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NNSA Joins Forces with the Governments of Kazakhstan and the Netherlands for Nuclear Security Workshop

ALMATY, KAZAKHSTAN – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today joined the Governments of Kazakhstan and the Netherlands in announcing the completion of a workshop to locate, identify, register, and transport radioactive sources within Kazakhstan.  Conducted during the week of June 6, the training is the first accomplishment under a partnership between NNSA, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and the Republic of Kazakhstan.

The workshop was led by experts from NNSA and included participants from the Dutch Embassy in Kazakhstan, the Kazakhstan Atomic Energy Committee in Astana, the Mangyshlak Atomic Energy Complex in Aktau, the Institute of Nuclear Physics in Almaty, the Institute of Atomic Energy in Kurchatov, and the Ulba Metallurgical Plant in Ust-Kamenogorsk, among others.  The broad representation demonstrates the importance placed on the project across the entire country, both geographically and organizationally.

“Kazakhstan has a long history of responsibility with nuclear issues,” said a Kazakhstani official.  “From President Nazarbayev’s historic decision to renounce and relinquish nuclear weapons upon the independence of Kazakhstan, to our participation in these exercises and cooperation with the IAEA, Kazakhstan is committed to responsible stewardship of our nuclear and radioactive legacy and materials.  This workshop helps prove our commitment and ensure radiological material is kept safe and secure.”

The workshop is made possible due to a contribution by the Kingdom of the Netherlands to NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI).  The Dutch contribution, announced last month at the NNSA headquarters in Washington, D.C., supports the conduct of Search and Secure workshops as well as searches of areas or facilities likely to contain orphaned radioactive sources. It also includes resources to help provide secure transportation equipment and recover disused high-activity sources. 

“The strong partnership between the United States, the Netherlands and Kazakhstan is a tangible demonstration of our three nations’ commitment to the global campaign to prevent terrorists and proliferators from acquiring dangerous radiological material,” said NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Anne Harrington. “Securing orphaned or disused radioactive sources is an important part of implementing the nuclear security agenda and reinforces the goals in the Nuclear Security Summit Work Plan.”

The Dutch-funded project provides an immediate security and safety benefit and ensures Kazakhstan has the tools and skills to identify, secure and remove radiological material in the future. 
"Kazakhstan has an ambitious nuclear agenda both in the development of its economic potential as well as its active role in the reduction of nuclear proliferation and the combating of nuclear terrorism. Likewise the Netherlands is committed to guaranteeing nuclear security and combating nuclear terrorism. Our cooperation with Kazakhstan and the United States is a concrete illustration of the Netherlands' active participation in the Nuclear Security Summit, the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and the G8 Global Partnership," said His Excellency Frans Potuyt, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Republic of Kazakhstan.

The Search and Secure workshop and the broader project to secure radioactive material are examples of the productive partnership between the United States and Kazakhstan, who share a long history of cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation issues.  This cooperation includes many historical and ongoing projects, including:

● the secure long-term storage for more than 10 metric tons of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and three metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium from the BN-350 reactor in Aktau;
● the ongoing conversion of the research reactor at the Institute of Nuclear Physics from HEU to low enriched uranium and the elimination of all HEU located at the Institute;
● improvement of security for nuclear and radiological materials;
● the provision of radiation detection equipment to Kazakhstan ports of entry;
● bilateral cooperation on safeguards implementation;
● the provision of training for Kazakhstani officials on export controls; and
● the application of expertise of former nuclear weapons scientists to civil pursuits that advance global nonproliferation and security efforts.

For a fact sheet on NNSA’s GTRI 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 in the nation’s national security enterprise. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability, and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; reduces the 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.