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15 Sep, 2007 14:15

Mock terror attack tests Russia's nuclear security

Russia's security and emergency services have been involved in a weeks-long training exercise designed to test security at the country's nuclear facilities. A daring lifelike scenario was enacted in Chelyabinsk region in the Urals.

The aim of Forpost 2007 was to see how secure Russia's nuclear sites really are. Playing the part of terrorists, members of FSB's Special Forces penetrated a secret nuclear site in the city of Trechgorny. The region is home to one of the Russian Nuclear Agency's restricted areas.

The scenario involved the taking of hostages at the facility. The 'terrorists' also planted a bomb, threatening widescale nuclear contamination.

The exercise required a high level of co-ordination between various agencies and services. Railway, aviation, interior troops, emergency units, the centre for medical catastrophes as well as the administrations of ten other cities near Trechgorny were involved.

During the exercises, the ‘terrorists’ had some success. They captured a train carriage with nuclear components and took several hostages. At the peak of the staged crisis, they planted explosives at the nuclear site and attempted to flee using their captives as human shields.

FSB Special Forces stormed the moving train, while military engineers destroyed a bomb left behind using a robot equipped with with a hydro cannon.

Once the Special Forces secured the train, the contamination units moved in – just in case its nuclear load was damaged.

A field hospital was set up on the outskirts of Trechgorny, and all those taking part in the training were disinfected in the nearby chemical laboratory.

Although it was just an exercise, the security forces will learn a lot about how to react in the event of a real terrorist attack on a nuclear facility.

Lieut. Gen. Aleksandr Krivyakov, Chief of the FSB administration for the Chelyabinsk region, summed up the importance of the event: “They’ve succeeded at something and so have we. But our goal is not to define who won and who lost. Our goal is to determine the weak spots so that we can work on them,” he said.