June 23rd, 2006 03:43 EST
Egypt To Cooperate with U.S. on Preventing Nuclear Smuggling
U.S. megaports, container security programs to be implemented in Egypt
Washington -- Egypt is joining international efforts to prevent smuggling of nuclear and other radioactive materials by sea, U.S. official announced.
Officials of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the National Nuclear Security Administration signed a declaration of principles with Egyptian government officials June 22 that will bring two U.S. security programs to Egypt. Those programs are the nuclear agency’s Megaports and CBP's Container Security initiatives, according to a June 22 NNSA release.
NNSA Administrator Linton Brooks said the megaports program is "critical for international security and the stability of the global economy." By partnering with Egypt, he continued, the United States can “detect and deter” the maritime transport of illicit nuclear and radioactive substances.
The highest priority of the Customs and Border Patrol is the prevention of the smuggling of such materials, Commissioner Ralph Basham said. The container security program serves the "twin goals of security and trade facilitation,” he added.
In the megaports program, NNSA installs radiation detection equipment to enhance a host nation’s capability to detect and interdict illicit shipments of nuclear and other radioactive materials at its ports. Knowing that such equipment is installed has a deterrent effect on potential smugglers, NNSA says.
Under the Container Security Initiative (CSI), U.S. officers from both Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement will work with their Egyptian counterparts to identify suspicious or high-risk ocean cargo containers destined for the United States. The capabilities provided under the Megaports Initiative offer an additional targeting tool for customs officials supporting CSI, according to the NNSA statement.
This is the fourth joint declaration of principles reached by the two U.S. agencies, the NNSA says. Previous bilateral agreements have been signed with Jamaica, Oman and Honduras. (See related article.)
According to the NNSA, the Container Security Initiative is operational in 44 ports in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and North, South and Central America. About three-quarters of all ocean cargo containers transported to the United States originate in or are shipped through CSI ports.
The Megaports Initiative currently operates in six countries, and about 30 more countries are at various stages of negotiations or implementation with NNSA. Similar partnerships already exist with the Netherlands, Greece and other nations.
For more information about U.S. nonproliferation efforts, see Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.