Djibouti and the United States Forging a Strong Partnership in Sustaining a Nuclear Security Detection Architecture
Author: Jason Padilla, Osman Hassan Farah
The strong partnership between the United States and Djibouti is a successful representation of a multi-year effort to develop a nuclear detection architecture. Proper implementation and sustainment of a successful nuclear security regime is not a simple endeavor; it requires dedication to building the necessary regulatory framework, and maintenance of the numerous types of required resources. Djibouti’s successful efforts to develop this detection architecture demonstrate that smaller, resource-constrained countries can successfully conduct detection of radiological and nuclear material.
This partnership began as a project to equip Doraleh Container Terminal (DCT) with five radiation portal monitors (RPMs) and ancillary equipment, including handhelds and identification measures. This proved to be only the start of a much larger framework for a nuclear security detection architecture in Djibouti. The United States and Djibouti then partnered to deploy Mobile Detection Systems (MDS). In order to deploy MDS to Djibouti, the equipment needed to be adapted to accommodate Djibouti’s uniquely harsh climate and geological terrain. When the Doraleh Multipurpose Port (DMP) was constructed, Djibouti insisted on developing infrastructure for radiation detection. As a result, there are now five lanes covering all import and export traffic at the DMP. In 2019, two border sites with Somalia and Ethiopia were installed with radiation detection capabilities.
Djibouti now performs a majority of maintenance functions and has developed a strong partnership between Djibouti National Security, Djibouti Customs and Department of Energy. Djibouti has been quick to adopt NSDD’s principles, including starting a Train the Trainer program which will start with an internal assessment of their capabilities. Djibouti has taken the basics of regulatory framework and now through years of cooperation with NSDD, completes the associated administrative processes to ensure the continued success of a nuclear security regime.
This paper will elaborate on the successes, challenges, and lessons learned, in this multi-year cooperation between the U.S. and Djibouti, and also serve as an opportunity for Djibouti to highlight some the structure of their detection architecture.