14 February 2013

Algeria: Nation, U.S. Tackle Nuclear Material Trafficking

Algiers — Algeria and the United States discussed joint initiatives against terrorism and the trafficking of nuclear materials.

Algeria and the United States will work together to prevent terrorists and criminals from acquiring black market nuclear material, officials from both countries agreed this week in Algiers.

"Cross-border organised crime poses a threat to the security of the states in the region," Foreign Ministry Director-General for Political Affairs and International Security Taous Feroukhi said Monday (February 11th) at the conclusion of the 2-day forum.

Participants at the meeting expressed concern that nuclear material "could cross the Algerian border, and that the [nuclear material]stocks from Moamer Kadhafi's regime are within the reach of armed Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) groups", Algerie1.com reported.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary Simon Limage and other American officials discussed "best practices in border security, and strategic trade controls...to prevent the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and illicit transfers of conventional weapons," the US State Department said.

Both parties "exchanged views and shared information on current smuggling threats and trends ", it added.

"These discussions pave the way for future co-operation between the United States and Algeria to strengthen national, international and regional capabilities to counter illicit trafficking of nuclear and radioactive materials," the communiqué said.

Algerian authorities are already taking steps to secure the frontier.

"Border surveillance and control measures in the south-west of the country have been strengthened and adjusted in line with the new demands of the fight against trafficking networks and other forms of crime," Colonel Djamel Abdessalem Z'ghida announced on Tuesday.

These measures "are supported by daily aerial surveillance of these borders, which is currently being conducted by the air force of the National People's Army (NPA)", he said.

For both Algerian officials and citizens, the al-Qaeda attack last month on the In Amenas gas complex made the issue of border control a priority.

Illizi Senator Abbas Bouamama said it was essential "to involve the local population in the fight against terrorism".

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