United States and Armenia further cooperation to strengthen counter-nuclear smuggling capabilities

Today, representatives of the Government of the United States and of the Republic of Armenia conducted a scheduled review of the 2008 U.S.-Armenia Joint Action Plan on Combatting Smuggling of Nuclear and Radioactive Materials.

Incidents of nuclear and radioactive material smuggling around the world highlight the need for coordinated international efforts to secure these dangerous materials and keep them from falling into the hands of terrorists or other criminals who might use them for malicious purposes. The United States and Armenia have been close partners in this effort for a number of years. In addition, Armenia has been an active and important member of the international community’s work to enhance nuclear security and combat nuclear proliferation, through the Nuclear Security Summit process, the IAEA, the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, and other international institutions.

“We are partnering together to enhance Armenia’s ability to investigate nuclear smuggling incidents, as well as build on the sides’ shared commitment to nuclear nonproliferation overall,” said U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Richard Mills Jr., who led the U.S. delegation, which included a D.C.-based experts from the State Department’s Bureau of International Security and Non-proliferation. “This review reflects Armenia’s commitment to proper stewardship of nuclear materials under its control and continued willingness to work to prevent the smuggling of nuclear materials across its borders.”

The Armenian side was led by Gagik Hovhannisyan, head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ International Security Department, and included representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Energy, the NSS, and from Armenia’s border security, customs, and nuclear regulatory agencies. Also participating were experts from the nation’s nuclear power plant operator.

Signed in July 2008 by then-U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Armenian Minister of Foreign Affairs Edward Nalbandyan, the Joint Action Plan on Combatting Smuggling of Nuclear and Radioactive Materials lists steps that Armenia can undertake to strengthen its capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to nuclear and radioactive material smuggling. U.S. assistance to Armenia as it moves forward to implement the plan has included training, equipment, and other forms of support. Together, the two governments have strengthened security at Armenian facilities that house radioactive materials, improved Armenia’s ability to detect radioactive materials that might cross its borders, and developed Armenia’s capacity to investigate nuclear smuggling incidents.

At the conclusion of the full day of meetings, the United States and Armenia pledged their commitment to continuing these efforts and identified opportunities for further collaboration.

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