April 18th, 2007 04:58 EST
United States and Mexico to Partner in Fight Against Nuclear Smuggling
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman and Mexican Minister of Finance and Public Credit Agustin Carstens today signed an agreement to help detect and prevent the smuggling of nuclear and other radioactive material. Under the Megaports agreement, the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) will collaborate with Mexican Customs to install radiation detection equipment at four Mexican seaports that account for nearly 90 percent of container traffic in Mexico. The agreement is part of the 2005 Security and Prosperity Partnership.
“The Megaports Agreement signed today solidifies the United States and Mexico's joint commitment to the safety, security and prosperity of our nations,” Secretary Bodman said. “This initiative builds on our ongoing cooperation to advance nonproliferation by deploying advanced technologies to reduce the threat of illegal shipments of nuclear and other radioactive materials into our countries.”
Secretary Carstens stated that “with this agreement, Mexico Customs will not only increase its security and efficiency levels, which are among its main responsibilities, but also, and undoubtedly, Mexico will enhance its competitiveness level.” He added that “this agreement shows the strong spirit of cooperation between Mexico and the United States, and it underscores the importance assigned to the North American Security and Prosperity Partnership initiatives.”
Signature of today’s agreement will advance cooperative efforts under 2005 Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, a trilateral initiative between the United States, Canada, and Mexico that focuses on collaboration in trade, import and export controls, immigration and security. Under the partnership, the U.S. committed to providing Mexico with radiation detection equipment to prevent illicit trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive materials.
The United States and Mexico have a strong cooperation in nuclear nonproliferation work, including their joint work to prepare for a large, international emergency response exercise to be held in Mexico in 2008. In addition, NNSA works closely with Mexico to increase security at the Mexican TRIGA research reactor and to convert the reactor so that it does not run on weapons-usable highly enriched uranium.
NNSA’s Megaports program works around the world with foreign governments to install specialized radiation detection equipment international seaports. The program’s mission is to enhance a country’s capabilities to deter, detect and interdict illicit shipments of nuclear and other radioactive materials. The initiative is currently operational in eight countries, with operational testing underway in three additional countries, and at various stages of implementation and negotiations with approximately 13 other countries.
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.
Bryan Wilkes, (202) 586-7371
Megan Barnett, (202) 586-4940