WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. and Bulgarian officials last night agreed to expand cooperation to prevent the smuggling of dangerous nuclear and radiological materials. The Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior signed a memorandum of understanding that outlines plans to install radiation detection equipment at multiple international points of entry and exit in Bulgaria.
"NNSA is committed to detecting and deterring attempts to smuggle nuclear materials or devices into the United States or other countries around the world," said NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation William Tobey. "Our agreement with Bulgaria is another opportunity to build upon our international partnerships to detect illicit nuclear activity regardless of origin or destination."
NNSA has been working with the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior and the Bulgarian Border Police over the past several years to maintain previously installed radiation detection equipment. The agreement between NNSA and the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior will allow NNSA to install new, improved radiation detection and integrated communications equipment at multiple border crossings, airports and seaports in Bulgaria, as well as to provide training on the use of this equipment.
NNSA's Second Line of Defense Program works collaboratively with foreign governments at border crossings, airports, seaports and other points of entry to install specialized radiation detection equipment and train officials to detect smuggled nuclear and other radioactive materials. Similar equipment has been installed at over 160 sites around the world.
Also last night, the Defense Department's Defense Threat Reduction Agency signed an agreement to formalize and strengthen U.S.-Bulgarian cooperation to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction and to mitigate the impact of any incident or accident involving nuclear, chemical, biological or radiological components. In addition, U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman met with Bulgaria's Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev to discuss ways to strengthen Bulgarian energy security. Both noted the importance of increased cooperation in nuclear power as well as regional oil and gas pipeline options to further this goal.
Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a separately organized agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the United States and abroad.
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