Administrator Highlights U.S.-Georgian Nuclear Security Cooperation in Tbilisi

Press Release
Jun 14, 2010

TBILISI, GEORGIA – National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Administrator Thomas P. D’Agostino today highlighted the strong U.S.-Georgian cooperation on nuclear security issues during a day-long visit to the Republic of Georgia. In addition to meeting with senior Georgian government officials, Administrator D’Agostino toured several nuclear security projects funded through NNSA’s Second Line of Defense (SLD) Program, including the Red Bridge Border Crossing with Azerbaijan -- the earliest SLD-deployment in Georgia.

“I am proud of the strong cooperation between the United States and Georgia on important security issues,” Administrator D’Agostino said during a media availability in Tbilisi. “Our countries and our Presidents share a commitment to keeping nuclear and radiological material out of the hands of terrorists and smugglers. I am honored to be here in Georgia to get a firsthand look at the impact of our cooperation in recent years.”

In April 2009, President Obama outlined an ambitious agenda to secure vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years, calling the danger of a terrorist acquiring nuclear weapons "the most immediate and extreme threat to global security." In this year's State of the Union, he called the threat of nuclear weapons, "the greatest danger to the American people." In order to meet that challenge, the President's FY2011 Budget Request includes close to $2.7 billion for the National Nuclear Security Administration's Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation program -- an increase of 25.7 percent over FY2010.

Included in that request is NNSA's Second Line of Defense (SLD) program, which works around the world to strengthen the capability of foreign governments to deter, detect, and interdict illicit trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive materials across international borders and through the global maritime shipping system. The goal is to reduce the probability of these materials being fashioned into a weapon of mass destruction or a radiological dispersal device ("dirty bomb") to be used against the United States or its key allies and international partners.

Under the SLD program, NNSA works collaboratively with foreign partners to equip border crossings, airports and seaports with radiation detection equipment and associated communication equipment. The SLD program provides training in the use of the systems for appropriate law enforcement officials and initial system sustainability support as the host government assumes operational responsibility for the equipment.

To date, NNSA has installed radiological and nuclear detection equipment at over 300 sites at 30 ports around the world. As of October 2009, NNSA has installed specialized detection equipment at 11 border crossings, two seaports, two airports and one national training center in Georgia. More than 300 Georgian border police and over 40 customs officers have received training the operation and maintenance of radiation portal monitors.

During his visit to the Republic of Georgia, Administrator D’Agostino toured the Red Bridge Border Crossing with Azerbaijan. Built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Red Bridge is the first SLD-deployment in Georgia. The installation of radiation detection equipment provided by NNSA was completed in 2006.

Administrator D’Agostino also visited the Georgian National Communication System (NCS), where a national communications system installation will allow real-time remote visibility of every portal monitor at a centralized location in Tbilisi.

In addition to Second Line of Defense work, NNSA has worked with its partners in Georgia to provide security upgrades at sites with radioactive sources and enhance Georgia's national export control systems.

Through NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative, NNSA has worked with Georgia’s Nuclear and Radiation Safety Service to upgrade security at five hospitals and one research institute, each with at least one high-activity radioactive source. NNSA has also worked with its Georgian partners to construct a secure national radioactive waste storage facility and provided equipment and training for locating and characterizing orphan radioactive sources.

Through its International Nonproliferation Export Control Program, NNSA has worked to strengthen substantially Georgian capabilities to regulate strategic commodity transfers. This has included training indigenous instructors to train hundreds of frontline enforcement officers on an annual basis in the visual identification of strategic commodities.

NNSA also has engaged over 80 scientists at four institutes across Georgia with a focus in microbiology, medical industry and material science through the Global Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention (GIPP). GIPP establishes partnerships with former WMD personnel throughout the world, to collaboate on the development of civil-use technologies. For a photo gallery highlighting the Administrator’s visit to the Republic of Georgia, click here offsite link.

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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.