On October 3, the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration joined the governments of Kazakhstan and the United Kingdom in announcing the commissioning of four transportation vehicles specially designed to transport radiological materials.
In a ceremony at the Institute of Nuclear Physics in Almaty, U.S. Consul General Theresa Grencik, U.K. Regional Energy Officer Ann Herrigan and Kazakh Deputy Chairman Timur Zhantikin of the Kazakhstan Atomic Energy Committee highlighted the addition of the new vehicles as an example of the cooperation between the three countries to prevent nuclear terrorism.
“Our partnership here in Almaty and throughout Kazakhstan underscores a continued, shared commitment to the security of radioactive material that has lasted more than two decades,” said DOE/NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Anne Harrington. “The commissioning of these secure transportation vehicles enhances the level of radiological security in Kazakhstan, whose leadership has done so much to advance nuclear security.”
As part of a broader cooperative effort to help combat nuclear and radiological terrorism around the world, the dedication of these transportation vehicles supports efforts by Kazakhstan’s Atomic Energy Committee to implement international guidelines to protect radiological materials in transit.
The procurement of the secure transportation vehicles is made possible by a contribution from the United Kingdom to DOE/NNSA. The United Kingdom has a long history of significant contributions to global security projects, and this cooperative effort is the most recent of many joint projects between the United States and United Kingdom to prevent nuclear and radiological terrorism.
As part of its radiological security mission, DOE/NNSA works with partner countries to search for radiological sources that have been abandoned or disused, remove those sources and place them in secure storage, and improve radiological transportation security and site security.
The United Kingdom-funded projects provide an immediate security and safety benefit, and ensure Kazakhstan has the tools and skills to identify, secure, and remove radiological material in the future.
The commissioning of the secure transportation vehicles and the broader project to secure radioactive material are examples of the productive partnership between the United States and Kazakhstan, who share a long history of cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation issues. This cooperation includes many historical and ongoing projects, including:
- Secure long-term storage for more than 10 metric tons of highly enriched uranium (HEU);
- Ongoing conversion of the research reactor at the Institute of Nuclear Physics from HEU to low enriched uranium and the elimination of all HEU located at the Institute;
- Improvement of security for nuclear and radiological materials;
- Commissioning of heavy-duty transportation security vehicles for IAE and MAEC in 2012;
- Bilateral cooperation on safeguards implementation;
- Provision of training for Kazakhstani officials on export controls; and
- Application of expertise of former nuclear weapons scientists to civil pursuits that advance global nonproliferation and security efforts.