United States and Argentina Partner to Prevent Nuclear Smuggling

Press Release
Apr 13, 2010

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA – The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today announced that U.S. Ambassador to Argentina, Vilma Martinez, and the Minister for Foreign Relations, International Trade and Worship, Jorge Enrique Taiana, signed an agreement in Buenos Aires to begin a cooperative effort to detect, deter, and interdict illicit smuggling of nuclear and other radioactive material. The agreement paves the way for NNSA to work with Argentine Customs to install radiation detection equipment and associated infrastructure at the Port of Buenos Aires.

“The Megaports Agreement signed today solidifies the United States’ and Argentina’s joint commitment to the safety and security of our nations,” said NNSA Administrator Thomas D’Agostino. “This initiative will help NNSA meet its goal of equipping 100 ports with radiation detection equipment and play a critical role in NNSA’s efforts to implement President Obama’s nuclear security agenda.”

The work of NNSA’s Second Line of Defense Program’s Megaports Initiative aims to strengthen the capability of foreign governments to deter, detect, and interdict illicit trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive materials transiting the global maritime shipping system. The Megaports Initiative provides radiation detection equipment, training, and technical support to key international seaports to scan cargo containers for nuclear and other radioactive materials. The installation of radiation detection systems in Argentina represents a significant step forward for the Megaports Initiative, which is now operational at 30 ports around the world. Work is underway at additional ports in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

Additional information on NNSA’s Megaports Initiative is available online. This agreement complements NNSA’s other programs, which have been working successfully with Argentina in other areas to detect, secure, and dispose of dangerous nuclear and radiological material. NNSA has successfully completed the conversion of two research reactors from highly enriched uranium (HEU) to low enriched uranium which can not be used in a nuclear weapon. In addition, NNSA has repatriated more than 35 kilograms of HEU spent fuel and more than three kilograms of HEU fresh fuel to the United States for disposition.

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Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science in the nation’s national security enterprise. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability, and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; reduces the 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 U.S. and abroad.