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Cameroon; United States: Nuclear Security Agreement

(Nov. 18, 2010) On November 4, 2010, the United States' National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) concluded a memorandum of understanding with the West African nation of Cameroon. The cooperation agreement covers curbing, detecting, and interrupting illegal traffic in nuclear and other radioactive materials. Stopping the smuggling of such materials is part of the mission of the NNSA, an organ of the Department of Energy. (Press Release, Embassy of the United States in Yaoundé, Cameroon, The United States and the Republic of Cameroon Signed an Agreement to Prevent Nuclear Smuggling Under the Megaports Initiative (Nov. 4, 2010),; Mark Rockwell, Nuclear Security Agency Gets West African Foothold on Nuclear Smuggling, GOVERNMENT SECURITY NEWS (Nov. 5, 2010),

The agreement, signed in Cameroon's capital city, Yaoundé, by U.S. Ambassador Robert P. Jackson and the Minister for External Affairs of Cameroon, Henri Eyebe Ayissi, is the first of its kind signed by NNSA with a West African nation. It will promote cooperation with Cameroon's Ministry of Transport and other government agencies, including the installation of devices to detect radiation, together with a communications system, in the Port of Douala, on the Atlantic coast of Cameroon, and a program to train local staff in maintaining the system. (Rockwell, supra.) The goal is for Cameroonian officials to be able to scan cargo in containers for radioactive materials, with minimal impact on port operations. The United States has expressed the opinion that the program will “enhance the reputation of the Port of Douala as a safe and secure port.” (Press Release, supra.)

Speaking about the pact, Anne Harrington, a deputy administrator in the NNSA's nonproliferation program, stated:

This agreement represents our shared commitment to keeping dangerous nuclear materials out of the hands of terrorists, smugglers and proliferators. … This landmark partnership with Cameroon is a major step toward achieving our goal of equipping 100 ports with radiation detection equipment by 2016 and implementing President Obama's nuclear security agenda. We look forward to working with our partners in Cameroon to enhance safety and security across West Africa and here in the United States. (Rockwell, supra.)