The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) announced today the commissioning of two secure radiological transportation vehicles as part of a broader cooperative effort to help combat nuclear and radiological terrorism in the Philippines and around the world. The two vehicles are standard cargo vehicles, customized with extra security features specifically designed in coordination with PNRI to provide a more secure means of transporting radiological material within the Philippines.
“Working with our partners in the Philippines and around the world to eliminate, remove and protect vulnerable nuclear and radiological materials is critical to our shared efforts to prevent nuclear and radiological terrorism and the proliferation of nuclear weapons,” said NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Anne Harrington. “By better securing materials during transportation and preventing terrorists from acquiring dangerous nuclear and radiological material, we are working to implement President Obama’s unprecedented nuclear security agenda while promoting peace and security around the world. Joint efforts like this allow our countries to combine resources and expand our progress toward strengthening radiological security and countering the threat of radiological terrorism.”
Today, during a ceremony at PNRI headquarters in Manila, PNRI director Dr. Alumanda M. Dela Rosa highlighted the deployment of these new vehicles as an example of the continued cooperation between the United States and the Philippines to prevent nuclear and radiological terrorism.
“The Philippines is firmly committed to advance the shared global goal of securing nuclear and other radioactive materials that are used for peaceful purposes and preventing the illicit trafficking of such materials,” said Dela Rosa. “In this regard, the Philippines values the opportunities to partner with like-minded States and international organizations. Through such partnerships, we are overcoming the challenges of the availability of scientific expertise and resources needed to put in place effective and appropriate national systems for nuclear security, safeguards and safety.”
The procurement of the secure transportation vehicles is part of an ongoing effort by PNRI and the NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI). NNSA has previously cooperated with the Philippines to upgrade the security at 15 medical and research buildings that maintain radiological sources, to convert the research reactor at PNRI from highly enriched uranium (HEU) to low enriched uranium (LEU) and to remove all remaining HEU in the Philippines.
NNSA works to reduce and protect vulnerable nuclear and radiological material located at civilian sites worldwide. GTRI achieves permanent threat reduction through converting research reactors and isotope production facilities from highly enriched uranium to low enriched uranium, removing and disposing of excess nuclear and radiological materials, and protecting high priority nuclear and radiological materials from theft and sabotage.
This mission is one important component of NNSA’s layered approach to nuclear and radiological security cooperation with the Philippines. For example, NNSA’s Office of Nonproliferation and International Security collaborates with PNRI on a broad spectrum of projects to strengthen the Philippines’ implementation of the Additional Protocol to their comprehensive safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency, as well as to enhance PNRI’s capabilities on the physical protection of nuclear material and nuclear facilities. Additionally, NNSA’s Second Line of Defense (SLD) Program cooperates with major seaports in the Philippines to scan containerized cargo at the ports of Manila and Cebu for illicitly trafficked radiological and nuclear materials. As PNRI is the reach back agency for responding to detections of significance using SLD’s radiation detection systems, GTRI’s transportation vehicles will ensure increased security for transporting interdicted materials between the ports and secure storage facilities.