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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 467-99
October 06, 1999

U.S. AND THE REPUBLIC OF AZERBAIJAN SIGN WMD COUNTER-PROLIFERATION AGREEMENT

Deputy Secretary of Defense John Hamre and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan Tofiq Zulfugarov signed an agreement on Sept. 28 pledging cooperation in the counterproliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and related materials. As a result of the agreement, the Defense Department, in cooperation with the U.S. Customs Service, and together with other departments and agencies, will begin to train and equip Azerbaijani officials in techniques of preventing, deterring, and investigating incidents involving the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and related materials.

This is the first security-related agreement signed between the two countries and signifies a new stage in their bilateral national security relationship. Congress has authorized this program under section 1424 of the fiscal year 1997 National Defense Authorization Act.

This program, which operates in other countries of the Former Soviet Union, and Central and Eastern Europe typically provides training for customs and border guards officials in techniques to detect and stop weapons of mass destruction at border checkpoints. It also provides equipment, ranging from such basic items as hand tools and flashlights, to contraband detectors and radiation detectors.

These efforts complement other U.S. government programs that assist countries in developing effective legal infrastructures, licensing systems, and enforcement mechanisms that assist in establishing export control systems. These efforts assist in combating the proliferation of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons; dual use items; and in controlling inappropriate transfers of conventional weapons.

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