NNSA PDA Frank Rose on Middle East trip
NNSA Principal Deputy Administrator Frank Rose receives a briefing on SESAME and the facility that houses it from Dr. Khaled Toukan, Chairman of the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission.

NNSA Principal Deputy Administrator Frank Rose visited Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates to strengthen cooperation on nuclear security issues and learn more about regional partners’ activities and concerns related to NNSA’s national security missions.

In Jordan, Rose met with Chairman of the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC), Dr. Khaled Toukan, and other JAEC officials. Dr. Toukan discussed Jordan’s energy issues and provided a tour of SESAME (Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East), which Rose praised as “a wonderful example of scientific diplomacy.” Rose subsequently met with members of Jordan’s National Center for Security and Crisis Management and Royal Scientific Society (RSS), and toured the Jordanian Research and Training Reactor.

Rose also met with administrators at the Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST), where he delivered remarks and took questions during a meeting with professors and students. In addition to providing an overview of NNSA’s missions and discussing the challenges posed by the current global security environment, he complimented U.S.-Jordanian cooperation “on all aspects of nuclear security, from physical security to transport security to emerging issues such as cybersecurity.” Rose also lauded Jordan’s professional development and educational efforts in the areas of nuclear security, citing JUST’s Department of Nuclear Engineering, Institute of Nuclear Material Management Student Chapter, and coordination with RSS including participation in NNSA’s Women in Nuclear Security initiative. “This next generation of nuclear security experts will be critical to ensuring U.S. and Jordanian security, and global stability,” Rose said. “And I’m proud that together, the United States and Jordan are working to develop and support this next generation of nuclear security experts worldwide.”

In Qatar, Rose met with Minister of Environment and Climate Change Sheikh Dr. Faleh Al Thani to discuss counter nuclear smuggling and emergency preparedness initiatives, including a draft NNSA-Qatar Memorandum of Understanding on the prevention of illicit trafficking of nuclear and radioactive material.  Rose also met with Qatar’s National Committee for the Prohibition of Weapons, an important partner helping to train and prepare first responders for CBRNE threats, who shared emergency response lessons learned from the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup.

While in Doha, Rose also co-chaired a U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue session on Energy and Climate. In his opening remarks, Rose emphasized “the importance and vitality of the U.S.-Qatar strategic partnership” and thanked Qatar “for its continued efforts to address the threat of nuclear smuggling.” Rose and Co-Chairman Abdulrahman al-Abduljaber discussed opportunities for learning and expanded partnership between NNSA and Qatar.

Rose met with His Excellency Jasem Al-Budaiwi, Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He provided an overview of the NNSA and its missions in the context of the current international security environment, and suggested expanding radiological security partnership with the GCC’s six members. Al-Budawi acknowledged the interest amongst the GCC states in expanding cooperative efforts and proposed potential paths forward.

Rose also conducted meetings with Saudi officials during his visit to the Kingdom. He received an overview of the Ministry of Energy’s activities and interests from Dr. Nasser Al-Dossari, Assistant Minister for International Affairs. Rose proposed radiological security and emergency preparedness and response as potential areas of cooperation, to which Dr. Al-Dossari expressed interest. Rose also met with Dr. Abdullah Al-Tayer, Senior Advisor to the Undersecretary of Multilateral Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Rose emphasized U.S. support for civil nuclear power, while stressing the need for International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards to mitigate the associated risks. Dr. Al-Tayer stated he was “fully supportive” of potential collaborative efforts on issues such as radiological security, counter-nuclear smuggling, and emergency response programs.

Rose concluded the trip in Abu Dhabi, where he conducted meetings with an array of UAE officials, including: His Excellency Raoul Awad, Deputy Director General of the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR); His Excellency Talal Mohammed Al Teneiji, Executive Officer for Control and Nonproliferation at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and His Excellency Mohamed Al Hammadi, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Company (ENEC).  In these discussions, Rose praised the UAE as “a model for responsible nuclear behavior in the region” and noted “our close cooperation with the UAE on civil nuclear, nonproliferation, and export control issues.” He proposed additional joint training efforts between NNSA and FANR and ENEC to address rapidly evolving technological threats to security, such as uncrewed aerial vehicles and cyberattacks.

“It would be difficult to overstate how much I learned on this trip,” Rose stated upon his return to the United States. “It was reassuring to see and hear firsthand how strongly our regional partners are committed to nuclear security issues and that they are eager to find ways to collaborate to meet our common challenges.”