Ambassadors focus on fight against terrorism
NATO-Russia Council Ambassadors met to focus on counter-terrorism cooperation on 30 October. The NATO-Russia Council currently cooperates on several high profile counter-terrorism projects, and conducts a wide range of activities from information exchange to technology development.
Cooperation in the fight against terrorism has been on the NATO-Russia agenda since the Founding Act of 1997. Since 2004, a NATO-Russia Council Action Plan on Terrorism has also been in place. At their 30 October meeting Ambassadors assessed this year’s work on counter-terrorism projects and looked at possible new areas of cooperation in the future. Both the Stand-Off Detection of Explosives (STANDEX) and Cooperative Airspace Initiative (CAI) were successfully tested in live exercises this year, and Ambassadors discussed the results.
Cooperative Airspace Initiative
The Cooperative Airspace Initiative has developed the infrastructure and software that enables NATO-Russia Council nations to send air traffic information to each other across shared borders, for example in the case of a suspected hijacking of a civilian aircraft. Providing protocol and understanding for a coordinated response means that NRC nations’ fighter jets can be scrambled in response within minutes of a situation arising. This NRC capability was declared operational in December 2011. The Vigilant Skies live exercises in 2011 and 2013 proved the operational value of CAI for NATO-Russia Council nations. Testing of the connectivity to further NRC nations is underway to assess the possibilities of expanding the system.
Stand-Off Detection of Explosives
STANDEX is a technology developed by NATO and Russian Scientists, sponsored by the NATO-Russia Council through the Science for Peace and Security programme. The goal of STANDEX was to develop technology to detect concealed explosives on a suicide bomber from a distance and in a crowd. The technology successfully demonstrated its ability to detect explosives when it was tested earlier this year in a European metro system as part of a big city trial, the detailed results of which are being assessed by experts. If the STANDEX technology can be industrialized and brought into operation, it has the potential to protect millions of people using public transport across NATO-Russia Council nations, and even further afield. Preparations are currently underway for a potential NRC-sponsored follow-on project focusing on technologies for dealing with suicide bombers once they’ve been detected.
The Council was given a stark reminder of the importance of its work to cooperate on counter-terrorism when a bus was attacked in Volgograd, Russia on 21 October. NRC Defence Ministers condemned the horrific attack during their meeting on 23 October. Such incidents reinforce the value of NATO-Russia Council practical cooperation to protect all NATO-Russia Council nations’ citizens from the threat of terrorism.
Working Group develops transport security cooperation
The NATO-Russia Council Ad Hoc Working Group on the Terrorist Threat to the Euro-Atlantic Area also met in Brussels on November 13 to discuss transportation security. The group exchanged views on programmes to ensure cargo security as well on current security challenges related to protecting transport systems from terrorist attack.
The group has previously shared information on transport security and continues to discuss a wide range of related topics.