facilities. However, the recording of all radioactive substances and nuclear materials and the comprehensive physical protection of the facilities in which these materials are used is also impossible in Western European states.

It should be noted here that in terms of its non-proliferation policy, the former USSR, until its collapse, was considered to be relatively consistent and successful. That illegal nuclear traffic also went on before the collapse of the USSR is evidenced by the fact that South Africa and Israel, at least, circumvented the Non-Proliferation Treaty to gain possession of the materials they needed to produce their own nuclear weapons. Pakistan and India may have done likewise. Moreover, there is evidence in a number of other countries of illegal deals in the grey areas of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Therefore, to reduce the problems to the domain of the former Soviet republics is not only to place unacceptable restrictions on the research that needs to be done, but is also a dangerous dereliction, given the explosive nature of the issue. In that respect the Communication from the Commission, with its exclusive focus on the former USSR and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, is disturbingly incomplete and tendentious. The degree of international proliferation of nuclear materials, as shown above, compels two observations:

1. The possibilities for obtaining radioactive or fissile material are manifold, and increasing.

2. Illicit traffic in such materials is not, however, a new phenomenon, but has been going on for a long time.

A survey of potential markets must therefore be considered in relation to historical developments in the international procurement and resale of such materials. Thus there is a need to scrutinize the areas in which the markets under consideration are situated. In this context the following sectors may be identified:

a. Countries, which are making official or secret efforts to acquire nuclear weapons.

It has long been apparent which countries are seeking to acquire nuclear weapons-building capability by developing their own facilities and procuring the requisite materials. Thus the attempt by Iran to acquire a reactor by means of a nuclear deal with Russia was interpreted openly by many countries as an attempt to move closer to a nuclear weapons programme. In the case of Iran specifically it is urgent that all the facts be brought to light on the European side, not least because Iran is active in many different fields in various EU Member States (and vice versa). It had been no secret that Iraq was focusing its ambitions on nuclear weapons-building. Just how close it came to realizing its objective, chiefly by exploiting illegal sources in Europe, became apparent before, during and after the Gulf War. Israel is now a nuclear power. It is quite clear that Israel too obtained the material it needed for weapons-building, via illegal channels, from Euratom's sphere of responsibility. Thus Israel was responsible for the disappearance of 200 tonnes of uranium concentrate in 1968 (the Plumbat Affair). This operation was particularly crucial for the success of the nuclear weapons programme. It is now known that South Africa possessed at least six nuclear weapons. It is quite clear that South Africa obtained both the know-how and the materials for building its nuclear weapons from Western markets, in part illegally. According to internal documents of the European Union's NPT Working Group, it is also quite clear that Pakistan is one of the states to possess nuclear weapons. Numerous illegal activities by European companies, principally in the field of procuring equipment, have assisted Pakistan to achieve nuclear weapons capability. The attitude of India towards procurement has also overstepped the bounds of legality, principally with regard to heavy water, essential to the operation of its plutonium reactors. It should be emphasized that in this connection German firms were among those prominently involved. North Korea has made open attempts to recruit a large number of Russian nuclear and missile experts. Its conduct towards the international institutions invites the conclusion that it could also become active in the grey area leading towards bomb-building.

b. The increased possibilities for procurement on the one hand and the greater demand on the other, as well as the fact that the collapse of the Eastern Bloc has reinforced the possibility of developing new market structures for nuclear materials, are producing a situation in which organized crime is turning in ever greater numbers to traffic in weapons and illicit nuclear materials.

c. The danger posed by political fanatics involved in terrorism, and absolutely determined to achieve their objectives at any price and by any possible means, has assumed a new dimension with the increased availability of radioactive and fissile material. Attacks such as that in Oklahoma show the lengths to which terrorists can go. They also indicate, however, the fundamental threat that would face whole population groups if such crimes were to be committed using nuclear material.

Restricting the possibilities for procurement reduces the level of threat! The larger the illicit market is, the greater the threat which terrorists can generate through their possession, or supposed possession, of radioactive or nuclear materials. A final, considerably more unpredictable, group is formed by religious fanatics. They share the same desperate determination as politically motivated terrorist groups. What sets them apart is the fact that they do not operate underground, but in society, albeit often in separate, isolated groups and frequently under the cover of apparently serious businesses. As the case of the Aum-Shinrikio sect recently demonstrated, religious sects may direct their mad apocalyptic fantasies against society as a whole. For this reason, groups such as this regard their possession of weapons of mass destruction as making perfect sense. Evidence has now been brought to light in Japan that the Aum-Shinrikio sect was also working on uranium enrichment technologies. The risk from this area in particular is thus one which should not be underestimated.

DEVELOPMENT OF NUCLEAR FACILITIES AND INVENTORIES OF FISSILE MATERIAL AND RADIOACTIVE SUBSTANCES

In the development of nuclear facilities and inventories of fissile material, as well as traffic in radioactive substances, the following picture has emerged since the early 1980s:

In the countries which have their own nuclear weapons, but also in those which are on the verge of becoming nuclear powers, those which operate nuclear facilities but do not possess nuclear weapons, and in other countries too, the number of facilities has risen sharply. In particular, the disarmament efforts of the major nuclear powers mean that inventories of fissile material from dismantled bombs are growing steadily, although so far no precise register of stocks has been made and indeed it is not clear if such a register could be made.

Another factor responsible for the growing plutonium inventories is the fact that a small number of countries have moved into the 'civil' plutonium industry. This policy means that substantially more plutonium is available, legally and illegally. Between 1989 and 1994 the amount of plutonium (in various forms and obviously including fuel(3)) subject to Euratom safeguards doubled, from 170 tonnes to 342 tonnes. In the same period stocks of low enriched uranium subject to Euratom safeguards grew by 80%, while safeguarded thorium stocks more than doubled, from 2100 tonnes to 4600 tonnes. The only decline was in stocks of highly enriched uranium, down from 13 tonnes to 12 tonnes. In addition, legal traffic in radioactive substances has grown considerably in the last 15 years. This has been the case with the import and export of radioactive materials and with the shipment of radioactive substances for an extremely wide range of uses. For this traffic as a whole there is neither precise registration of stocks nor precise loss reporting. Existing statistics are based in many cases on obsolete data. Thus the latest inquiry into the volume of radioactive materials transported (see Atomwirtschaft, July 1995), carried out by Germany's Gesellschaft für Reaktorsicherheit (GRS) refers to 1986 and therefore covers only former West Germany! Nonetheless, even a decade ago, the figures were startling: of 445 000 registered shipments, 370 000 were in connection with research, medicine and technology; 65 000 were accounted for by radiography and other radiation sources; 1900 were of nuclear fuel, large sources in nuclear technology and research; and 6630 shipments were of 'other radioactive materials' used in nuclear technology. The total distance over which materials were transported was estimated at 44 m kilometres. Obviously the volume of shipments in the EU as a whole is many times greater. It is impossible, in technical, organizational and financial terms, to implement one hundred per cent reliable surveillance and protection on such a scale.

The absence of monitoring for the disposal of hundreds of thousands of used radiation sources poses another potential threat which is largely underestimated in Europe at present.

Monitoring capacity in Europe

The development described above has been met by a development of monitoring capacity in Europe. Since 1980 Euratom Safeguards has developed as follows:

Inspection Manpower Resources

YEAR

Staff DCSIndex

Operational inspectorsIndex

Inspection mandays spentIndex

Nuclear material under safeguards in eff. kg. (by 1000)Index

1982

179 100

108 100

4.489 100

78 100

1985

188 105

125 116

6.225 139

121 155

1986

202 113

134 124

6.196 138

139 177

1987

212 118

139 129

6.814 152

158 202

1988

228 127

155 144

7.364 164

179 229

1989

230 128

157 145

7.417 165

199 255

1990

227 127

163 151

7.564 169

231 296

1991

241 135

173 160

7.757 173

293 376

1992

263 147

199 184

7.916 176

318 408

1993

257 144

210 185

8.418 188

343 440

1994

252 141

197 182

8.723 194

369 473

While the number of safeguards staff in post has risen by only 41% since 1982 and the number of inspectors by 82%, the volume of nuclear materials subject to safeguards has soared by 473% from 78 000 to 369 000(4)). In these circumstances it would seem urgent that an impartial examination of Euratom's operational efficiency should be conducted. It is apparent from the development of Euratom's tasks since 1991 alone, that while the overall budget has indeed increased substantially - from ECU 7495 m in 1991 to ECU 19 611 m in 1995 (+162%) - more than half of the 1995 budget is earmarked exclusively for major plutonium facilities, i.e. reprocessing plants and plants producing plutonium-uranium mixed oxide (MOX) fuel elements! The extravagance of producing and using plutonium is thus re-emphasized in terms of safeguards costs.

IAEA safeguards developed as follows between 1980 and 1993:

Throughout the world the number of facilities subject to IAEA safeguards rose from 416 to 550 (+31%). It should be noted that, according to French Government figures, submitted to the French Parliament, 265 facilities with nuclear materials are registered in France alone. This highlights the obvious inadequacy of the safeguards.

The quantity of separated plutonium in stock has shot up from 6 tonnes to 38 tonnes (increasing by a factor of 6.3). The plutonium inventory in spent fuel rose from 79 tonnes to 416 tonnes (x 5.2), the inventory for low enriched uranium climbed from 13 872 tonnes to 38 724 tonnes (x 2.8). Here too the only decline was in safeguarded stocks of highly enriched uranium, which fell from 11 tonnes to 10 tonnes. In each case the figures clearly represent only a fraction of all existing nuclear materials.

Physical protection of facilities is exclusively a national responsibility. It is a task for the police or army in each country. The only international instrument is an IAEA Agreement. Little is known about the extent to which this agreement is implemented and respected. This applies to states in the Western world, but particularly to the area of the former Soviet Union and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe; virtually nothing is known about their physical protection arrangements and the structures on which they are based.

The inclusion of these national-level activities, the mutual exchange of information and the creation of common strategies for physical security of stocks must form part of any international security strategy on the physical protection of facilities.

Just as important is the area of Accounting and Control. We now know that in the countries of the former USSR, for example, systems of accounting for fissile material have been either non-existent or wholly inadequate. While the activities of Euratom Safeguards are definitely desirable, they are entirely inadequate. They are too numerous, too slow and, given the enormous challenges faced in Eastern Europe, vanishingly small. In 1994 around ECU 1.8 m was spent on this type of activity.

POLITICAL POWERS AND RESPONSIBILITIES

The significance of the illicit trade in nuclear materials goes beyond the realm of national competence. Nuclear armaments and issues connected with nuclear facilities occupy the attentions of the United Nations, up to Security Council level.

The IAEA is the institution charged with ensuring that fissile material is dealt with correctly, though it must be added in qualification that military matters in the nuclear weapons states are, on principle, outside the scope of IAEA safeguards. In addition, its restricted resources place severe limits on what the IAEA can do. For example, in France, which is a nuclear power, only a single facility was subject to IAEA safeguards in 1993: a spent fuel store in La Hague. Apart from an unknown number of purely military facilities, there were also 30 'mixed' civil and military facilities in France to which Euratom had only temporary access.

As has become apparent from earlier inquiries by the European Parliament, the IAEA safeguards cannot be considered as an efficient system of surveillance from a technical point of view, but rather they must be classed as part of political confidence-building. This is also true of the Euratom safeguards.

The importance of the whole area of nuclear energy within the European Union is expressed in Euratom's special position, based on the Euratom Treaty and a range of bilateral agreements between Euratom and states outside the European Union. Under these bilateral agreements Euratom takes responsibility for the European Union's nuclear policy interests. A variety of legal and political aspects need to be examined here. For example, if a major cause of the increase in illicit nuclear traffic is the large-scale movement into the plutonium industry, which can no longer be justified by considerations of energy policy, then it has to be asked why this should continue to be a European Union strategy.

A particular danger is posed by the fact that there is movement into the international plutonium industry by certain governments within the European Union. The potential use in commercial reactors of uranium-plutonium mixed oxide (MOX) also involves unacceptable risks. The report by Jacques Attali to the Secretary-General of the United Nations is instructive on this issue, observing in particular that there is a suggestion from many quarters that the entire stock of [weapons-grade[ plutonium should be converted into MOX, but that this solution is unsound: to promote the use of MOX, even for the sole purpose of burning existing plutonium, would merely lead to the creation of a new demand for plutonium. The report observes that there is a proposal from other quarters to re-mix the plutonium with wastes to produce secure drums of waste that can be stored. It advances the opinion that, with existing technology, this is most sensible and least hazardous solution.

Article 1 of the Euratom Treaty says that it shall be part of Euratom's task to further the establishment and growth of a European nuclear industry. It must be asked, especially given the growing illicit nuclear traffic, whether getting out of the nuclear industry ought not to be one of the European Union's urgent tasks. In this respect the Euratom Treaty should also be discussed in the European Parliament and should be re-evaluated at both national and European level. In addition, the Euratom Treaty is an intergovernmental legal act at European level. Euratom's activities are entirely removed from the control of national parliaments without being subject to effective parliamentary control at European level. There is a particular need, therefore, to reinforce the role of the European Parliament, because, as a budgetary authority, Parliament must decide on the financial preconditions for further development, especially the development of Euratom Safeguards. Given the fact that this is such a live political issue, it seems unacceptable, however, that the European Parliament should have only a partial right of codecision.

In the preparation of this report, it became clear that only Germany has sent a substantial quantity of impounded material to the Joint Research Centre's Institute for Transuranium Elements. Which other Member State of the European Union has availed itself of this institution?

As for the Munich plutonium case, it is clear that the impact - quite apart from the dubious character

- of this operation by the police and secret service was extremely counterproductive as regards cooperation-building with Russia. Following this operation, in which the Russians were represented as wholly unreliable partners, cooperation between Euratom and the Russian authorities came to a virtual standstill. In addition, there are questions as to how far and when Germany involved the Joint Research Centre, and thus the European Union, in the police operations, and how far Euratom allowed itself and its facilities to be involved. There must be a full report by Euratom to Parliament on this issue, in order to ascertain whether European law was respected throughout the operations.

(1)Y. VOLODIN et al., 'Main Principles of Establishing the State System of Accounting for and Control of Nuclear Materials in the Russian Federation', ESARDA 1995, Aachen, May 1995.
(2)Thomas B. COCHRAN, 'Proliferation and the Nuclear Disarmament Process - The Strategic Implications', Financial Times Conference, September14-15, 1994.
(3)Unfortunately the statistics supplied by Euratom Safeguards are not very explicit as regards the form of the plutonium.
(4)Quantities of various nuclear materials expressed as effective kg according to their strategic significance.


 O P I N I O N

(Rule 147 of the Rules of Procedure)

of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Security and Defence Policy

for the Committee on Civil Liberties and Internal Affairs

Draftsman: Mr Per Gahrton

At its meeting of 21 February 1995 the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Security and Defence Policy appointed Mr Per Gahrton draftsman.

At its meetings of 6 September 1995, 30 October 1995 and 22 November 1995 it considered the draft opinion.

At the last meeting it unanimously adopted the conclusions as a whole.

The following were present for the vote: Matutes Juan, chairman; Carrère d'Encausse, second vicechairman; Gahrton, draftsman; Aelvoet, Bertens, Caccavale (for Caligaris), Colajanni, Goerens (for de Melo), von Habsburg, König (for Castagnetti), Lenz, McGowan (for Balfe), Poettering, Sakellariou and Viola (for Gomolka).

1. The illicit traffic in radioactive substances and nuclear materials is a particularly serious problem which has become more acute since the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the resulting social and economic upheavals. There has been an increasing number of seizures of radioactive materials in the 1990s in several European and other countries. One of the bestknown examples was the seizure of 363 grammes of weapons-grade plutonium in Munich in August 1994, which three individuals were trying to smuggle in from Moscow. They were subsequently sentenced to long terms of imprisonment. In Germany alone the number of seizures of radioactive materials has risen from some 40 in 1991 to over 300 in 1995. Seizures of illegally imported radioactive materials have been made in the 1990s in countries including Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Rumania. This new situation is having a destabilizing effect, threatening the security both of states and of private citizens. Combating this new form of crime will require, above all, international cooperation under the aegis of the United Nations Security Council.

2. In this context, Mr Jacques ATTALI, former director of the EBRD, was asked by the United Nations Secretary-General to draw up a report on nuclear proliferation. He recently published his conclusions in a book entitled 'Economie de l'apocalypse - trafic et prolifération nucléaires' ('Economy of the Apocalypse - Nuclear Trafficking and Proliferation'). The following passage sheds some light on this complex and grave problem:

' - Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, nuclear trafficking has grown very alarmingly, involving the three aspects of nuclear arms production, namely experts, technology and materials.

- Trafficking and proliferation are inseparable: trafficking means illicit trade in a product; proliferation is the illegal production of components necessary for the manufacture of weapons. The traffic in such materials is the instrument of proliferation and, proliferation is the aim of this traffic. In order to combat proliferation, we need to tackle the traffic at its roots, and vice versa.'(1)

3. Before looking more closely at the nature of illicit trafficking and how to combat this problem, it may be worth recalling the Commission's definition of 'nuclear materials' and 'radioactive substances'.

'Nuclear materials' are materials subject to 'safeguards' (safety controls), whether under the Euratom Treaty, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) or the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty (NPT), and in regard to which there is a substantial risk, according to the substance in question, of direct or indirect military use, e.g. plutonium and highly enriched uranium.

'Radioactive substances' are products which are not subject to safeguards and regarding which the threat of contamination derives from the radiation emitted by the substance, but without the possibility that the substance can be used as a fuel in its present state. This is the case with certain substances commonly used for medical purposes, e.g. radium and caesium.

4. The Commission puts forward a number of measures to combat the illicit traffic in nuclear materials and radioactive substances.

(a) First of all, it considers that the conditions of operation of the nuclear sector in the countries concerned by the traffic in certain dangerous materials need to be improved, in particular through nuclear safeguards. To this end, the Commission proposes that maximum use be made of the possibilities of existing programmes, including the assistance provided by the Euratom Safeguards Directorate, the technical assistance provided under the TACIS programme, with the support of the Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the Moscow-based International Science and Technology Centre, whose aim is to prevent the proliferation of technologies and know-how relating to weapons of mass destruction. Unfortunately, this Centre's impact on the 'proliferation of scientists' is limited since it cannot employ all the scientists from the former Eastern bloc who were involved in atomic research.

(b) The Commission also believes that every effort must be made to ensure that the introduction of nuclear materials into the territory of the European Union is stopped at the Union's external frontiers. To this end, the Commission proposes strengthening customs cooperation between the Member States, with the aim of boosting their capacity to prevent and detect attempted illicit traffic. It also suggests that the possibilities offered by Title VI of the Treaty on European Union(2), including joint actions (Article K.3(2)), should be explored and utilized to the full. Finally, it states that the Euratom Safeguards Directorate and the Joint Research Centre will continue, as in the past, to place their expertise at the disposal of the national authorities confronted with this problem.

(c) Lastly, the Commission stresses the need for international cooperation in this area. It refers, in particular, to the partnership agreements and Europe agreements providing for cooperation on nuclear matters as well as political dialogue which should be used to devise joint responses to the problem, which affects the international community as a whole. Future agreements should include a more explicit reference to action to combat the illicit traffic in nuclear materials and radioactive substances. Cooperation should be stepped up with third countries likely to help combat this traffic, in particular the United States. Finally, in the context of the CFSP, the Commission proposes making use of the joint action concerning the preparation of the 1995 conference of states party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

5. The illicit traffic in nuclear materials and radioactive substances exists because there is a demand. This demand may originate from countries which, for reasons of prestige or geopolitical ambition or to protect themselves against real or imaginary threats from other countries, wish to gain possession of nuclear weapons, i.e. the ultimate deterrent and ultimate threat.

This demand may also come from terrorist groups that do not wish to gain possession of nuclear weapons as such but simply to produce a radioactive weapon as a means of blackmailing a given country for political purposes. This radioactive weapon, which is relatively easy to produce, is a combination of radioactive materials or substances and a chemical explosive which can disseminate irradiating materials throughout a town or territory, causing it to become isolated (and/or populations to be displaced) and thereby throwing a country into disarray.

6. There is an abundance of supply, resulting from sub-products of civil nuclear energy (mainly plutonium) and the decommissioning and destruction of nuclear weapons by virtue of international agreements (START) or unilateral decisions by countries in possession of such weapons, whether strategic or tactical (field weapons). For instance, the START agreements signed in the context of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, undoubtedly increased the temptation, in an unparalleled economic crisis, to make money out of 'nuclear raw materials' and treat them like any other commodity. This was what led the United States to buy uranium from Russia, which did not have the necessary storage capacity for such materials resulting from the dismantling of its nuclear warheads.

7. For supply and demand to meet, middle-men are required. There is no lack of such middle-men in the present context of economic crisis: mafias, the military-industrial complex and scientists wishing to retain their privileges or maintain (or improve) their standard of living. The proliferation of know-how is just as alarming as the traffic in nuclear materials and radioactive substances themselves. The same applies to the proliferation as far as the means of transporting nuclear or radioactive weapons is concerned. In more general terms, steps must be taken to combat all forms of trafficking relating to arms of mass destruction (ABC weapons) and substances making it possible to manufacture such weapons.

8. At international level, the unlimited and unconditional renewal of the Non-Proliferation Treaty will, to a certain degree, make it possible to limit nuclear proliferation and provide the international community with a reference framework which states must observe. Clearly, there would be a greater incentive to abolish nuclear weapons if those states which possess such weapons solemnly undertook to destroy their nuclear arsenals. All states should naturally refrain from nuclear weapons testing pending international agreement on a total test ban. Similarly, demonizing certain states, for whatever reasons, will only encourage them to try to obtain nuclear weapons secretly (inasmuch as secrecy is possible in this area) to avoid reprisals such as those experienced by Iraq after it invaded Kuwait.

The Non-Proliferation Treaty is necessary, but not sufficient. Compliance with this Treaty is dependent upon the determination of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to enforce it. However, this determination is not shared by all members. The Treaty has undoubtedly reduced the possibility of nuclear proliferation, but has not ruled it out altogether. The IAEA, for its part, only controls those states which are willing to be controlled. It cannot carry out spot checks. It has no sanctioning power. Its action in Iraq was exceptional.

CONCLUSIONS

9. The Committee on Foreign Affairs, Security and Defence Policy believes that combating the illicit traffic in nuclear materials and radioactive substances entails a wide variety of measures:

(a) The guidelines put forward by the Commission in its communication are useful and deserve to be examined with a view to their implementation: this is particularly true of the international cooperation to be developed in this area. Similarly, Member States have a duty to cooperate with one another.

(b) The powers and resources available to the IAEA should be strengthened, given that the illicit traffic (and proliferation) are a threat to mankind. Just as human rights are no longer the preserve of states but a prerogative of the international community, action to combat the illicit traffic in nuclear materials and radioactive substances is a matter which concerns all countries. It should be tackled at the United Nations.

(c) The collapse of state structures in countries of the former Soviet Union, linked to the economic crisis, has encouraged crime. Economic aid to these countries is important but must be accompanied by action to promote civil society so that citizens become more aware of the importance of the state and civic duties. Traffickers should be severely punished: for this purpose, the illicit traffic in nuclear materials and radioactive substances should be made equivalent to a crime against humanity, like the crime of genocide under the 1948 United Nations Convention.

(d) Lastly, research should be stepped up to ensure that products of fission from nuclear power stations cannot be used for military purposes since MOX (mixed oxide) is not an ideal solution. Apart from this, the basic method of producing energy needs to be reconsidered in view of the ecological danger represented by nuclear energy. This will be the major challenge for the next century.

10. The Committee on Foreign Affairs, Security and Defence Policy therefore calls on the committee responsible to incorporate these considerations in its report.

(1)Jacques ATTALI - Economie de l'apocalypse - Fayard 1995, p. 11.
(2)Article K.1(9) of the TEU stipulates that 'Member States shall regard ... as matters of commoninterest: ... combating terrorism, unlawful drug-trafficking and other serious forms of international crime ...'


 O P I N I O N

(Rule 147 of the Rules of Procedure)

of the Committee on Research, Technological Development and Energy

for the Committee on Civil Liberties and Internal Affairs

Draftsman: Mr Carlos Robles Piquer

At its meeting of 2 February 1995 the Committee on Research, Technological Development and Energy appointed Mr Robles Piquer draftsman.

At its meetings of 23 February, 12 April, 22 May, 1 June, 16 October, 23 October and 22 November 1995 it considered the draft opinion.

At the last meeting it adopted the conclusions as a whole unanimously.

The following took part in the vote: Scapagnini, chairman; Adam, Quisthoudt-Rowohl and McNally, vice-chairmen; Ahern, Bloch von Blottnitz, Dybkjær (for Plooij-van Gorsel), Estevan Bolea, Ferber, Heinisch (for Chichester), Holm, Izquierdo Collado, Lange, Mann (for Desama), Marset Campos, Mombaur, Pompidou, Rauti, Sanz Fernández (for Linkohr), Stockmann (for Nencini), Trakatellis (for Jouppila) and W.G. van Velzen.

I. INTRODUCTION

The communication under discussion in this opinion(1) is an attempt to provide a realistic response on the part of the Union, from a global and coordinated perspective, to the problem of the illegal traffic in radioactive substances and nuclear materials, via initiatives based on the three 'pillars' of the Treaty on European Union and intended, in practical terms, to achieve the following goals: to contribute to improving safeguards in respect of nuclear materials in countries affected by the illegal traffic, in particular by coordinating the relevant Community instruments; to prevent such materials entering the Union's territory via measures permitting seizure at the external frontiers; and to reinforce cooperation between all the countries affected.

This is, however, not the first time that the Commission has considered this disturbing international problem. Its third report on the operation of Euratom safeguards(2) states quite clearly:

'... As far as could be analyzed by the end of 1992, in a number of [CIS[ republics no system had been put in place which would perform the functions of ... controls against theft of nuclear material, illegal trade of nuclear material and against hazards to the population concerning contamination/radiation.'

Parliament had already proposed, in its resolution of 11 March 1992(3) on the risk of nuclear proliferation due to the existence of 'nuclear mercenaries', the launching of an international monitoring scheme to control and prevent trafficking in nuclear materials. These concerns were subsequently expressed in a resolution(4) in which Parliament called for: the presentation of a global strategy for action against international contraband in nuclear materials, and for such acts to be considered a serious form of crime; the setting up of a temporary committee on the matter; and funding for budget item B4-2001 (for the financing of training and retraining of experts in the countries of eastern and central Europe and the CIS in the area of nuclear safeguards).

II. REMARKS

Contraband in nuclear materials is now recognized to be an unfortunate side-effect of the break-up of the political, administrative and military apparatus of the old Soviet Union and its one-time satellites. This process has, in many instances, led to the disappearance of physical protection and nuclear safety infrastructures put in place to control the increasing quantities of highly enriched uranium and plutonium resulting from nuclear disarmament measures and from the reprocessing of irradiated fuel in nuclear power stations and in what were quite clearly dual-use research centres. The alarm was sounded by the Commission(5) following the unification of the two Germanies on 3 October 1990, when major discrepancies were discovered between recorded and actual stocks of nuclear materials in nuclear research centres.

Quantification of the problem is a difficult task, especially if one considers that only 1% of the world's highly enriched uranium (some 1350 tonnes) is subject to IAEA safeguards, that 95% of it is in the hands of the Russian and US armies, and that, for instance, 200 kg are sufficient to turn a country like Pakistan into a nuclear power. With respect to military-use plutonium, the total stocks of the US and the CIS countries amount to over 250 tonnes, while countries such as India and Israel may possess 300 kg each. Nonetheless, the 500-plus cases of contraband recorded since 1990 in Germany have led to the confiscation of 11.6 kg of natural uranium, 3.9 kg of uranium enriched by less than 20%, 0.8 g of highly-enriched uranium and 0.373 kg of plutonium.

Considerable amounts of information can be obtained using indirect analysis techniques and destructive tests; however, to determine the exact origin of the nuclear material confiscated, detect such material crossing frontiers and ascertain its intended use all represent an even more difficult challenge than the first one. As a result, media rumours are likely to mention, in one and the same breath, both the secret 'nuclear cities' of Russia and the countries which are actively adding to proliferation (North Korea, Libya, Pakistan, etc.).

It should not be forgotten that, while the risk of nuclear proliferation is quite evident in international terms, contraband in nuclear materials is also a public health risk: indiscriminate dispersal can lead to radioactive contamination, as has already occurred in Goiania (Brazil) with a medical-use radioactive source. It is disturbing to realize that a minute quantity of plutonium - less than 100 becquerels(6) - lodged in the lungs of an ordinary citizen is enough to expose him to the maximum radiation level permitted by the ICRP(7), as specified in the directive on health protection against ionizing radiation(8).

The Community should respond to this phenomenon by, in the first place, reinforcing the policies forming the Community pillar, since the Commission does not have the right of initiative in the fields of the CFSP and of cooperation in justice and internal affairs; in any case, structural measures cannot eradicate a phenomenon which by its nature belongs to the realm of crime.

III. CONCLUSIONS

The Committee on Research, Technological Development and Energy calls on the Committee on Civil Liberties and Internal Affairs, as the committee responsible, to include the following conclusions in its report on the basis of the resolution adopted by the European Parliament and in accordance with Rule 147 of the Rules of Procedure:

1. Calls on the Commission, by means of a regulatory instrument, to initiate the necessary procedures ensuring a harmonized approach within the European Union Member States to the legal traffic of nuclear materials as well as to the monitoring procedures and techniques relating thereto;

2. Calls on the Commission to clarify the details of those instances of illegal traffic of nuclear material of which it is aware, giving a clear account of those cases in which there has been a commercial transaction between the supplier and the purchaser and when the Commission was informed thereof;

3. Calls on the Commission to reorganize the internal structure of those of its departments responsible for nuclear matters with the primary aim of improving efficiency, in particular as regards relations between and the respective responsibilities of Directorates-General XVII, XII, XI and IA vis-à-vis nuclear dossiers;

4. Calls on the Council to foster a debate on the possibility of extending aspects of Community policies and the common foreign and security policy to ensure that stocks of civilian nuclear material in the Union come under the control of one supervisory body;

5. Expresses its support for the cooperation activities related to Euratom safeguards undertaken by the Commission, especially those funded under budget item B4-2001 and those which, via bilateral agreements, may lead to the creation of nuclear materials accounting and physical protection structures in the countries of central and eastern Europe and the CIS; calls for a noticeable increase in the funds earmarked for these purposes and, accordingly, for the funds for East-West cooperation to be subjected to a significantly improved budgetary control, for the results obtained from financing activities to be evaluated regularly and for Parliament to be involved in these tasks;

6. Urges the Commission in particular, in its negotiations with the Russian Federation, to try to ensure that the safety of the Federation's nuclear installations, both civil and military, is supervised by the Russian inspectorate known by the abbreviation GAN (Gosatomnatzor), which should be given all possible technical assistance;

7. Calls on the Commission to promote the development in the countries concerned of databases concerning plutonium reprocessed in nuclear programmes and enriched uranium, and determination of reliable means of storing and handling such materials; these measures should be complemented by an information exchange system permitting simultaneous alerting in cases where contraband is discovered, possibly within the framework of the IAEA, and, at the same time, fully agrees with the Commission's decision to launch, within the PHARE and TACIS frameworks, assistance programmes in the field of nuclear accounting and control, in particular to allow CIS countries (including Russia) to establish, as soon as possible, a national accounting and control system of nuclear material coherent with international criteria as set up by IAEA;

8. Calls on the Commission to give consideration to the most suitable type of contribution which could be made by its services responsible for radiological protection, the Joint Research Centre and the safeguard controls to the implementation of emergency plans for dealing with possible risks of radioactive contamination; considers, in this context, that a high priority must be given to training of local experts at both authorities' and operators' level; therefore supports the establishment of a Russian Methodological and Training Centre at Obninsk, near Moscow, with the technical assistance of the Joint Research Centre, and considers that this training centre should be open to all CIS republics;

9. Considers it essential that support be provided for R & D in this field with a view to extending the application of safeguard principles to nuclear materials by using ad hoc detection and measuring techniques and instruments at certain strategic points;

10. Calls on the Commission to submit a plan concerning the use of improved radiological measuring instruments at European airports;

11. Considers, in this connection, that a decisive role is to be played by efforts on the part of the European Union and those states accommodating nuclear material and scientists specialized in that field which reduce the incentive for illegal trafficking in nuclear materials by offering scientists opportunities to apply their expertise to peaceful activities;

12. Considers that a complete inventory should be drawn up of the enriched uranium and plutonium existing in the CIS and the countries of central and eastern Europe and calls on the Commission to disclose its knowledge of this material and its information on plans concerning these materials in the countries in question to the European Parliament;

13. Asks the Commission to assess whether a Protocol to the European Energy Charter, or a separate Treaty open to all CSCE States, or some other alternative, should be established in order to implement a framework aiming at a strict control of accountancy and movement of nuclear materials and radioactive substances;

14. Calls on the Commission to assess the possibilities offered by the existing technology of eliminating the stocks of enriched uranium and plutonium by fission or transmutation of actinides, to strengthen its commitment to and financial support for programmes aimed at plutonium vitrification and at evaluating the best possible methods for the conditioning and safe long-term disposal of waste, and, in accordance with Parliament's resolution on the Green Paper for a European Union energy policy, to support nuclear disarmament by making available the knowledge and capabilities of European research institutions and industry in disposing of weapons-grade plutonium and highly enriched uranium;

15. Calls on the Commission to make a comparison of the existing legislation in all the Member States concerning action against contraband in nuclear materials and the classification of such contraband as a crime and to inform the European Parliament thereof;

16. Reiterates its belief that the European Parliament must set up a temporary committee of inquiry to carry out a detailed study, this time under the auspices of the European Union as a whole, of the problems which the German Parliament has seen fit to investigate;

17. Calls for the European Parliament to be informed, in the context of its relations with the national parliaments, of the progress of the preparatory work of the Temporary Research Committee set up on 11 May 1995 in the German Parliament.

(1)COM(94)0383, 7 September 1994
(2)COM(94)0282, 6 July 1994
(3)B3-0302/92
(4)OJ C 305, 31.10.1994
(5)Cf. SEC(92)0080, 24 January 1992 (concerning the period 1989-1990).
(6)A becquerel is the unit of radioactivity equivalent to the decay of one nucleus per second.
(7)Annals of the International Commission on Radiological Protection, ICRP Publication No. 60
(8)Cf. COM(94)0298, OJ C 224, 12.8.1994


 OPINION

of the Committee on External Economic Relations

Letter from the Chairman of the committee to Mr Umberto SCAPAGNINI, Chairman of the Committee on Research, Technological Development and Energy

Brussels, 30 January 1995

Subject: Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on the illicit traffic in radioactive substances and nuclear materials (COM(94)0383 final)

Dear Mr Scapagnini,

At its meeting of 31 January 1995 the Committee on External Economic Relations considered the communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on the illicit traffic in radioactive substances and nuclear materials (COM(94)0383 final).

The communication states that the dissolution of the Soviet Union has resulted in fragmentation of the control and management structures for nuclear materials and radioactive substances.

A number of states in the region, particularly Russia and Ukraine, have undertaken an ambitious programme of dismantling their nuclear arsenals, sometimes with huge support from the West, with the indirect result of a growing risk that certain fissile materials might move from an area subject to control to less well-controlled areas where malicious acts cannot be ruled out, particularly as in some republics, including Russia, powerful criminal organizations have emerged which could set up export channels. The result is illicit traffic in dangerous radioactive material, acquired fraudulently and sold secretly all over the world. The final users of the stolen materials are in all probability third countries or clandestine operators based outside the territory of the Union.

Clearly, the Union must make an appropriate response to this situation, in the interest of the security of individuals and of States, and the countries of the former Soviet Union, Central and Eastern Europe and the European Union obviously have a common interest in finding a solution.

As regards traffic in the most dangerous substances, such as plutonium or highly enriched uranium, there is a risk of nuclear proliferation, since nuclear materials involved in this traffic are only of interest to states or organizations which are seeking to bypass the various levels of control set up at national and international level. This type of traffic has apparently been increasing considerably.

The Commission proposes a response based on various measures involving three 'pillars' (the Communities, the common foreign and security policy, and cooperation in the fields of justice and internal affairs); these measures can be grouped under three main headings:

- Improvement of the operating conditions of the local nuclear sectors (specialized technical assistance from the Union, particularly under the TACIS programme, collection, processing and evaluation of information, inspection procedures and implementation, accounting for the materials involved);

- Cooperation with the countries concerned (particularly by making use of dialogue and cooperation opened up by the partnership and cooperation agreements with the countries of the former Soviet Union and the Europe Agreements concluded with the Central and Eastern European countries, as well as joint action under the Non-Proliferation Treaty);

- Cooperation between the Member States (the development of cooperation already established by the EURATOM Safeguards Directorate, the development of customs cooperation and the MATTHAEUS programme, cooperation under the cooperation structures established in the field of justice and internal affairs, exchange of information on industrial cooperation).

In view of the urgent, serious and complex nature of the problem presented by this type of traffic, the Committee on External Economic Relations unreservedly welcomes the Commission's action and approved the above communication unanimously(1).

Yours sincerely,

Willy DE CLERCQ

(1)The following were present for the vote: De Clercq, chairman; Sainjon, vice-chairman; Ferrer, Gaigg (for Schwaiger), Kreissl-Dörfler, Malerba, Nußbaumer, Posch and Toivonen.


 O P I N I O N

(Rule 147 of the Rules of Procedure)

of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Protection

for the Committee on Civil Liberties and Internal Affairs

Draftsman: Mrs Françoise Grossetête

At its meeting of 20 December 1994 the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Protection appointed Mrs Grossetête draftsman.

At its meetings of 22 May and 27 June 1995 it considered the draft opinion.

At the latter meeting it adopted the draft opinion unanimously.

The following took part in the vote: Kenneth Collins, chairman; Jackson, Dybkjær, and Kirsten Jensen, vice-chairmen; Grossetête, draftsman; Blokland, Breyer, Burtone, Cabrol, De Coene (for van Putten), Díez de Rivera Icaza, Gaigg, Gebhardt (for Bowe), Graenitz, Johansson, Kuhn, Lange (for Waddington), Lannoye, Liese (for Florenz), McKenna, Needle (for Kokkola), Poggiolini, Pollack, Roth-Behrendt, Schleicher, Spencer (for Rovsing), Trakatellis, Virgin, White and Whitehead.

Since 1992 there has been a growing illicit traffic in radioactive substances and nuclear materials in Europe, not least on the territory of the European Union. The situation is becoming increasingly dangerous both from the point of view of nuclear proliferation and for public health and the environment. This is the problem, a matter of concern for all the countries of the Union, that the Commission is bringing to the attention of Parliament and the Council in its communication COM(94)0383.

I. A disturbing situation

The rise of the traffic in radioactive substances and nuclear materials coincided with the breakup of the Soviet Union. Many serious consequences have ensued as far as the nuclear sector is concerned, for example, military and civil nuclear materials are being scattered throughout different countries, primarily Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan, centralized supervision has been relaxed, and on-site inspections have slackened or even ceased to occur, because political, administrative, and police machinery has collapsed, and economic chaos and falling living standards are creating an inducement for the fraudulent traffic in these dangerous substances.

Secondly, expanding communications and albeit limited population movements between Eastern Europe and the CIS countries on the one hand and Western Europe on the other have led some traffickers to use the latter place as a market on which to resell the offending substances or as a stopover on the way to other

- more often than not, unknown - destinations.

Although they are equally dangerous from a health and environmental protection perspective, a distinction should be made between nuclear materials and radioactive substances on account of the nature of the traffic as well as of their ultimate uses.

A. Nuclear materials, chiefly uranium, plutonium, and thorium, are fuels used in nuclear powerstations but can also be used to make atom bombs. Trafficking in these materials, which is growing to an alarming extent, poses the problem of radiation protection as well as that of nuclear proliferation.

Smuggled uranium was first discovered in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, but the small quantities involved were insufficient to make an atom bomb. The situation changed when 2.6 kg of enriched uranium - that is to say, a tenth of the amount required to make a bomb - was brought to light in Prague in December 1994. By means of analysis of the materials unearthed in Germany and later in Prague, the police in the countries concerned are attempting to determine whether the substances originated from the same source in every case (the Karlsruhe-based Institute for Transuranium Elements has the necessary technical resources to carry out such an analysis) and, secondly, whether there is reason to suppose, in the light of the finds, that professional traffickers are operating in a network. One final question which appears wholly unanswered is the identity of the customers (foreign countries wishing to have their own atom bomb, criminal organizations seeking to engage in a lucrative traffic, terrorists willing to use nuclear materials as a means of blackmail).

The immediate consequences entailed in the traffic in nuclear materials are a threat of nuclear proliferation and hence a danger to peace and security in Europe and the world. A further danger is posed, albeit with a certain time-lag, to the environment and public health. To date, and this would seem to confirm the theory that the traffic is being masterminded by professionals, the packaging of smuggled enriched uranium has apparently conformed more closely to minimum safety standards than has been the case when radioactive substances have been involved.

The situation as regards radioactive substances is rather different.

B. Radioactive substances produce ionizing radiations and cannot be used as fuel in the unaltered state. Most are in common use in medical or industrial applications. One problem which cannot be ignored, however, is the waste left over when spent fuel from power-stations is reprocessed. The most serious danger posed by these substances is contamination of persons and the environment.

The illicit traffic has grown constantly since 1992. All countries of the Union appear to be affected, although it is not easy to gain an accurate picture, because, contrary to the obligation applying to nuclear materials, Member States do not have to inform the Euratom authorities that radioactive substances have been unearthed, moved, or disposed of.

If anything, the traffic in radioactive substances is more dangerous from the point of view of contamination than the traffic in nuclear materials. In the first place, because the persons involved are rarely scientists and therefore often unaware of the risks they are running, they move about with substances stolen from laboratories or hospitals without taking the slightest precautions. In Switzerland, for example, a man was apprehended when he was attempting to sell a radioactive source the size of a ball-point pen. He had been walking around with this substance in his shirt pocket, quite unprotected, whereas half a tonne of armour-plating is the form of protection prescribed by the safety regulations. As well as suffering very severe radiation exposure himself, the trafficker was also a source of exposure for the persons with whom he came into contact, for instance when he dined out at a restaurant.

Furthermore, radioactive substances can cause delayed contamination if they are dispersed into the environment or impregnate the food chain. In one case which occurred at the frontier between Germany and Poland, German customs officers discovered a lorry carrying radioactive sources that had been hidden under sacks of pistachio nuts. After the radioactive substances had been confiscated, the lorry containing the contaminated pistachios was sent back to Poland. There is nothing to say that the same nuts will not find their way back into the Union countries by another route or, be that as it may, contaminate people in other places who do not understand the danger.

Because radioactive substances originate from a great many different sources spread over very wide areas, checks in countries where thefts occur pose even greater difficulties than when nuclear materials are involved.

Lastly, a trade in contaminated substances is growing up between Russia and the European Union countries. Russia exports materials containing iron that have not been decontaminated, scrap left over after nuclear power-stations have been dismantled or nuclear-powered submarines disarmed. When they are imported, these materials not only result in contamination, one of the victims of which has been an engine assembly plant in Italy (the contaminated engines had to be called in and disposed of as radioactive waste), but also cause traffic to be re-routed. Since Germany, for example, carries out radioactivity tests on containers used to transport steel from Russia, the traffic in this product has been diverted to countries which are not so fully alerted to the danger of contamination or quite as well equipped to cope. In order to tackle this new kind of crime, the Union's frontiers have to be effectively sealed off to the products involved, and customs officers must be properly trained and provided with the necessary specialist detection equipment.

Without wishing to overstate the case, the situation seems very worrying. The Member States have to make a concerted response, and, where powers have been conferred on it by the Treaties, the Union as such likewise needs to act.

II. What can and must the Union do?

A. In its communication, the Commission maintains that the Union must seek to resolve the problems posed by this type of traffic by adopting a coordinated, comprehensive approach, both within the Union and in relation to the Eastern European countries and the CIS republics.

The Commission believes that action should be pursued at several levels.

- Prevention by means of specialized technical assistance to the countries of the former Soviet bloc, enabling them to re-establish effective safeguard systems.

- Political cooperation in the form of partnership and cooperation agreements with the countries concerned. Renewal of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) might provide a favourable opportunity, and agreements could also be concluded with third countries such as the United States that are alarmed about the consequences of the traffic.

- Cooperation among the Member States, making use of the opportunities afforded by Euratom safeguards and focusing on customs, police, and judicial cooperation, and cooperation with industrial circles that are anxious not to be implicated unwittingly in a form of traffic in nuclear materials or dangerous substances.

B. Your draftsman broadly supports all of the above proposals. However, more specifically as regards protecting the health of Europeans and the European environment against ionizing radiations, she wishes to draw attention to a number of key points:

1. Although the Member States recognize the nuclear proliferation threat, not all have been alerted to the danger posed by possible contamination of persons and the environment. It is symptomatic that Germany, the country most directly affected to date, was instrumental in setting up ad hoc bilateral cooperation machinery between the Commission and the Member States concerned, which has been in operation since July 1992. Some countries, either because they have not yet had firsthand experience of trafficking on their territory or because their nuclear programmes put them in a better position to cope, have shown very little enthusiasm - the Essen Summit being a case in point - in pressing for concerted action, following as fully integrated an approach as possible with the aim of protecting people and the environment to the utmost degree.

2. The Member States might, on the other hand, usefully be reminded that they have a duty to protect the public against ionizing radiations. Article 45 of Directive 80/836/Euratom of 15 July 1980 amending the Directives laying down the basic safety standards for the health protection of the general public and workers against the dangers of ionizing radiation sets out the Member States' obligations with respect to health protection: under paragraph 5 of that article, neighbouring Member States and the Commission must be notified 'when the circumstances so require'(1).

3. The public in the Union face fairly grave dangers on account of the insecurity associated with the traffic in nuclear materials or radioactive substances. They consequently need to be made aware of the risks in the most appropriate manner possible. Article 6 of Directive 89/618/Euratom of 27 November 1989 on informing the general public about health protection measures to be applied and steps to be taken in the event of a radiological emergency lays down a requirement that information be provided to the public(2). Article 2, however, in which the term 'radiological emergency' is defined, does not mention cases resulting from illicit traffic, because the question did not arise at the time when the Directive was drawn up. We believe that the necessary amendment should be made to the Directive.

Conclusions

Alarmed at the growing dangers of environmental contamination and the risks to which the public are being exposed as a result of the expanding illicit traffic in radioactive substances and nuclear materials, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Protection calls on the Committee on Civil Liberties to take account of the following points:

1. The Member States should be called upon significantly to intensify their cooperation, drawing on all the resources provided by the Maastricht Treaty to tackle the serious and pressing problem of radioactive contamination stemming from the above traffic;

2. The Commission should be called upon to employ every means afforded by the Euratom Treaty and the basic Directives, not least Directive 80/836/Euratom, with the aim of improving cooperation between its departments and national and local bodies in the Member States;

3. The Commission should be called upon to propose an amendment as soon as possible to Article 2 of Directive 89/618/Euratom with a view to making provision for radiological emergencies related to trafficking in radioactive substances.

4. Given the wide variations in both legislative and practical terms, in the way they track down and punish the illicit trafficking of radioactive substances and nuclear materials, the Member States should be called upon to harmonize their legislation in this field without delay.

(1)OJ L 246, 17.9.1980, p. 14
(2)OJ L 357, 7.12.1989, p. 31

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