Updated: 09/14/98

September 2, 1998

Chris Kielich, Amber Jones, 202/586-5806

Richardson, Russian Federation Dedicate "Second Line of Defense"

U.S. Nuclear Detection Technology to Help Secure Russian Borders

U.S. Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson and Russian Federation State Customs Committee Chairman Valeriy Draganov dedicated the installation of equipment to combat the trafficking of illicit nuclear materials at Russian borders in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Moscow's Sheremetyevo-1 international airport today. Secretary Richardson is in Russia accompanying President Clinton, whose summit with Russian President Boris Yeltsin underscores the United States' stake in the success of a peaceful, stable, democratic Russia.

With the assistance of technical experts from several Energy Department laboratories, Russia recently installed equipment to detect nuclear materials at the Moscow airport which serves domestic and international flights to countries which may pose a proliferation concern.

"Preventing nuclear smuggling is crucial to preserving a world free of nuclear terrorism," said Secretary Richardson. "This historic cooperation demonstrates the United States' and Russia's commitment to reducing the proliferation of nuclear weapons not only at production and storage sites but at the borders as well."

While the Energy Department's material protection, control and accounting (MPC&A) program helps Russia control its fissile or nuclear materials at the source, DOE's Second Line of Defense program assists Russia in preventing illicit nuclear materials and equipment from crossing the border. (U.S.–Russian cooperation to improve security at Russian nuclear facilities represents the "first line of defense" in addressing this threat.)

The Department of Energy signed a protocol with Russian Federation Customs in June calling for cooperation to reduce smuggling of nuclear and "dual-use" equipment, materials and technology from Russia. DOE has agreed to provide initial funding to purchase and install Russian-manufactured equipment to demonstrate the applicability of nuclear detection technology at key Russian ports, airports and border crossings.

The overall collaborative program between DOE and the Russian customs agency includes participation from several Energy Department laboratories and facilities. To install nuclear detection equipment at the Moscow airport, technical experts from the Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory assisted the Russian Federation State Customs Commission in identifying a system of portal monitors and video surveillance equipment that can detect nuclear smuggling activity. A Russian company called Aspect built the portal monitors; Los Alamos previously worked with Aspect to test and certify its equipment for portal monitoring and other applications.

In coming months, DOE and its multi-laboratory team will cooperate with Russian agencies to provide equipment and training for Second Line of Defense objectives. In the near term equipment will be installed at a seaport on the Caspian Sea as well as Sheremetyevo airports in Moscow. A training program for Russian customs officials leveraging existing U.S. and Russian training experience and resources will be developed in FY 1998 and implemented in FY 1999.

- DOE -