US ambassador warns of risk of nuclear, radiological goods in wrong hands at ports

Kenya Ports Authority Managing Director Dr. Daniel Manduku looks on as US Ambassador to Kenya Kyle Mccarter address journalists after donating state of the art scanning equipment to be used at the port of Mombasa, June 19, 2019. The new scanning machines will enhance security in scanning containerized cargo either for export or imports. [Gideon Maundu/Standard]

The US government is concerned that terrorists could use Mombasa port to ferry narcotics, nuclear and radiological material.

The embassy, through a statement, warned yesterday that legitimate nuclear or radiological cargo was prone to misuse by terrorists, hence the need for vigilance at ports of entry.

The statement indicated that for close to 10 years the US' Export Control and Border Security Progamme had worked with Kenyan agencies to improve security at Kenya's entry ports.

This checked and prevented proliferation of weapons of mass destruction as well as conventional weapons.

To boost this, the Americans, working in conjunction with several countries and the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), supplied Kenya with equipment to detect the illicit cargo.

Yesterday, the US ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter toured Mombasa port to witness how the equipment works to detect nuclear and radiological matter.

He also checked on how a multi-agency team at the port analysed shipping documents to assess risk associated to strategic goods.

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According to the statement, some of the suspect goods were legitimate cargo with dual use capability "in that they are generally used for legitimate industry, but can also be misused to develop a weapon."

McCarter handed over the Sh3 billion monitoring tool to Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) to be used at the Mombasa port.

He held a closed-door meeting with KPA Managing Director Daniel Manduku, Kenya Revenue Authority officials, led by regional boss Nicholas Kinoti, and other officials at KPA headquarters.

The envoy said his government had installed 11 radiation portal monitors and central alarm station provided portable monitors to ensure any nuclear material was detected effectively.

“We will continue working with Kenya in many areas for the success of our families and particularly for youths,” said McCarter.

He said the US was also working with UNODC to tackle the drug menace.

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US governmentKyle McCarterMombasa portDrugs