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U.S. and Italy Sign Megaports Initiative Agreement to Prevent Smuggling of Nuclear and Radioactive Material

WASHINGTON, DC – The governments of the United States and the Italian Republic have partnered to prevent the smuggling of nuclear and other radioactive material through the global maritime system. Under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed today in Rome, the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) will work with the Customs Agency of the Italian Republic under a cost-sharing arrangement to help secure cargo containers passing through several Italian ports, including Genoa and Gioia Tauro.

“This agreement highlights the shared strong commitment of the U.S. and Italy to combating nuclear terrorism,” said Kenneth E. Baker, NNSA’s Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator for NNSA's Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation. “Italy plays a key role in the region’s maritime shipping and this agreement represents an important step forward in increasing international maritime security.”

Under this cost-sharing arrangement, NNSA will work with Italian Customs to equip key ports in Italy with radiation detection equipment and an associated communications system. This specialized equipment will help to detect the presence of illicit or smuggled nuclear and other radioactive materials in cargo containers shipped through these ports. NNSA will also train the Italian officials who will operate the detection equipment.

This effort is part of the NNSA’s Second Line of Defense (SLD) Program, which works collaboratively with foreign governments at border crossings, airports, seaports and other points of entry to install specialized radiation detection equipment and associated communications equipment. The SLD Program also provides training to host government border guard officials and other personnel to detect smuggled nuclear and other radioactive materials. NNSA has installed similar equipment at more than 230 sites and at 30 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. 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 United States and abroad.

Media contact(s):
NNSA Public Affairs (202) 586-7371