U.S., Holland team to detect nukes

Energy Department

The U.S. and Dutch governments will work together to detect terrorist shipments of nuclear material through Europe's busiest seaport.

U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said Wednesday that his agency is working with the Netherlands by installing special equipment to detect hidden shipments of nuclear and other radioactive material in Rotterdam. Setting up radiation-detection devices in key ports is a "major step" in stopping illicit trade in nuclear materials, Abraham said.

Rotterdam, which handles more than 300 million metric tons of cargo each year, will be one of the first sites to use the new security system. The Energy Department plans to work with other international ports in the future.

"Terrorist groups and rogue nations trying to smuggle components for nuclear weapons is a serious threat that must be addressed," Abraham said.

By entering the agreement with the Dutch, the Energy Department is supporting its Megaports Initiative, which is part of the government's "Second Line of Defense" program for identifying and intercepting illegal shipments of weapons materials. The project complements the Homeland Security Department's Container Security Initiative, which also works with other countries to safeguard major shipping ports.

The equipment to be installed at Rotterdam was developed by Energy Department laboratories as part of the overall U.S. nuclear security program.

"Ultimately, we hope that the Megaports Initiative will further our international nonproliferation and anti-terrorist efforts and provide officials with useful evidence for prosecution of terrorists and smugglers," Abraham said.

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