09:28 GMT22 October 2020
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    In a bid to boost national security, Norway's emergency services will receive around-the-clock support in handling chemical, biological and radioactive material, a step that, according to the Nordic country's Justice Minister Per-Willy Amundsen, will allow the civil society to benefit from military expertise in times of crisis or terrorist attack.

    According to the new agreement between several Norwegian ministries and the Defense Research Institute (FFI) signed on Wednesday, a 24-hour hotline will be established for citizens to report suspected findings of the most dangerous substances in circulation, including chemical, biological, radioactive substances, as well as explosives.

    Justice Minister Per-Willy Trudvang Amundsen argued that the agreement will significantly strengthen terror and crisis preparedness in Norway.

    "It's about facilitating the use of the available resources in the best way possible. This way, we can handle a situation even if the worst happens," Amundsen told national broadcaster NRK.

    FFI senior scientist Bent-Tore Røen argued that the agreement could also be important should a terror situation occur, or if dangerous substances were to be used on Norwegian soil.

    "We cannot ignore the possibility that chemical, biological, or radiological substances could be used against the civilian population in Norway. In addition, there may be threats in the form of explosives. Then it's vital to have a laboratory that can quickly clarify what it's all about," Røen said, emphasizing that analysis time could be reduced to several hours.

    Røen also stressed the importance of the agreement for everyday situations to stave the circulation of dangerous substances, recounting an episode from 2013, when FFI experts had to address a leakage of ozone gas.

    According to the agreement, the FFI will receive an annual compensation of NOK 400,000 ($50,000) to operate the hotline. Additionally, the ministries involved will reimburse the FFI for various assignments carried out.

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    The Oslo Fire and Rescue Service, which has already established a contingency agreement with the FFI, hailed this cooperation as particularly important.

    "We are very pleased that there is now a national resource, where we can call and encounter an expert at the other end," Jon Myroldhaug of the Oslo Fire and Rescue Service said.


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    security, terrorism, explosives, biological weapons, chemical exposure, radioactive materials, Scandinavia, Norway
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