On October 26, 2021, a UNICRI Team held a virtual meeting to discuss and consult with the Lao People's Democratic Republic authorities responsible for preventing the trafficking of radiological and nuclear (RN) material. The visit was conducted within the framework of the project “CONTACT – Enhancing capacities to prevent the trafficking of radiological and nuclear material in the Southeast Asia”.
During the Priority Identification Mission, UNICRI experts met with 20 State authorities in charge of countering RN trafficking and discussed issues such as legal and regulatory framework, inter-agency coordination mechanisms, available assets (equipment, human resources, and expertise), regional cooperation, as well as priorities and future actions.
The consultation involved representatives from the Ministry of Defense; Ministry of Public Security; Ministry of Finance; Ministry of Industry and Commerce; Ministry of Education and Sport; and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Priority Identification Mission is one of the cornerstones of the initial phase of the CONTACT project, and aimed at identifying points of strength and capabilities through discussions with the National Focal Points and nuclear security stakeholders. The virtual meeting was comprised of plenary sessions with all relevant ministries as well as bilateral meetings with government officials to address priority areas and specific needs.
Commenting on the outcomes of the mission, Ms. Moukdavanh SISOULITH, National Focal Point, Director of UN Political and Security Division, International Organizations Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated: “The work on the prevention of the trafficking of radiological and nuclear material in the Lao PDR is proven to be very challenging for our government authorities and with the issue of illicit radiological and nuclear (RN) trafficking as an emerging threat in Southeast Asia region, the increased threats requires expertise and adequate capabilities to address the lack of awareness and capacity on this matter. Throughout the identification priority discussion, our concerned authorities have in-depth consultation with UNICRI experts on analyzing the current situation, challenges and need for the Lao PDR for better preventing illicit RN trafficking. With the CONTACT Project of UNICRI that focuses on providing capacity building included the development of training curriculum on preventing radiological and nuclear trafficking and to respond to nuclear trafficking incident, based on national context, is highly relevant to the Lao PDR for improving our capabilities in this field. More importantly, by participating in the CONTACT will enhance our strong commitment to fulfill international obligations namely NPT, CPPNM, and UNSCR 1540. Department of International Organizations, as the national focal point for this project stand ready to work with UNICRI and our respective Ministries jointly implementing our identified activities under this project”
CONTACT – Southeast Asia aims at enhancing capacities of nuclear security stakeholders in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Philippines, and Viet Nam to devise and carry out operations in order to thwart radiological and nuclear (RN) trafficking attempts, as well as to foster regional cooperation and communication among the four partner countries. The project is funded by Global Affairs Canada’s Weapons Threat Reduction Program.