NA (AFP) - A new organisation was unveiled here Monday aimed at promoting nuclear security around the globe so as to prevent terrorists from getting the bomb.
The World Institute for Nuclear Security (WINS), the brainchild of the Washington-based Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), will bring together nuclear security experts, the nuclear industry, governments and international organisations, said NTI head and former US senator Sam Nunn.
It will provide a forum for collecting and sharing information and best security practices so that dangerous materials can be kept out of terrorists' hands.
"There is no threat more potentially devastating than a terrorist nuclear attack," Nunn told a news conference.
"Terrorists have been seeking nuclear and radiological weapons for more than 10 years and the nuclear material they need is housed in hundreds of facilities around the globe," Nunn said.
"In seeking this material, terrorists will not go where there is the most material, but where that material is most vulnerable. Our global nuclear security is only as strong as the weakest link in the chain."
WINS, which will be based in Vienna and will have an initial staff of around five, will work closely with the UN atomic watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Indeed, the institute was launched on the sidelines of the IAEA's annual general conference here.
Nunn said WINS was starting with donations of six million dollars and planned to expand to a staff of around 10 in "a couple of years." IAEA Chief Mohamed ElBaradei welcomed the launch of the institute.
"With regard to nuclear security, we have come to realise that we need to become more intelligent," ElBaradei said.
"And we've come to realise that there's a lot to be done" in this area, ElBaradei said, adding: "It's our life and the life of our children" that is at stake.
WINS is not meant to be a policing organisation, NTI President Charles Curtis insisted. "It's an opportunity for professionals to share information. No regulatory framework is going to arise from this. We have to nurture and maintain the voluntary nature" of the institute, Curtis said.