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U.S. and the Republic of Malta Sign Megaports Initiative Agreement Aimed at Preventing Nuclear Smuggling

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today announced that the United States and the Republic of Malta have signed an agreement to begin a cooperative effort to detect, deter, and interdict illicit smuggling of nuclear and other radioactive material.

The agreement, signed by U.S. Ambassador Douglas Kmiec and Malta’s Director General of Customs Joseph Brincat, paves the way for the NNSA to work with the Maltese Customs Administration and other government agencies in Malta to install radiation detection equipment and associated infrastructure at the port of Marsaxlokk. This cooperative framework also will train Maltese officials on the use of the equipment and provide for maintenance of the equipment for a specified period.

“This agreement represents a major step forward in NNSA’s efforts to fulfill President Obama's commitment to securing vulnerable nuclear material and keeping it out of the hands of terrorists and smugglers,” said Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Kenneth Baker. “Malta plays a critical role in the region’s maritime shipping and the United States appreciates its partnership in this important mission.”

NNSA has ongoing cooperative efforts with various countries in the Mediterranean and Middle East, where it is working to expand and strengthen the Second Line of Defense efforts throughout the region.

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 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 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.