NNSA, Sultanate of Oman Conduct WMD Terrorism-Related Commodities Workshop and Counterterrorism Tabletop Exercise

Press Release
Aug 20, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Recognizing the shared threat posed by weapons of mass destruction (WMD) terrorism across the globe, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Sultanate of Oman today announced the completion of a week-long Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives (CBRNe) Commodity Identification Training and Interdiction Tabletop Exercise at the Royal Oman Police (ROP) Customs Academy in Muscat. The course was a collaboration between U.S. and Omani officials that brought together interagency officials to strengthen their capacity to detect and interdict smuggled CBRNe-related materials, components, and equipment that could be used in a terrorist act.

Aimed at training participants on the visual recognition of commodities that could be used for CBRNe purposes, the course highlighted methods that a terrorist might use when seeking to acquire or develop CBRNe weapons, as well as how such items would look—including how they might be marked, labelled, and packaged. These identification and interdiction capabilities are critical to combatting the illicit smuggling of CBRNe-related commodities that could be misused by terrorists.

Building on the commodity identification training, the capstone tabletop exercise, "Khamsin Discovery," used a fictional WMD terrorism-related smuggling scenario that required a broad range of actions to successfully detect, identify, and interdict CBRNe items that could be used by terrorists for illicit purposes. Participating ROP officials worked together to assess and respond to the fictional attempt by terrorists to smuggle CBRNe-related items for a terror attack. The goal of the tabletop exercise was to identify the suspicious “red flags” associated with potential WMD terrorism-related incidents, provide first-hand CBRNe interdiction experience, and strengthen cooperation between the various agencies charged with preventing and interdicting illegal shipments. At the end of the exercise, the Omani experts applied their significant expertise to successfully foil the fictional plot.

"This exercise was a great example of cooperation to reduce nuclear terrorism risks," said Deputy Under Secretary of Energy for Counterterrorism and Counterproliferation Steven Aoki. "Readiness and international cooperation are key, and we made great progress on both fronts."

“We are pleased to work with the Sultanate of Oman on such important nonproliferation initiatives. These types of initiatives contribute to global security and are vital to stemming proliferation and illicit trafficking,” said Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Anne Harrington.

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Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.