In March, National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Principal Deputy Administrator Madelyn Creedon traveled to China to participate in activities related to NNSA’s cooperative engagement with various Chinese ministries on nuclear security.
Creedon was accompanied by Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator Dave Huizenga and Associate Deputy Administrator Art Atkins. They later joined U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, who was also in China for meetings with Chinese counterparts.
The trip was a great success, according to Creedon. “When it comes to nuclear security, the U.S. and China have a very good relationship,” she said. “I was pleased to visit with colleagues at Customs and the China Atomic Energy Authority, as well as others involved in bilateral efforts with the Department of Energy.”
As part of the trip, the NNSA delegation visited the Port of Yangshan in Shanghai to observe a demonstration of a radiation detection system installed by China’s General Administration of Customs (GACC) with the technical assistance of NNSA. The system is designed to detect and intercept nuclear and other radiological materials.
The Port of Yangshan processes the more than 35 million shipping containers’ worth of cargo each year, making it one of the busiest ports in the world. Currently, the system at the port scans all outgoing cargo for the presence of radiation. GACC, on its own initiative and at its own cost, is expanding the system to cover all cargo entering the port. In addition, it is deploying a similar system to the Port of Tianjin, near Beijing.
“Our relationship with GACC is particularly strong,” Huizenga said. “They have been a model partner, working jointly with NNSA in the Port of Yangshan and embracing the importance of radiation scanning as a key element of preventing nuclear smuggling. We are encouraged to see GACC implementing and expanding this work to other Chinese ports at their own cost.”
Later in the trip, the NNSA team joined Secretary Moniz in Beijing at the official opening of the Center of Excellence on Nuclear Security (COE). Other attendees included Chinese Vice Premier Ma Kai and representatives from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the European Commission, and several Asian countries. The China Atomic Energy Authority (CAEA) hosted the event.
“When I took part in the groundbreaking ceremony two and a half years ago, I had high expectations for the quality and scale of this Center, and you have exceeded those expectations,” Moniz noted.
Creedon added, “The COE opening capped off the trip. This new facility is truly a world-class venue for nuclear security training and best practices engagement, and I look forward to NNSA’s continued engagement there.”
The center was announced in a joint U.S.-Chinese statement at the first Nuclear Security Summit in April 2010. It will serve China’s domestic nuclear security training needs, offer a forum for sharing best practices, and provide an international venue for demonstrating advanced nuclear security technologies. The COE is a significant Chinese deliverable for the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit, March 31-April 1 in Washington.
The cost of the COE’s development was shared between DOE, the Department of Defense, and CAEA. China paid for the land and the facility. The United States provided technical advice during the design and construction phases and supplied some training equipment. Going forward, DOE and CAEA will continue to partner on curriculum development, train-the-trainer, and nuclear security best practices.