U.S. and Panama To Combat Nuclear Smuggling

Press Release
Feb 9, 2007

PANAMA CITY, PANAMA - The United States signed a Declaration of Principles today with the government of Panama to help prevent smuggling of nuclear and other radioactive material. The Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Customs and Border Protection (CBP) cosigned the declaration. The document covers implementation of NNSA's Megaports Initiative and CBP's Container Security Initiative, as both programs continue working together to stop nuclear material from being smuggled to U.S. ports.

"Today's agreement with Panama represents a commitment on both sides to tackle the threat of illicit trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive materials, which will further the fight against terrorism," said NNSA Acting Administrator Thomas P. D'Agostino. "Cooperating with the Panamanian government on the Megaports Initiative will help to secure global shipping lanes and ultimately protect U.S. ports."

NNSA's Megaports Initiative works with foreign governments to install specialized radiation detection equipment and enhance capabilities to deter, detect, and interdict illicit shipments of nuclear and other radioactive materials at international ports. The initiative is currently operational in six countries, and at various stages of implementation and negotiations with approximately 30 other countries around the world.

Under the Container Security Initiative (CSI), officers from both CBP and DHS' Immigration and Customs Enforcement are stationed at key seaports abroad to work with host governments to identify high-risk shipments bound for the United States and to examine these shipments prior to loading. CSI operates at 50 ports in North America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and North, South and Central America. About 83 percent of all cargo containers destined for U.S. shores originate in or are transshipped through CSI ports.

Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.

View the full text of the report: Report on the Plan for Transformation of the NNSA's Nuclear Weapons Complex (pdf)

Media contact(s):
NNSA Public Affairs (202) 586-7371