Administrator D'Agostino's Remarks on U.S.-Georgian Cooperation

Speech
Jun 14, 2010

Thank you, Director Grigalishvili, for that kind introduction.

I am very pleased to be here in Tbilisi to highlight the strong U.S.-Georgian cooperation on nuclear security issues.

Let me begin by thanking our Georgian hosts for the gracious reception I have received so far, and for their strong commitment to working together prevent nuclear smuggling and nuclear proliferation.

Charge D’Affairs Logsdon, thank you as well for the excellent work you are doing here in Tbilisi.

I am proud of the strong cooperation between the United States and Georgia on nuclear security issues. Our countries and our Presidents share a commitment to securing vulnerable nuclear material and keeping it 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.

Last year, President Obama chose to use his first foreign policy speech and his first trip overseas as President to highlight the dangers posed by nuclear weapons and materials.

In his historic speech in Prague, he called the danger of a terrorist acquiring nuclear weapons "the most immediate and extreme threat to global security" and promised to lead an international effort to secure vulnerable material around the world.

One year later, the President hosted 47 heads of state in a major international nuclear security summit that set out to rally the international community around this common challenge.

I am proud to say that the Republic of Georgia has been one of our strongest partners in that effort.

Our shared goal is to reduce the probability of nuclear materials being fashioned into a weapon of mass destruction or a radiological device known as a "dirty bomb" that could be used against our people or our allies.

My organization, the National Nuclear Security Administration, has worked very closely with our counterparts here in Georgia to strengthen export controls, enhance security at the border, and upgrade security at sites with radiological sources.

• Together, we have installed radiological and nuclear detection equipment at 11 border crossings, two seaports, two airports and one national training center here in Georgia.

• The Portal Monitor you see here before us is one example of the equipment we have provided to help Georgian customs scan cargo coming through the Tbilisi airport for nuclear or radiological material.

• More than 300 Georgian border police and over 40 customs officers have received training on the operation and maintenance of radiation portal monitors.

• We have worked with Georgia’s Nuclear and Radiation Safety Service to upgrade security at 5 hospitals and 1 research institute, each with at least one high-activity radioactive source.

• We have worked together to construct a secure national radioactive waste storage facility and provided equipment and training for locating and identifying orphaned radioactive sources.

• And, together, we have worked to substantially strengthen Georgia’s export control capabilities and trained customs instructors and frontline enforcement officers on an annual basis in the visual identification of strategic commodities.

This is a strong partnership rooted in our shared commitment to promoting nuclear security.

Today, I have had the opportunity to see that partnership in action.

• Earlier today, I had the opportunity to tour the Red Bridge Border Crossing with Azerbaijan – a very impressive and professional operation.

• We also visited the Georgian National Communication System (NCS), where a national communications system installation to be completed this year will allow near real-time remote access of every portal monitor at centralized location in Tbilisi.

Preventing nuclear terrorism and nuclear proliferation is a global challenge that requires a global response. After my visit today, I know

I will conclude by thanking our colleagues here in Georgia for their partnership, and for the hospitality they have shown.

Thank you, and I look forward to your questions.