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NNSA and Russian Customs Agency Mark Ten Years of Cooperation to Prevent the Illicit Trafficking of Dangerous Nuclear Material

St. Petersburg Meeting Highlights Progress and Future Plans to Equip Additional Russian Borders, Airports and Seaports

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Russian Federal Customs Service (FCS) officials are in St. Petersburg, Russia, this week to discuss progress and develop future plans for continued cooperation to prevent the illicit trafficking of nuclear and radioactive materials.  During the meeting, the officials commemorated ten years of cooperation under NNSA's Second Line of Defense program.

In the last decade under the Second Line of Defense (SLD), NNSA and FCS have worked together to equip over 200 of the Russian Federation's official international border crossings, including airports, seaports, railways, and land crossings with radiation detection equipment.

"Our Second Line of Defense program has fostered a strong partnership between the United States and Russia in the international fight against terrorism and helped improve safety and security around the world," said NNSA's Administrator Thomas D'Agostino. "After a decade of successful cooperation and dedication to reduce the risk of illicit trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive materials, we plan to continue this important effort by working to equip all of Russia's border crossings with radiation detection devices within three years."

NNSA and FCS each commit personnel and resources to install and maintain the radiation detection equipment and to develop and execute training programs for FCS officials who operate the equipment and resolve radiation alarms.  The partnership meets both the U.S. and Russia's nonproliferation objectives, with costs and activities shared by both countries.  Work is on track to equip all of the approximately 350 operational border crossing points in the Russian Federation by 2011, six years ahead of the FCS's original schedule.

FCS reported that in 2007 more than 65,000 alarms occurred at stationary radiation detection systems.  Of those, Russian customs inspectors stopped over 1,000 attempts to illegally transport goods emitting high levels of ionizing radiation, including fissile and radioactive materials across the border.

NNSA and FCS's major achievements in Russia under the program include:

  • Equipping over 200 sites with radiation detection equipment at Russian borders, airports and seaports;
  • Reaching an agreement to continue to share the cost for the balance of the official international border crossings;
  • Providing over 1,000 radiation detection monitors and necessary handheld search and identification equipment at border crossing points throughout the Russian Federation;
  • Adopting a joint sustainability plan outlining specific requirements to ensure the long-term viability of the radiation detection equipment;
  • Training over 250 Russian customs officials annually on customs control of nuclear and radioactive materials; and
  • Agreeing to transition maintenance and repair of all systems to FCS beginning in 2009 and ending in 2013.

NNSA's SLD program, which began with Russia,  works with foreign governments around the world to install specialized radiation detection equipment at border crossings, airports and seaports and train officials to detect and respond to smuggled nuclear and other radioactive materials.  The SLD program is currently at various stages of implementation in over 35 countries around the world.

Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a separately organized 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