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12 January 2005

United States, Bahamas Sign Pact to Fight Nuclear Terrorism

Bahamas to use U.S. system that detects nuclear material

Washington -- The United States and the Bahamas have signed a new agreement under which the Caribbean nation will install at a Bahamian seaport special U.S. equipment that detects hidden shipments of nuclear and other radioactive material, U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham has announced.

In a January 11 statement, Abraham said the Bahamas will be the first country in the Caribbean to deploy this type of detection system.

The agreement is part of the Energy Department's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Megaports Initiative, which supports the Bush administration's goal of detecting, deterring, and interdicting illicit shipments of nuclear and other radioactive materials.

NNSA works with foreign partners to equip seaports with radiation detection equipment and to provide training to appropriate law enforcement officials.

This is NNSA's sixth cooperation agreement and joins other efforts under way in the Netherlands, Greece, Sri Lanka, Belgium and Spain.

"Helping better protect the world's maritime shipping network from nuclear smuggling is an important objective we are working to achieve,” said Abraham.  “Cooperating with the Bahamian government will enable our countries to further international nonproliferation efforts and better protect the citizens of the Bahamas, the United States, and other countries against nuclear terrorism."

The Energy Department said that the specialized radiation-detection technology deployed under this program is based on technologies originally developed by NNSA laboratories as part of overall U.S. government efforts to guard against proliferation of weapons materials.

Abraham explained that "successful detection of radioactive materials as they cross a country's borders is fundamental in stopping a nuclear or dirty bomb attack."

Signing the agreement were Robert Witajewski, charge d'affairs of the U.S. Embassy in the Bahamas, on behalf of the NNSA; and Ruth Millar, the financial secretary of the Bahamas Ministry of Finance.