Homeland Security

22 November 2005

Oman Joins U.S. Nonproliferation, Anti-Terrorist Arrangement

Agreement intended to thwart nuclear material, weapons smuggling

The United States has signed an agreement with Oman designed to prevent smuggling of nuclear and other radioactive material as part of global nonproliferation and anti-terrorist efforts, U.S. agencies say.

In a November 19 news release, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) said that U.S. equipment installed under the arrangement will allow for detection of hidden shipments of such materials.

NNSA, a Department of Energy agency, said the United States has similar partnerships with the Netherlands and Greece and is working to involve additional countries.

The agreement with Oman is part of the NNSA Megaport Initiative and the Container Security Initiative (CSI) managed by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency. Under CSI, U.S. customs officers placed in foreign ports target U.S.-bound high-risk cargo for inspection by local customs officials.

In a separate November 22 news release, CBP said that the arrangement with the port of Salalah in Oman also will aim to detect and deter smuggling of terrorists and materials and weapons that can be used to mount terrorist attacks in the United States and other countries.

Additional information on the Container Security Initiative is available on the CBP Web site.

Following is the text of the NNSA news release followed by the CBP release:

(begin text)

NNSA News
National Nuclear Security Administration
U.S. Department of Energy
November 19, 2005

U.S. and Oman to Cooperate on Detecting Illicit Shipments of Nuclear Material

Will Help Thwart Terrorist Attempts to Smuggle Material for Nuclear Weapons and "Dirty Bombs"

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The United States and the Sultanate of Oman signed an agreement today to help thwart smuggling of nuclear and other radioactive material.  This is the first international cooperative agreement involving both the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Container Security Initiative and the National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSA) Megaports Initiative.

The arrangement with Oman is aimed at detecting and deterring illicit trafficking of nuclear and other radioactive materials by smugglers and terrorists.  Similar partnerships exist with the Netherlands, Greece and other nations.  Representatives from Europe, Asia, South America, the Middle East and the Caribbean are in active discussions with the United States to add these monitoring systems in key port facilities worldwide to further international nonproliferation efforts and provide useful evidence to support prosecution efforts.

NNSA Principal Deputy Administrator Jerry Paul praised Oman, saying, "The United States and Oman both recognize the need to remain vigilant against the threat posed by the trafficking of nuclear and other radioactive materials through the global maritime shipping network.  This initiative is yet another example of the excellent cooperation in the overall relationship between the United States and Oman, and will further our mutual international nonproliferation and counterterrorism efforts."

The Megaports Initiative is part of NNSA's Second Line of Defense Program, and the equipment installed under it allows for detection of hidden shipments of nuclear and other radioactive material. 

Under the Container Security Initiative (CSI), DHS stations multidisciplinary teams of U.S. officers from the Customs and Border Protection Bureau and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to work with their host government counterparts to establish security criteria for identifying high-risk containers.  Their mission is to target and pre-screen containers destined to the United States.  To expedite the inspection process, host customs administrations are required to provide non-intrusive technology to quickly inspect any identified high-risk containers before they are shipped to U.S. ports.  The capabilities provided under the Megaports Initiative offer an additional targeting tool for customs officials supporting CSI. 

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 energy.  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.

(end text)

(begin text)

U.S. Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Press Release
November 22, 2005

OMAN TO PARTICIPATE IN CONTAINER SECURITY INITIATIVE TO SCREEN CARGO DESTINED FOR U.S.

Washington, D.C. -- U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Robert C. Bonner announced that Oman will participate in the Container Security Initiative (CSI) a program that will enable all maritime cargo destined for the U.S. through the port of Salalah to be targeted and pre-screened for terrorists and terrorist weapons.

“CSI is a key initiative designed to prevent global maritime cargo from being exploited by terrorist intent on inflicting harm in America and other nations of the world.  Oman has taken steps to support the Container Security Initiative to safeguard global maritime trade,” said Commissioner Bonner.  “The CSI security blanket continues to expand and strengthen as it encompasses the port of Salalah.”

The signing brings large-scale and sophisticated radiological detection equipment to identify nuclear material under the Energy Department’s MegaPorts Initiative at the port of Salalah.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Assistant Commissioner E. Keith Thomson, Office of International Affairs, and Lieutenant General Malik bin Sulaiman al-Ma'amari, Inspector General of the Royal Oman Police as well as Eleanor Melamed, Deputy Director, Second Line of Defense Program, Department of Energy (DOE), signed a declaration of principles on November 19, 2005.

In addition to Oman screening and targeting high-risk containers, the Port of Dubai also became CSI operational on March 26, 2005.  CSI is continuing to expand to strategic locations around the world.

CSI, the screening and targeting of containers at a foreign seaport, did not exist prior to the terrorist attacks of 2001.  On average, every day about 25,000 seagoing containers are offloaded at America’s seaports.  Commissioner Bonner, confirmed by Congress shortly after 9/11, made maritime cargo security one of his top priorities.  The Container Security Initiative was launched in January 2002.  It is a revolutionary and dynamic initiative to secure maritime cargo shipments against the terrorist threat.

Currently, there are 41 operational CSI ports in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and North and South America.  Approximately 75 percent of cargo containers headed to the U.S. originate in or are transshipped from CSI ports.

Under the Container Security Initiative, CBP has entered into bilateral partnerships to identify high-risk cargo containers before they are loaded on vessels destined for the United States.  Today, a total of 24 additional administrations have committed to join CSI and are at various stages of implementation.

CSI is an accepted model of international cooperation to protect the global supply chain against terrorism.  CBP’s goal is to have 50 operational CSI ports by the end of 2006.  At that time, approximately 90 percent of all transatlantic and transpacific cargo imported into the United States will be subjected to pre-screening.

The World Customs Organization (WCO), the European Union (EU), and the G8, support CSI expansion and have adopted resolutions implementing CSI security measures introduced at ports throughout the world.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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