USA — Defense, Energy Experts Aid China’s Nuclear Security

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28, 2011 — The Defense and Ener­gy depart­ments are work­ing under a gov­ern­ment-to-gov­ern­ment agree­ment signed Jan. 19 with Chi­na to estab­lish a region­al cen­ter of excel­lence there for nuclear secu­ri­ty, a Pen­ta­gon offi­cial said.

Rebec­ca K.C. Hers­man, deputy assis­tant sec­re­tary of defense for coun­ter­ing weapons of mass destruc­tion, told Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice the effort will allow the agen­cies to lever­age their exper­tise and resources for “max­i­mum effect to Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s nuclear secu­ri­ty agenda.” 

In April 2009, from Hrad­cany Square in Prague in the Czech Repub­lic, Oba­ma called for reduc­ing the num­ber of nuclear weapons in the world and build­ing a new frame­work for civ­il nuclear coop­er­a­tion. A year lat­er at the Nuclear Secu­ri­ty Sum­mit here, the Unit­ed States and Chi­na agreed to strength­en coop­er­a­tion in nuclear non­pro­lif­er­a­tion, nuclear secu­ri­ty and the fight against nuclear terrorism. 

Also at the sum­mit, Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Hu Jin­tao com­mit­ted to build­ing the Cen­ter of Excel­lence on Nuclear Secu­ri­ty out­side Beijing. 

Accord­ing to an Ener­gy Depart­ment fact sheet, the agree­ment paves the way for its Nation­al Nuclear Secu­ri­ty Admin­is­tra­tion and the Defense Depart­ment to work with Atom­ic Ener­gy Author­i­ty rep­re­sen­ta­tives in Chi­na to cre­ate a cen­tral site for train­ing in all aspects of nuclear security. 

“In many ways, DOD is the sup­port­ing play­er here to the broad­er DOE objec­tives,” Hers­man said, “but DOD brings strengths to table, par­tic­u­lar­ly in … site secu­ri­ty, trans­porta­tion secu­ri­ty, inci­dent response [and] inven­to­ry man­age­ment, as well as expe­ri­ence in devel­op­ing and pro­vid­ing train­ing and cur­ric­u­la for nuclear security.” 

DOD and DOE have worked togeth­er in the past, she not­ed. “These are all things we have done on mul­ti­ple occa­sions direct­ly and in sup­port of DOE,” Hers­man said, “so we see this as a nat­ur­al fit for the [Cen­ter of Excel­lence] effort, which is expect­ed to incor­po­rate all these elements.” 

The cen­ter will serve as a forum for exchang­ing tech­ni­cal infor­ma­tion, shar­ing best prac­tices, devel­op­ing train­ing cours­es and pro­mot­ing tech­ni­cal col­lab­o­ra­tions to enhance nuclear secu­ri­ty in Chi­na and through­out Asia. 

The two-sto­ry cen­ter will be financed through a U.S.-China cost-shar­ing arrange­ment and is expect­ed to be com­plete by 2012, said Dave Huizen­ga, prin­ci­pal deputy assis­tant admin­is­tra­tor for the office of defense nuclear non­pro­lif­er­a­tion in the Ener­gy Department’s Nation­al Nuclear Secu­ri­ty Administration. 

“This coop­er­a­tion is large­ly with the non­weapons side — the Chi­nese Atom­ic Ener­gy Author­i­ty, which runs their civil­ian research facil­i­ties and has a role in their nuclear pow­er facil­i­ties,” Huizen­ga said. “But the hope is that if we share best prac­tices and this infor­ma­tion gets to [the non­weapons] part of the Chi­nese nuclear sec­tor, the defense peo­ple will ben­e­fit from it indirectly.” 

The Nation­al Nuclear Secu­ri­ty Admin­is­tra­tion has had an ongo­ing part­ner­ship with the Chi­nese since 2005, Huizen­ga said. 

“We’ve had a robust best-prac­tices shar­ing exchange of infor­ma­tion on phys­i­cal pro­tec­tion and guard forces and mate­ri­als con­trol and account­ing — all the things you do to make sure that nuclear mate­ri­als stay in the facil­i­ty where they’re sup­posed to be and aren’t moved off illic­it­ly,” he said. 

The agree­ment has tak­en such coop­er­a­tion to a new lev­el, he added. 

“We’ve had a small facil­i­ty where we’ve been doing this train­ing since 2005,” Huizen­ga said. “But we want to con­sol­i­date every­thing into one larg­er mock-up train­ing cen­ter so we can bring Chi­nese and oth­ers in the region into a state-of-the-art facil­i­ty where they can get hands-on expe­ri­ence under­stand­ing what a guard would do if an alarm went off on the fence on the perime­ter of a nuclear mate­ri­als stor­age site, for instance.” 

The cen­ter, Hers­man added, also like­ly will offer the fol­low­ing:
— Train­ing nuclear site per­son­nel to mea­sure and account for nuclear mate­r­i­al and to design and install nuclear mate­r­i­al secu­ri­ty sys­tems;
— Train­ing pro­tec­tive force per­son­nel using sce­nario-dri­ven threat-response exer­cis­es;
— Train­ing per­son­nel on inter­na­tion­al nuclear safe­guards require­ments and inspec­tion tech­niques; and
— Envi­ron­men­tal test­ing of nuclear secu­ri­ty sys­tem components. 

Accord­ing to a White House fact sheet, the U.S. and Chi­nese gov­ern­ments have coop­er­at­ed since April 2004 to enhance nuclear secu­ri­ty under the Peace­ful Uses of Nuclear Tech­nol­o­gy Agreement. 

In 2005, the U.S. and Chi­na spon­sored a joint tech­nol­o­gy demon­stra­tion at the Chi­na Insti­tute of Atom­ic Ener­gy out­side Bei­jing that fea­tured estab­lished nuclear secu­ri­ty and inter­na­tion­al safe­guards tech­nolo­gies and illus­trat­ed nuclear secu­ri­ty best practices. 

Since 2005, experts from the Unit­ed States and Chi­na have con­duct­ed more than 15 work­shops on nuclear secu­ri­ty issues and activities. 

“Chi­na has always described the cen­ter as sup­port­ing region­al and Inter­na­tion­al Atom­ic Ener­gy Agency nuclear secu­ri­ty coop­er­a­tion,” Hers­man said, “and we strong­ly sup­port that goal.” 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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