Bilateral Bulgarian-US exercise “TANGRA” tests national procedures for detecting nuclear and radioactive materials at the border09 September 2022 News
In the period 7-9 September 2022, the bilateral Bulgarian-US command and staff exercise “TANGRA TTX” was held, jointly organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the U.S. State Department, in cooperation with the Institute for Nuclear Research and Nuclear Energy at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Embassy to Bulgaria. The event brought together leading specialists from Bulgaria and the United States at the Quasar Innovative Event Center in the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences complex in Sofia to verify and practically test the national procedures for the detection of nuclear and radioactive materials at Bulgarian land and air border checkpoints, including the so-called “green border”.
The exercise was opened with congratulatory speeches by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Kostadin Kodzhabashev, US Ambassador to Bulgaria Herro Mustafa and Assoc. Prof. Lachezar Georgiev, Director of the Institute for Nuclear Research and Nuclear Energy-BAS. In their opening remarks, they underscored the critical importance of good preparedness for the rapid and effective detection and countering of the illicit transport of nuclear and radioactive materials through airports, ports and land borders to safeguard the integrity of national borders and the security of countries and their citizens. In this sense, the “TANGRA TTX” exercise - as a demonstration of the common commitment to improving national security - provides an opportunity for Bulgarian experts to learn best practices in detecting and preventing the illicit cross-border transfer and transport of nuclear and radioactive material, as well as to exchange practical experience and knowledge with their American counterparts through a practical test of the Bulgarian national procedures for dealing with the detection of nuclear and radioactive materials at border checkpoints.
Participants in the exercise from the Bulgarian side were a number of representatives of the executive (officials in the sectors of security, preservation of internal order, civil protection, health, export control of arms, etc.), the judiciary (officials of the Prosecutor’s Offices and Investigations Offices) and national scientific and academic circles.
As speakers and presenters, the U.S. side sent experienced experts from the U.S. State Department and Department of Energy, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. The participants were also given a demonstration with specialized technical equipment - the mobile CBRN laboratory, which is at the disposal of the Institute for Nuclear Research and Nuclear Energy at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences under the D-EMERSYS project.
From a foreign policy point of view, the “TANGRA TTX” exercise is of particular significance as an expression of the active and dynamic bilateral cooperation between Bulgaria and the United States in the field of nuclear security. It builds on the previous assistance of the US side, which is practically expressed by the equipment donated by the US Department of Energy for over 50 million dollars, which equipped a number of Bulgarian border checkpoints with detectors for nuclear and radioactive material and the comprehensive assistance provided to the Bulgarian competent authorities.