From February 17-19, 2015, members of DHS’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) joined a U.S. delegation, led by the State Department, to participate in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) Implementation and Assessment Group’s Mid-Year Meeting in Rabat, Morocco. DNDO provided subject matter expertise for this event and played a key role in the planning and facilitation of Atlas Lion, the featured table-top exercise in which the 139 attendees from 30 countries and three official observer organizations participated.
The Atlas Lion scenario focused on a hypothetical but realistic international terrorist event involving a radiological dispersal device, commonly known as a dirty bomb. Exercise participants systematically explored how such an incident might unfold. Participants identified critical priorities, questions, and required actions senior leaders may face with regard to the detection of such a threat, the nuclear forensic analysis of radioactive material to help determine its nature and origin, and the response to mitigate the potential consequences.
This exercise advanced the ability of the United States and its international partners to understand the key aspects of a developing radiological terrorist incident, beginning with the initial receipt of information of potential stolen radioactive material. The lessons learned will aid us and our partners in our collective efforts to prevent, detect, and respond to such an incident.
Preventing a nuclear or radiological terrorist attack against the United States is the mission of the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office. Collaborating with international partners in exercises such as Atlas Lion and the activities of the GICNT is vital to our efforts to help build global capabilities to combat nuclear terrorism.