20 Mar 2007

NRC experts attend French nuclear weapons accident response exercise

NATO and Russian experts observed a French nuclear weapon accident response capabilities demonstration exercise, DENUX 07, on 20 and 21 March 2007.

The event was held in France, at the military airfield of Avord, as part of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) work programme.

DENUX 07 simulated a scenario in which a nuclear weapon convoy was involved in an aircraft accident. It focused on safeguarding weapon components and mitigating any consequences.

The exercise was part of an annual series of exercises, which practise overall crisis-management organization, test the emergency-response procedures of all response services concerned, and seek to ensure the safe and efficient management of any possible incidents involving nuclear weapons.

Defence ministry organizations, federal and regional civilian agencies, and local emergency services (police and medical personnel) were involved.

About 60 civilian and military experts from NATO countries, Russia and NATO Headquarters attended the exercise. It was the first time that Alliance and Russian representatives together observed a French exercise of this kind.

France invited the NRC Group of Nuclear Experts to attend the exercise, which is the fourth in a series of field demonstrations organised by NRC nuclear powers.  Russia held the first exercise in 2004, followed by United Kingdom in 2005 and the United States in 2006.

As was the case with previous demonstrations, the attendance of representatives of NRC member states at DENUX 07 served to enhance practical cooperation and common understanding of nuclear weapon accident response procedures between NATO and Russia. This underscores the value of the NRC as a forum for consultation and exchange of information of significant substance.