Clegg offers to help counter trafficking of nuclear matter
LONDON BRITAIN plans to share previously secret expertise on detecting the illegal trafficking of radiological material and halting potential nuclear terrorism, the country’s deputy prime minister told a security summit on Tuesday.
Speaking at an international nuclear security conference in Seoul, South Korea, Nick Clegg said Britain would work with law enforcement agencies from across the world to offer help on limiting the spread of illicit nuclear material.
Disclosing previously classified details of Britain’s work against nuclear terrorism, he said that since 2001 the country had used high-tech equipment to detect radiological and nuclear material being moved into the UK, though he did not offer specifics on the type of technology used.
Clegg also told delegates that Britain’s military maintains emergency teams ready to respond to dirty bombs, crude weapons intended to create a radioactive cloud in an urban setting, or other improvised nuclear devices which could potentially be used by terrorists.
“We have for some time had specialist teams ready to deploy, detect and defuse a terrorist nuclear device,” Clegg said.
Clegg told the summit that he was publicising the previously secret work because Britain planned to open a new nuclear forensics laboratory aimed at sharing techniques with allies.
Britain had “been using cutting edge technology for over a decade to guard our borders against a nuclear terrorist threat. It is time to share that information so we can all raise our game,” he said.
Although he did not offer specifics on the type of technologies involved, Clegg said Britain would open the laboratory at the UK’s main atomic weapons research centre in Aldermaston, southern England.
Britain is regarded as a world leader in work to trace the source of nuclear or radiological material from socalled fingerprints gleaned from specific chemical or physical characteristics.