Security at Czech Nuclear Power Plants


Sunday's U.S. led strike against Al Qaeda terrorist training camps and other strategic sites in Afghanistan has put the world on alert, with many countries taking security measures to reduce the possibility of terrorist reprisals. In the Czech Republic, one of the topics that has attracted the most public attention is the question of safety surrounding the country's two nuclear power plants, Temelin and Dukovany, in relation to possible terrorist actions. Jan Velinger has the details.

According to Temelin officials there is no need at this time to adopt further security measures at the Temelin nuclear power plant. Officials say that measures which were accepted soon after the September 11th bombings in the U.S. are sufficient to secure the facility's safety from possible terrorist reprisals. Pavel Pitterman, spokesman for the State Office for Nuclear Safety, agrees that all necessary precautions have been taken by Czech security forces.

"We are convinced that all safety measures are satisfactory at this time. You see, I can say that there will probably not be an increase, because another step concerning our safety measurements are just now on the highest level, and the people are in full activity and are fully prepared to start with concrete action against terrorism. It's not possible to say anything about the special measurements and the content of the special measures."

The problem according to Jiri Kominek, of Jane's Defence Weekly, is that terrorists are always one step ahead of the game, and so a terrorist attack can never fully be ruled out. However, Mr. Kominek believes that the Czech Republic is not a high priority for possible terrorist attacks. Mr. Kominek sides with the opinion that Czech army forces have taken all the necessary steps and have fulfilled all of NATO's requirements.

"The measures are in place, but if you look at the United States, for example, it's the wealthiest, and militarily the most powerful country on the planet, and they weren't able to prevent the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center in New York. It's all a bit of a lottery and no one wants to be the holder of the winning ticket. You can have all the mountains of analysis that you want, but you're always one step behind the perpetrator, behind the terrorist. So you can do all the analysis, and all the probabilities, and take all the precautions that you want. Because you're dealing with human beings, there is always room for error. And room for imagination."

Mr. Kominek also described what the situation must look like from the ground.

"They probably have elements of the counter-terrorist unit dispatched on the ground, but again, that's not going to do a great deal to prevent something happening in the air, and I guess the Air Force would have jets on stand-by, as well as anti-aircraft missile crews."

The possibility of a successful terrorist attack against one of the Czech Republic's nuclear power plants, is generally unthinkable. Mr. Pitterman, spokesman for the State Office for Nuclear Safety, was emphatic that the possibility of such an attack was unlikely, adding:

"No NPP [nuclear power plant], in the world can survive, without big problems, this attack [a strike using similar methods to the attack on the World Trade Center] . In Great Britain, the United States, France, nobody knows the results of this kind of terrorist attack in the case of NPP, because it is out of the scope of analysis which has been provided for the safety of this kind of NPP."

The bottom line is that a successful attack on any nuclear facility in Europe must never become a reality.