By Ms. Elena Formicone, Analyst, IB Consultancy, Netherlands.
Despite its domestic political instability Peru managed to establish itself before the breakout of Covid-19 pandemic as one of the most flourishing countries of South America, as a result of a liberalization of its economic system which is boosted by the considerable heterogeneity of its natural resources.
In that regard, it is possible to comprehend the geopolitical asset of this country, which is characterized, among others, by strong ties both with the US and China, mainly based on trade of its natural resources and security matters. In fact, Peru established a solid bond laid upon mutual security goals with the US, which in return has been offering economic support aimed at facing internal issues such as the fight against drug cartels and the containment of their growing power in order to establish functioning and safe democratic institutions.
As a matter of fact, just in 2021 the US donated the Peruvian government over 100 million dollars for said purposes, along with humanitarian aid and investment to a large number of projects, including the development of a well-functioning machinery to handle natural and mineral resources.
On the other hand, Peru has been strengthening its diplomatic and mostly economic relationship with China since 2009, when the two parties ratified a Free Trade Agreement, making Beijing a “comprehensive strategic partner” and one of the main investors of Peruvian natural resources. Moreover, these ties have been further enhanced through military cooperation based on Chinese regular endowment of military supplies, such as military vehicles.
On a regional level, despite the lack of institutionalized defensive structures, Peru holds sounds bilateral and multilateral security relations with its neighboring countries, being, among all, a member of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), and its Council of South American Defense (CDS), a system based on defensive cooperation and mutual assistance. In fact, as proven for instance by its participation in the Grupo de Lima, Peru has proved to be a reliable partner thanks to its commitment in settling the Venezuelan crisis and welcoming fleeing migrants.
Concerning the internal security and defense strategy, this country is still undergoing serious instability and turmoil due to the lack of solid democratic institutions able to represent an ever growingly unsatisfied and fragmented people, deeply weakened by the Covid-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, Peru is attempting to keep security and defense as main national priorities, as demonstrated by the release of its National Security and Defense Policy (PSDN) by the National Security and Defense Council (COSEDENA) in 2017, laying the foundation for the formulation of a possible National Security Strategy, which unfortunately is still missing.
In the meantime, the Peruvian security system has been built upon external and internal major threats such as transnational crime, illegal arms trafficking, illegal mining, drug trafficking and terrorism, all the while recently approaching towards the CBRNe field and its assessment. As a matter of fact, although Peru does not display a national strategy aimed at tackling said menaces, its defensive institutions have shown their awareness regarding the increasingly spread of CBRN explosives and the deriving threats.
In its attempt to approach an harmonious and solid strategy to cope with CBRNe risks, Peru has signed and ratified many international convenances, including the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT); the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CBTB) Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (CWC); Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Biological and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (BTWC); International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism; the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, and the Outer Space Treaty.
Furthermore, Peruvian rising national and international commitment in creating a robust strategy in preventing nuclear threats is symbolized by its ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which entered into force in March 2022, officially declaring itself as a nuclear weapon free country.
Nonetheless, Peru is not a party of main export controls regimes such as the Wassenaar Arrangement, Zangger Committee, and the Australian Group.
At the national level, following the ratification of the CWC, the Peruvian government has established the National Council for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (CONAPAQ), which acts as guarantor of the obligations deriving from said treaty and as the main point of contact with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the other members. In this respect, CONAPAQ has recently started to work on the creation of a National Protocol aimed at preventing and tackling CBRNe threats and possible incidents.
Overview of CBRNe and IED Stakeholders
Even though Peru does not boast an ad-hoc counter CBRNe strategy, it has demonstrated its efforts in developing a well-functioning system aimed at facing this kind of menaces. Alongside with the CONAPAQ, Peruvian response strategy to possible CBRNe incidents is contemplated under the National Disaster Risk Management System (SINAGER), which appoints the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Health as the responsible decision-making bodies in said matters. The idea behind SINAGER is to outline an integrated protocol, through which counter incidents or disaster actions are tackled in a harmonized manner by different bodies from several Ministries.
In fact, this country presents different bodies, both from the civilian and military levels, that are suitable to intervene in case of a CBRNe threat or incident.
With said regard, from the military perspective, the Peruvian Army plays a significant role, holding the responsibility as one of the main first responders. Since 2015, it has been undertaking a process of modernization envisaged at addressing this sort of incidents, by establishing the National Development Support Command (COADNE) together with its directorate (DIRADNE), which are administrative bodies accountable for launching, leading, and coordinating army’s intervention activities concerning disaster risk management.
Although Peru lacks a fully-fledged CBNRe counter unit, the Army has introduced in 2018 its First Multipurpose Brigade (Primera Brigada Multipropósito), called “Mariscal del Perú Eloy Gaspar Ureta Montehermoso”, a rapid response unit constituted by the Rapid Intervention Unit against Disasters (CIRD), the Nuclear Defense Unit, the Health Battalion, the Unit against Social Conflict, and a Fumigation/Public Health Team, aimed at tackling and responding, among others, HazMat and CBRN incidents.
On the civil standpoint, the Voluntary Firefighters Corps of Peru (Cuerpo General de Bomberos Voluntarios del Perú – CGBVP) are appointed under the Ministry of Interior as first responders in case of HazMat incidents. More precisely, the National Directorate of Bomberos (Intendencia Nacional de Bomberos del Perú – INBP) deliberates on the level of competences, functions, and organizational structure of the Bomberos intervention to address HazMat and Improvised Explosive Devices Incidents (IED).
Alongside with the Bomberos, the other civilian part involved in said scenarios is the Peruvian National Police (PNP), more precisely the Emergency Division (DIVEME) and the EOD Unit (Unidad de Desactivación de Explosivos de la Policía Nacional – UDEX).
As previously mentioned, together with the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Health embodies a cornerstone for Peruvian fight against CBRNe threats, thanks to the “Sistema de Atención Móvil de Urgencia” (SAMU), by outlining plans and strategies to implement urgent and emergency mobile care responses, as well as carrying out monitoring actions.
Lastly, another entity that has a significant impact on the CBRN sphere is the Peruvian Institute of Nuclear Energy (IPEN), which is a public agency falling under the Ministry of Energy and Mines authority. Its main goal revolves around the coordination and preparation of plans aimed at facing mainly radiological and nuclear emergencies, but also the regulation, supervision, and development of activities that would allow nuclear energy to enhance national development.
In case of radiological and nuclear emergencies, it also carries out the evaluation and measurement of the level of radiations and contamination, recommendation of measures for the protection of people and the environment, mitigation of consequences, and last but not least, coordination of the emergency plan.
Peru military expenditure has not been following a linear pattern over the years. In fact, as reported by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), this market underwent fluctuating trends, from a peak reached in 1977 when the defense budget embodied the 8.2% of this country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), to 2021 when it dropped to the lowest share, with an expenditure of roughly 2.5 billion dollars, representing just 1.1% of its GDP. Nonetheless, it is surprisingly interested to observe that this country’s armed forces were the most engaged in the whole South America during 2021.
According to the estimation, Peru military spending for 2022 will slightly increase, with a value of almost 2.7 billion dollars, while it also envisages raising up to 6% its Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) between 2023-2027.
Based on the data, Peru’s defense main spending is allocated for the enlargement and modernization of military and naval infrastructures, alongside with vehicles, vessels, aircrafts, radars and Electro-Optical Infrared Systems, trainings, and exercises.
Peru is also one of the main arm exporters of the whole Latin America, counting almost 6 million revenues in 2021 from exportations to USA, Chile, and Australia, while on the other hand, importing approximately 11 million worth military capabilities mainly from Spain, Italy, USA, Austria, Czech Republic, and Brazil.
According to the Preparation Plan for the Security Sector issued by the Peruvian Ministry of Defense in 2021, it is of vital importance to develop capabilities for allowing the Peruvian army to tackle possible CBRNe menaces. In fact, even though the estimated costs have not been released yet, it has been disclosed that by the year 2025 Peru will be able to implement a set of adequate capabilities for effective CBRNe responses.
In the meantime, the Peruvian government has been taking advantage of the American support, more precisely the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), which donated in 2021 a significant amount of equipment and tools for countering CBRNe threats and incidents destined to the INBP and CGBVP, worth approximately 700 thousand US dollars. This significant contribution highly impacted on the enhancement of the Peruvian counter CBRNe capabilities. In fact, the Bomberos had the unprecedented opportunity to be trained under the supervision of DTRA delegates, which instructed them on how to use, handle and adapt said equipment to each emergency situation.
has been largely investing on cross-agencies trainings, exercises and courses aimed at addressing CBRNe threats. As a matter of fact, in October 2022, the Ministry of Interior has organized a training course, titled “Response against Weapons of Mass Destruction of a Nuclear, Radiological, Biological and Chemical Nature”, directed to 44 agents of the Emergency Division (DIVEME) and the EOD Unit (UDEX), who were trained on the recognition and identification of hazardous materials, CBRN national and international terrorism, personal protection equipment, detection and decontamination, alongside with an in-depth study on how CBRN agents could be used as weapons of mass destruction, up-to-date police protocols, criminal legislation and incident command procedures.
Overall, it is straightforward to perceive that the Peruvian government has been striving to strengthen the security of its citizens by any means. In fact, a Strategic Plan for PNP has been recently released, addressing a variety of national threats, including CBRNe terrorism. To face such challenges, this plan allocated just in 2022 over 50 million dollars for the establishment of new police stations, investigation units, specialized units, rescue service, and tactical divisions, alongside other 1.5 million allocated to the Bomberos and their development. Moreover, the Strategic Plan envisages investments of up to 115 million dollars value by 2024 for police equipment, including drones, patrol vehicles, and firetrucks.
Programs and Joint Operations/Exercises in the field of CBRNe
As previously mentioned, the Peruvian government is extremely engaged in developing state of the art knowhow and capacities to increase the level of preparedness aimed at tackling CBRNe incidents, through cross-sector exercises and trainings.
In fact, in July 2022, a milestone training organized by the PNP, the CGBVP and Ministry of Health was held. Under this circumstance, the involved units showed their response capabilities against hazardous materials and CBRN agents under the supervision of high-ranking delegates from the organizing parties, and on real life scenarios. For instance, the Bomberos intervened in a situation of identification of contaminated material; members from the IPEN and UDEX countered an emergency situation concerning combined toxic and explosive gas; and the First Multipurpose Brigade faced a high-risk situation involving toxic agents, in which they had to rescue wounded civilians, while personnel from Sistema de Atención Móvil de Urgencia (SAMU) sprang into action for identification, recognition and decontamination procedures.
Furthermore, the Army has been investing on the realization of courses and trainings on new CBRNe technologies and material, addresses to both civil and military representatives, as the workshop on the “Management of new CBRN technologies and HazMat” which took place in 2021, in partnership with the National Development Support Directorate (DIRADNE), the United States Military Assistance Consultative Group (GRUCAM) and the IPEN, with the goal of boosting counter CBRNe measure system.
The CONAPAC, which is currently committed in developing a National Protocol for countering CBRN threats, also plays an important role in organizing trainings. As a matter of fact, in 2022, it launched a series of exercises focused on CBRNe identification and recognition, and decontamination for first responders.
Through its CONAPAC, Peru is highly involved also at the international level with commitments and duties deriving from the OPCW. Among others, Peru has hosted a conference organized by the OPCW, with the purpose of strengthening international cooperation in this field, sharing practices and skills to avert CBRNe incidents and to develop robust capabilities.
Moreover, it is worth mentioning that Peru will be the hosting nation of NCT South America 2023, which is organized by the NCT team in partnership with CGBVP. This represents a cornerstone for Peru, since it will be the host of an important event gathering high-ranking personnel from the South American CBRNe community, alongside with military, civilian and industry delegates, offering a platform for knowhow and skills exchange.
Despite the internal instability and turmoil affecting the democratic display of this country, Peru has been showing its commitment in increasing its defensive and security budget, with a specific attention to the ever-growing challenges deriving from CBRNe sphere. In fact, even though a fully-fledged counter CBRNe machinery is lacking, as well as a national CBRN security strategy or CBRNE military unit, this country has been investing on the development of CBRN capabilities and skills, through cooperation with international actors, such as the US and the OPCW, which are able to transmit the know-how via joint conferences, workshops, and trainings, also with donations and financial support.
Therefore, a possible CBRNe national strategy could be expected to be launched in the next upcoming years.
About the author:
Ms. Elena Formicone is an Analyst at IB Consultancy. Her professional background includes an internship at the Italian Embassy in France and over 3 years’ experience in the Italian public administration, more precisely at the University of Pavia.
Regarding her academic portfolio, she holds a Master’s Degree in World Politics and International Relations from the University of Pavia, a Bachelor’s Degree in Political, Social and International Sciences from the University of Bologna (Italy), including a year abroad at Sciences Po Bordeaux (France), and a Training Certificate in Cyber Geopolitics and International Relations from LUMSA University (Italy).