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NNSA visits Israeli ports on SLD initiative

NNSA's Miller at Ashod

One of the leaders of the U.S. agency charged with defending against nuclear terror threats visited Israeli cargo ports and airports in late March to check on the progress of a joint detection program.

The National Nuclear Security Administration's principal deputy administrator, Neile Miller, visited the Port of Ashdod in Israel on March 29. Ashod, along with Haifa participate in NNSA’s Second Line of Defense (SLD) Megaports Initiative. In 2009, NNSA and the Government of Israel installed a radiation detection system in Ashdod to scan cargo containers for special nuclear or other radioactive materials that could be trafficked through the international shipping system.

Ashdod is an international sea terminal that supports a large volume of global cargo traffic and is an important port to equip with radiation detection systems and capabilities, said NNSA.

“The radiation detection systems installed at major seaports play an important role in preventing and detecting nuclear theft and smuggling,” said Miller. “Along with our international partners we have the capability to monitor hundreds of thousands of shipping containers to deter the illicit spread of nuclear materials in the global shipping system and support NNSA’s nonproliferation goals.”

The SLD Program is also cooperating with Israel on two other projects, said NNSA. The Megaports Initiative is working to equip the Port of Haifa with radiation detection equipment and to provide training to port personnel, while the SLD Program is co-conducting a pilot program with the Israeli Government to provide radiation detection equipment and training to Ben Gurion International Airport (BGIA), it said.

“Our cooperation with the Government of Israel on our Second Line of Defense program reflects our shared commitment to preventing terrorists, smugglers and proliferators from trafficking dangerous nuclear and radiological materials,” said NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Anne Harrington. “The radiation detection efforts in Israel demonstrate our ability to work with our partners in the international community to meet President Obama’s ambitious nuclear security agenda.”

The cooperative operations between the United States and Israel involves a cost-sharing agreement where Israel funds some or all of the design, construction, and installation of the radiation detection equipment, as well as maintenance and repair of the monitors, said the agency. NNSA, in turn, provides the equipment, communications systems, training, and limited technical support.

The Haifa Port Company (HPC) and the Ashdod Port Company (APC) will each be responsible for operating the equipment at the respective Megaports, while Airport Security is expected to operate the radiation detection equipment at Ben Gurion airport when the final installation is completed by the Israeli Government, said NNSA. In addition, the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, as the agency with radiation expertise, is involved in training and emergency response planning, it said.