|Port of Djibouti|
Djibouti, Somalia’s neighbor to the north on the Horn of Africa, commissioned radiation detection equipment for its main seaport as part of a cooperative effort to stem illicit smuggling of nuclear and radiological material.
The U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Djiboutian Ministry of Equipment and Transport announced on July 6 that the equipment had been officially commissioned at the Port of Djibouti, although it has been in operation since early spring.
In a ceremony at the port facility on July 6, U.S, Chargé d’Affaires Paul Pometto and Djibouti Minister of Equipment and Transport Mohamed Moussa Ibrahim Balala said the deployment of the new detectors was an example of the cooperation between the two countries to prevent nuclear terrorism.
“Our partnership at the Port of Djibouti underscores a continued, shared commitment to combating the illicit trafficking of nuclear and other radioactive material,” said NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Anne Harrington. “With the commissioning of radiation detection equipment at this port, we have increased the level of nuclear security at one of the major shipping points in the Horn of Africa, bringing us one step closer to implementing President Obama’s nuclear security agenda.”
The specialized equipment, according to NNSA, scans loaded cargo containers for the presence of potentially dangerous nuclear and other radioactive materials. It was installed under NNSA’s Megaports Initiative in partnership with the Djibouti Ministry of Equipment and Transport, Djibouti Coast Guard, and Djibouti Customs. The radiation detection system began operations in mid-March and the Djiboutian Coast Guard is responding to all radiation alarms, said the agency.
This commissioning ceremony is the culmination of over two years of work at the Port of Djibouti, it said. Since 2009, NNSA has been working to equip the Port of Djibouti with the detection equipment, provide training to Djiboutian officials on how to operate and maintain the equipment, and educate terminal operators on the potential dangers of nuclear and other radioactive materials.
Last April, NNSA’s Office of Emergency Operations worked in collaboration with NNSA’s Second Line of Defense (SLD) Program and the Government of Djibouti to hold a week-long training course in countering the illicit movement of nuclear and other radiological material. Additionally, NNSA said its work at the Port of Djibouti was supported by technical experts from the Los Alamos, Pacific Northwest, and Sandia National Laboratories.
The Megaports Initiative’s work at the Port of Djibouti is part of NNSA’s SLD Program, which works collaboratively with foreign governments at land border crossings, airports and seaports worldwide to install specialized radiation detection equipment and associated communications equipment. NNSA said it has installed similar equipment at more than 350 sites and at 36 Megaports around the world.