A fixed system for the detection of nuclear and radioactive materials was inaugurated on Wednesday at the border crossing point of the “Henri Coanda” International Airport of Bucharest by the Romanian Ministry of Internal Affairs and the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest.
Attending the event were Romanian Vice Prime Minister for national security, Minister of Internal Affairs Gabriel Oprea, Chargé d’Affaires ad interim of the United States of America Duane Butcher, representatives of the U.S. Department of Energy and of the Romanian Border Police.
“This occasion reflects the strong commitment of Romania’s government to deter, detect, and interdict illicit trafficking of special nuclear and other radioactive materials through its border control points,” reads a Wednesday release of the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest.
According to the cited source, on September 25, 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Ministry of Interior and Administrative Reform signed an agreement to cooperate in preventing illicit trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive material in Romania.
“DOE’s Office of Nuclear Smuggling Detection and Deterrence (NSDD) has worked together with the Romanian Border Police (RBP) to deploy radiation detection systems at the Port of Constanta, the RBP training center in Iasi, and key border crossings. Cooperation also includes joint training, practical exercises, and sustainability,” the release reads.
The cited source mentions that since 2009, the detection systems have scanned in Romania over ten million vehicles, pedestrians, and shipping containers. NSDD has also deployed six mobile radiation detection systems in vans since 2009, and is working with Romania to equip additional sites with fixed equipment.
NSDD’s mission, the U.S. Embassy specifies, is to strengthen the capabilities and commitment of partner countries to deter, detect, and interdict illicit trafficking of nuclear and other radioactive materials within the interiors of partner countries, across international borders, and through the global maritime shipping system.
“NSDD provides partner countries with the tools and training necessary to counter nuclear smuggling, thus making an essential contribution to the global nuclear detection architecture. It does this by installing radiation detection systems at high-priority locations around the world and by building a community of states that possess an indigenous capacity to deter, detect, and interdict nuclear and radioactive materials,” the release further reads, adding that this program in Romania is an important part of the long standing nuclear security cooperation in central Europe of the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration, and falls under the agreement of March 30, 1998 between the U.S. and Romanian governments to cooperate in the area of counterproliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the promotion of defense and military relations.
U.S. Charge d’affaires ad interim, Duane Butcher : Romania – one of closest allies
Romania is one of the closest allies of the U.S. due to its conduct and commitment, the U.S. Charge d’affaires ad interim Duane Butcher said on Wednesday at the inauguration ceremony of the fixed system for detecting nuclear and radioactive materials, located at the Border Checkpoint of “Henri Coanda” International Airport.
The U.S. greatly appreciates the partnership with Romania and the fact that Romania is one of its closest allies due to its conduct and commitment. Today’s example is very eloquent. The proliferation and illicit trafficking in nuclear and radiological materials remain a major concern and a top priority in the U.S.’ foreign policy. Keeping our citizens safe depends on the collaboration with key-partners such Romania and the European Union, Duane Butcher underscored.
He pointed out that the proliferation and illicit trafficking in nuclear and radiological materials are a threat to the security of all nations.
The U.S. Charge d’affaires ad interim said that the American partners provide their allies with modern detection equipment but also with training to detect and deter illicit trafficking in nuclear and radiological materials. In this context, he mentioned that since 2008 the U.S. Government has invested over 20 million dollars in equipment and training for Romania.
Our main investment was ensuring radiation portal monitors (RPMs). Some of them are fixed, such as those we are inaugurating today. Others are mobile detection systems, such as vans used by Border Police, or portable devices, such as those located in many border checkpoints across the country. In fact, there are currently 60 RPMs throughout Romania, offered by the U.S. We will continue this cooperation also in the future, said Duane Butcher.
According to him, RPMs will be provided in 2016 in important locations at the borders with Ukraine, Moldova and Bulgaria, and Romania will also receive other mobile detection systems.
Ensuring the equipment for these objectives is but one of the important pieces of this puzzle. Equally important as the equipment, and also one of the reasons why this is a partnership and not just a donation, is providing the training to use the equipment and maintaining its long-term effective operation. We extend help in these efforts, but the Romanian Government must ensure these vital aspects of the programme to make it fully successful, Butcher mentioned.