Last week the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced an important joint project with New Zealand to provide mobile radiation detection equipment to countries in Latin America, South East Asia, and Africa. Part of the extensive collaboration between our two governments on nuclear nonproliferation efforts, this is the fifth joint project between NNSA and New Zealand pursuant to a bilateral memorandum of understanding, under the 26-member G8 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Material of Mass Destruction.
New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and NNSA’s Second Line of Defense Program (SLD) will jointly select the specific partner countries to receive sophisticated mobile detection equipment. In addition to providing the equipment, SLD and MFAT will together conduct workshops and exercises to help partner countries develop better capacity to operate and maintain detection systems and otherwise deal with nuclear trafficking threats within and across their borders.
Established by Congress in the year 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for managing the United States’ nuclear nonproliferation programs, insuring the safety and performance of the nuclear stockpile, providing the U.S. Navy with safe and clean nuclear propulsion, converting research reactors and isotope production facilities from highly to low-enriched uranium, disposing of excess materials, and responding to radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.
NNSA established the SLD program in order to build productive partnerships with other countries on a specific matter of great importance to all of us, i.e., to prevent the illicit trafficking of nuclear and other radiological materials at international border crossings and checkpoints. To date, partnerships have been formed with more than 50 countries, and radiation detection equipment has been installed at more than 500 sites worldwide. New Zealand’s participation and generosity has assisted greatly in that effort.
As NNSA Deputy Administrator Anne Harrington said, “The United States and New Zealand share a strong commitment to important global nonproliferation efforts aimed at keeping dangerous nuclear materials out of the hands of terrorists, smugglers, and proliferators.” The new project “reinforces the cooperation between our countries to strengthen global security and prevent nuclear terrorism, while supporting President Obama’s pledge to lead a worldwide effort to secure vulnerable nuclear material around the world.”
If you would like more information about NNSA’s Second Line of Defense Program, you can access a fact sheet by clicking here.