Beijing: China and the US kicked off a Megaports Initiative pilot project in Shanghai on Wednesday as part of efforts to prevent illegal transport of nuclear and other radioactive materials through one of the world's biggest port.

Under the project, all cargo at the city's Yangshan Port will undergo radiation checks.

The initiative, an important part of the China-US cooperation on fighting terrorism, is aimed at preventing the illegal transport of nuclear and other radioactive materials by installing detection systems in relevant ports, a news agency reported.

The two nations signed an MoU on the initiative in November 2005 and had began technical talks on 11 annexes in February 2006. The talks finished in May 2007.

According to the cooperation plan, the Yangshan Port pilot project will be jointly carried out by China's General Administration of Customs, China's Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine and the US Department of Energy.

"Through the initiative, China and the United States have done lots of fruitful work in customs security cooperation and radiation detection technology training, which laid a solid foundation for the two countries to carry out cooperation in combating terrorism," Lu Peijun, deputy commissioner of the General Administration of Customs, said at an inauguration ceremony for the pilot project at Yangshan Port.

"Meanwhile, the Megaports Initiative has also become an important channel for China to boost safety and facilitation in its global trade sector," he said.

To date, 18 sets of radiation detection equipment have been installed at the Yangshan deep-water port and a detection control center has also been built.

The start of the pilot project at Yangshan marks the 40th such port under the Megaports Initiative, as well as the initiative's first in China.

It reflects "the commitment of the Chinese government to interdicting nuclear material and in combating nuclear terrorism," Thomas D'Agostino, head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, said at the ceremony.

Yangshan Port had exported almost 3.9 million heavy containers in the first 10 months of this year, with 17.6 percent bound for the United States, customs statistics show.

(Agencies)