By Jim Kouri
Key members from the U.S. military and from federal law enforcement agencies joined scientists and laboratory administrators on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday in Arlington, Virginia for the Defense Department’s Nuclear Deterrence Summit.
The goal of the Summit was to strengthen the coordination between the military, federal departments and their partners in the public and private sectors to safeguard nuclear weapons and radiological material from terrorists, according to top nuclear weapons expert.
The leader of the Pentagon-sponsored gathering, Steve Henry, deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear matters, described how “integration between the Defense Department, National Nuclear Security Administration, laboratories and other federal agencies is key to preventing terrorists from gaining access to nuclear material.
Henry said his office’s working relationship with the NNSA has expanded efforts on subjects such as nuclear nonproliferation, Navy reactors, emergency operations, nuclear security and counterterrorism.
“We [the Pentagon] work closely with NNSA nuclear nonproliferation to align programs, expand efforts to improve global nuclear security and avoid redundant efforts to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons or nuclear materials getting into the hands of terrorist organizations,” Henry added.
Henry co-chairs the Nuclear Weapons Accident and Incidents Response Steering Group with members from the Joint Staff, each military service, U.S. European Command, U.S. Northern Command, Homeland Security Department, Federal Aviation Administration, Environmental Protection Agency and the Agriculture Department.
Unfortunately, as reported in the Public Safety Examiner, President Barack Obama canceled a $1.2 billion program to install nuclear material detectors at U.S. ports of entry, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
According to a July 2011 DHS statement to the U.S. Congress, the equipment is unreliable as far as its “technical glitches” that included false positives or false alarms.
Following several “Red Team” undercover operations that revealed undercover operatives were able to sneak radioactive material into the United States across both north and south borders and through other entry points, the DHS and the White House have been under pressure to correct the security vulnerabilities regarding weapons of mass destruction.