09TBILISI952, GEORGIA: SECURITY SITUATION AT THE MTSKHETA

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI952 2009-05-21 14:05 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO0064
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0952/01 1411405
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 211405Z MAY 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1608
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMCSUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFITT/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RULSDMK/NSA US WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEANFA/NRC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/US CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA PRIORITY 0048

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000952 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DOE/NNSA PLEASE PASS TO CATHERINE KENNEDY 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/06/2019 
TAGS: KNNP MNUC KCRM PARM PINR GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: SECURITY SITUATION AT THE MTSKHETA 
RADIOACTIVE STORAGE FACILITY 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT FOR REASONS 1.4 B AND D 
 
1. (U) This is an action cable.  Please see paragraph 7. 
 
2. (C) Summary and Comment. The radioactive storage facility 
in Mtskheta, the permanent storage facility in Georgia for 
disused radioactive sources, is in need of a strengthened 
security guard presence, according to local experts and 
police.  The Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security 
Administration/Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) 
program has done a tremendous job in upgrading the physical 
infrastructure and security procedures of the facility, and 
will be further upgrading the alarm system this summer. 
However, one area in the overall system still in need of 
improvement is guard security procedures and manning.  While 
post does not consider the current situation an immediate 
threat, the facility is widely known to house radioactive 
material and is easy to access, located just off the main 
highway north of Tbilisi and not far from the embassy.  In 
order to provide more robust security at the site, the 
Government of Georgia could designate the facility a site of 
strategic national importance, which would in turn require 
the government to provide state protection for the facility. 
End Summary and Comment. 
 
CURRENT SECURITY SITUATION 
 
3. (C) The radioactive storage facility is on the property of 
the decommissioned nuclear reactor in Mtskheta, a few miles 
north of Tbilisi.  It is maintained by the E. Andronikashvili 
Institute of Physics (IOP), which is part of the Ministry of 
Education and Science.  The current security system 
components that GTRI has provided include deadbolt locks for 
doors; security lock boxes for key control; a two-person rule 
procedure in which each storage room door requires two 
independent keys and personnel to open it; siren/strobe light 
alarms; fixed and mobile duress buttons; motion sensors for 
each storage room and access entry; balanced magnetic 
switches on the doors; CCTV cameras, monitor and digital 
recording system; backup power via a diesel generator; 
exterior lighting; central alarm station room; and vibration 
sensors to detect penetration in the road side exterior wall. 
 GTRI also ensures that personnel at the facility have been 
trained and a response plan for the facility developed.  GTRI 
contracts for warranty and maintenance visits on a quarterly 
basis.  GTRI will be upgrading the alarm system this summer 
with the ability to conduct surveillance of the facility at 
off-site locations, thereby providing redundancy to the 
primary security system described above. 
 
4. (C) Currently, the IOP has a private contract with the 
Security Police Department (SPD) to provide security guards. 
The current contract between SPD and IOP allows for six 
guards from their Mtskheta Division to be on site 24/7. 
Their main responsibility is to perform perimeter checks of 
the entire territory, which is about three hectares, 
consistently throughout the day and night.  However, 
according to IOP personnel and as observed by poloff, the 
guards spend a majority of their time stationed at the main 
Qguards spend a majority of their time stationed at the main 
entrance to the property and do not even have direct line of 
sight to the storage facility, whose back wall is exposed to 
the road.  IOP personnel claim that the guards are 
inexperienced and turn over frequently.  IOP requested that 
the guards perform the perimeter checks, but were told that 
this would cost more money.  Neither the IOP nor the Ministry 
of Education, which controls IOP's budget, has the financial 
resources to meet the increasing demands of the SPD.  IOP 
employees told poloff that they often take it upon themselves 
to "guard" the facility due to the lack of acceptable 
security procedures exhibited by the guards.  On 20 May, at 
the Preventing Nuclear Smuggling Program Scenario-Based 
Workshop, an official with the Nuclear and Radiation Safety 
Service (NRSS) also discussed the issue of security at the 
facility, noting especially the lack of expertise displayed 
by the current security guards. 
 
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT 
 
5. (C) Mamuka Komakhia, the Deputy Chair of the Security 
Police Department, whose department provides the current 
security guards to the site, also raised concerns regarding 
 
TBILISI 00000952  002 OF 002 
 
 
the current situation.  Due to the line of sight constraints 
from the main entrance, he recommended that a control post be 
established at the entrance of the storage facility with a 
static gua
rd presence.  He also suggested a barrier be 
erected at the entrance as a deterrent.  However, without a 
financial increase in the contract, he would not be able to 
make these changes. 
 
6. (C) The IOP has repeatedly appealed to the Government of 
Georgia for at least eight years, through letters to the 
Prime Minister, that it declare the facility a site of 
strategic importance, which would afford it state protection 
by specially trained guards.  Besides acknowledging receipt 
of IOP's letters, the Prime Minister's office has not 
responded to IOP's requests.  According to post's 
understanding of the law entitled "Engineering and Geodetic 
Control and Safety of Units (or Locations) Deemed Strategic 
and of Special Importance," the storage facility does qualify 
for this protection.  Article 4 of the law states that 
facilities that are considered of strategic importance 
include buildings/facilities of those plants that use 
radioactive or toxic material as well as manufacturing, 
scientific-construction, military, customs and border control 
facilities that are necessary to provide for the country's 
security protection.  Further, article 9 states that State 
Supervision protection of such facilities is exercised by 
Ministry of Defense, Special Protection Service, State 
Security Service, Ministry of Internal Affairs, State 
Surveillance Service, Border Protection Service - within the 
area of their competence. 
 
7. (C)  The IOP has asked the Embassy to express USG support 
in order to designate the facility a GOG site of strategic 
importance. Post requests Department guidance in responding 
to this request. 
TEFFT

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