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Press Release

U.S., Djibouti Commission Radiation Detection Equipment at the Port of Djibouti
Jul 6, 2011

Equipment helps secure borders, enhance nonproliferation efforts and counter nuclear smuggling



WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Djiboutian Ministry of Equipment and Transport today announced the commissioning of radiation detection equipment at the Port of Djibouti as part of cooperative efforts to prevent the illicit smuggling of nuclear and other radiological material.

In a ceremony today at the Port of Djibouti, Chargé d’Affaires Paul Pometto and Djibouti Minister of Equipment and Transport Mohamed Moussa Ibrahim Balala highlighted the deployment of the new detectors as an example of the cooperation between the two countries to prevent nuclear terrorism.

“Our partnership at the Port of Djibouti underscores a continued, shared commitment to combating the illicit trafficking of nuclear and other radioactive material,” said NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Anne Harrington. “With the commissioning of radiation detection equipment at this port, we have increased the level of nuclear security at one of the major shipping points in the Horn of Africa, bringing us one step closer to implementing President Obama’s nuclear security agenda.”

The specialized equipment, which scans loaded cargo containers for the presence of potentially dangerous nuclear and other radioactive materials, was installed under NNSA's Megaports Initiative in partnership with the Djibouti Ministry of Equipment and Transport, Djibouti Coast Guard, and Djibouti Customs. The radiation detection system began operations in mid-March and the Djiboutian Coast Guard is responding to all radiation alarms.

This commissioning ceremony is the culmination of over two years of work at the Port of Djibouti. Since 2009, NNSA has been working to equip the Port of Djibouti with radiation detection equipment, to provide training to Djiboutian officials on how to operate and maintain the equipment, and to educate terminal operators on the potential dangers of nuclear and other radioactive materials. In April of this year, NNSA’s Office of Emergency Operations worked in collaboration with NNSA’s Second Line of Defense (SLD) Program and the Government of Djibouti to hold a week-long training course in countering the illicit movement of nuclear and other radiological material. Additionally, NNSA’s work at the Port of Djibouti was supported by technical experts from the Los Alamos, Pacific Northwest, and Sandia National Laboratories.

The Megaports Initiative’s work at the Port of Djibouti is part of NNSA’s SLD Program, which works collaboratively with foreign governments at land border crossings, airports and seaports worldwide to install specialized radiation detection equipment and associated communications equipment. The SLD Program provides training to host government border guard officials and other personnel to detect smuggled nuclear and other radioactive materials. SLD also has a strong sustainability program to ensure the continued effective use of the equipment. NNSA has installed similar equipment at more than 350 sites and at 36 Megaports around the world.

For a fact sheet on NNSA’s Second Line of Defense Program, click here.

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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.