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US, Netherlands, Kazakhstan Commission Secure Radiological Transportation Vehicle

KURCHATOV, Kazakhstan – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today joined the Governments of Kazakhstan and the Netherlands in announcing the commissioning of a secure radiological transportation vehicle as part of a broader cooperative effort to help combat nuclear and radiological terrorism around the world. The delivery of the secure radiological transportation vehicle to the Institute of Atomic Energy – National Nuclear Center (NNC) of Kazakhstan is the latest accomplishment under a partnership between the NNSA, the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Republic of Kazakhstan. In a ceremony today at the NNC in Kurchatov, Ambassador Kenneth J. Fairfax and Kazakh Atomic Energy Agency Chairman Timur Zhantikin highlighted the addition of the new vehicle as an example of the cooperation between the three countries to prevent nuclear terrorism.

“Our partnership here in Kurchatov and throughout Kazakhstan underscores a continued, shared commitment to the security of radioactive material,” said NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Anne Harrington. “With the commissioning of this secure transportation vehicle, we have enhanced the level of radiological security in Kazakhstan – a key partner in the region.”

The procurement of the secure transportation vehicle is made possible by a contribution from the Kingdom of the Netherlands to NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI). In addition to supporting the vehicle commissioned today, the Dutch contribution, announced in May 2011, has funded a secure vehicle for Kazakhstan’s Mangyshlak Atomic Energy Complex, a search and secure training course for officials from the Kazakh Ministry of Industry and New Technologies to identify and secure vulnerable radiological sources, and radiological characterization and identification equipment. The remaining funds under this agreement will support efforts to search for and recover orphaned radiological sources at sites identified by the Government of Kazakhstan. As part of its radiological security mission, NNSA’s GTRI works with partner countries to search for radiological sources that have been abandoned or disused, remove them and place them in secure storage, and improve radiological transportation security.

The Dutch-funded projects provide an immediate security and safety benefit and ensures Kazakhstan has the tools and skills to identify, secure and remove radiological material in the future.

The commissioning of the secure transportation vehicle 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;
  • active participation in the International Science and Technology Center aimed at curbing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction expertise;
  • 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.

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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 U.S. and abroad.