U.S., Tajikistan in final phase of establishing nonproliferation training exercise

The U.S. and Tajikistan will establish an exercise training area at the Tajik Customs facility to prevent the illicit flow of weapons of mass destruction-related materials, the State Department said on Tuesday.

Simon Limage, the assistant secretary for nonproliferation programs with the State Department's Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, made the announcement during a speech in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Limage said the U.S. Export Control and Related Border Security program and Tajik Customs were in the final phase of establishing the training area to allow Tajik officials to train on the full-spectrum of detection and inspection scenarios.

Limage praised Tajikistan's efforts in improving counter WMD and nuclear smuggling capabilities.

"Tajikistan has proven an invaluable partner in its efforts to secure its borders from the illicit flow of WMD materials by strengthening both its infrastructure to detect and its capacity to enforce," Limage said. "We remain concerned that nuclear materials may remain available on the black market and could potentially fall into terrorist hands. Therefore, we applaud Tajikistan's work to improve its counter nuclear smuggling capabilities, including by implementing steps identified in the Joint Action Plan to Counter Nuclear Smuggling that our governments signed in November 2011."

Limage said that U.S. President Barack Obama is steadfast in his commitment to eliminate the worldwide threat of nuclear weapons. He said the U.S. and its relationship with Tajikistan will play a key role in creating a world without nuclear weapons.

"Our U.S.-Tajik bilateral nonproliferation partnership will continue to play a critical role in transforming Central Asian into a region as that mitigates these particular security threats," Limage said. "The United States appreciates Tajikistan's continued support on these key issues and we look forward to our two countries' future collaboration."