The Ministry of the Interior and the National Nuclear Security Administration of the United States have entered into a cooperation agreement with a view to enhancing the prevention and deterrence of crimes involving the illicit handling of radioactive substances.
Veiko Kommusaar, the Undersecretary for Internal Security, Migration and Public Order at the Ministry of the Interior, said this is an important milestone in the cooperation of the US and Estonia for nuclear security. “The cooperation agreement signed today will allow us to train our experts in partnership with the US nuclear security experts. Consequently, the authorities responsible for internal security will be able to identify threat sources more efficiently than before and thus to stop criminal activity,” the Undersecretary pointed out.
Kommusaar noted that radioactive substances are a threat to the environment, human lives, and people’s health in case of illegal handling as well as to security in the event of use for malicious purposes. “Although the probability of the radiation threat materialising is rather low from the security perspective, it would have a massive impact. This is why it is important to never stop monitoring the issue,” the Undersecretary explained. He added that nearly all the agencies subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior would be involved in the projects in cooperation with the US partner, and the specific activities of the agencies would be determined during further meetings.
Art Atkins, the U.S. Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration’s Assistant Deputy Administrator for Global Material Security said, “Our organization has had a long-standing and successful relationship with the Republic of Estonia. The Estonian Ministry of the Interior has always been a key partner in our efforts to prevent the illicit trafficking of nuclear and other radioactive material, and I am pleased that under the terms of this new agreement, we will continue to expand that partnership.” Mr. Atkins also highlighted, “Following this agreement, we plan to provide the Ministry with new technologies and training support which will strengthen Estonia’s counter-nuclear smuggling capabilities, starting with a virtual training later this week.”
Kommusaar and Atkins both thanked The Embassy of the United States in Estonia, which has been instrumental in facilitating joint projects in the nuclear security sphere. The National Nuclear Security Administration within the US Department of Energy has had long-standing and reliable cooperation with the Ministry of the Interior.