U.S. and Israel to Cooperate on Detecting Illicit Shipments of Nuclear Material

Press Release
Dec 7, 2005
New equipment will help thwart terrorist attempts to use seaports to smuggle nuclear or other radioactive materials that could be used in a nuclear device or a "dirty bomb"

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The United States and Israel today signed an agreement to begin a joint effort to help detect the smuggling of nuclear and other radioactive material by installing special equipment at one of Israel's busiest seaports to detect and interdict illicit shipments of nuclear and other radioactive materials. The effort is part of a nonproliferation program of the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) that works with foreign partners to detect, deter, and interdict illicit trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive materials.

NNSA's Second Line of Defense program will work with Israel's Ministry of Transport to install the equipment and train its operators. NNSA Administrator Linton F. Brooks joined Israel's Director of the Shipping and Ports Administration Arie Rona in signing the agreement.

"The United States and Israel must join together in combating the threat of nuclear smuggling and international terrorism," Brooks said. "I know that our joint efforts under this project will directly contribute to our mutual nonproliferation objectives and to the safety and security of our two nations and the global maritime system."

This is the latest in a series of agreements under NNSA's Megaports Initiative, a program aimed at preventing illicit shipments of nuclear and other radioactive material through the global maritime system. The Megaports Initiative is part of the broader Second Line of Defense Program, in which NNSA works with foreign partners to equip border crossings, airports, and seaports with radiation detection equipment and to provide training to appropriate law enforcement officials. The specialized radiation detection technology deployed under this program is based on technologies originally developed by NNSA laboratories as part of overall U.S. government efforts to guard against proliferation of weapons materials.

According to a statement issued by Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Director General Ron Prosor said, "Israel fully supports the NNSA-sponsored Megaports Initiative and is grateful for its inclusion in this project. It is an important element in the overall effort of the two governments in combating illicit trafficking of nuclear and radioactive materials. This initiative provides an important defensive element to protect Israeli ports and ensures that exports from Israel to the U.S. are screened to prevent the threat of radiological terror. Israel will continue to work and cooperate with the U.S. government in combating terrorism in all its aspects."

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 energy. 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 U.S. and abroad.

Media contact(s):
Bryan Wilkes, NNSA (202) 586-7371

Number: NA-05-32