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Homeland Security

25 August 2004

U.S. Wants to Prescreen Most Cargo Containers from Overseas

Security initiative to expand to more ports, U.S. customs chief says

The Bush administration aims to have most shipping containers prescreened before coming to the United States as counter-terrorist security measures expand to more foreign seaports, the head of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) bureau says.

In an August 25 news release, CBP Commissioner Robert Bonner said his agency in the Department of Homeland Security plans to expand the Container Security Initiative (CSI) beyond the current 25 major international seaports to cover more than 80 percent of all U.S.-bound containers.

Under CSI, U.S. customs agents placed in foreign ports target U.S.-destined high-risk cargo containers and identify those that pose a potential terrorist risk for inspections by their local counterparts.

CBP said that CSI will expand to strategic ports that ship substantial amounts of cargo to the United States and have the capability to participate in the program.

Following is the text of the CBP news release:

(begin text)

U.S. Customs and Border Protection
U.S. Department of Homeland Security

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Achieves Container Security Initiative (CSI) Milestone Of 25 Operational Ports
08/25/2004

Washington -- U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Robert C. Bonner announced today a milestone in the Container Security Initiative (CSI) with 25 ports now operational in Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America.

"The 25 ports represent the world's major seaports, but we are not stopping there. We plan to expand the CSI network even farther," stated U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert C. Bonner. "The expansion will extend port security protection to more than 80 percent of all containers coming to the United States."

CSI will be expanding to strategic locations that ship substantial amounts of cargo to the United States, and that have the infrastructure and technology in place to participate in the program.

The 25 operational ports include: Halifax, Montreal, and Vancouver, Canada; Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Le Havre, France; Bremerhaven and Hamburg, Germany; Antwerp, Belgium; Singapore; Yokohama, Tokyo, Nagoya and Kobe, Japan; Hong Kong; Göteborg, Sweden; Felixstowe, United Kingdom; Genoa and La Spezia, Italy; Busan, Korea; Durban, South Africa; Port Klang and Tanjung Pelepas, Malaysia; Piraeus, Greece; Algeciras, Spain; Laem Chabang, Thailand.

CSI was proposed by Commissioner Bonner and launched in January 2002. CSI has been accepted globally as a bold and revolutionary initiative to secure maritime cargo shipments against the terrorist threat.

"The primary purpose of CSI is to help protect the global trading system and the trade lanes between CSI ports and the United States. By collaborating with foreign customs administrations, we are working towards a safer, more secure world trading system," Commissioner Bonner said.

The World Customs Organization and the G8 have supported CSI expansion through their adoption of resolutions that support the implementation of the security measures introduced by CSI at ports throughout the world. On April 22, 2004, the European Union and the Department of Homeland Security signed an agreement committing both parties to further cooperate on CSI and related matters.

CSI is a fully reciprocal program. Japanese and Canadian officers are currently stationed and working in key U.S. ports to screen containers destined for their respective countries.

CSI is founded on four core elements: 1) using intelligence and automated information to identify and target all containers that pose a risk for terrorism; (2) pre-screening those containers that pose a risk at the port of departure before they arrive at U.S. ports; (3) using detection technology to quickly pre-screen containers that pose a risk; and (4) using smarter, tamper-evident containers.

Non-Intrusive Inspection (NII) technology allows the screening of a larger portion of commercial traffic in less time. This enables targeting containers that pose a potential risk for terrorism while facilitating legitimate trade. Customs officers use large-scale gamma ray and x-ray imaging systems to safely and efficiently screen conveyances for contraband, including weapons of mass destruction.

These units can scan the interior of a full-size 40-foot container in under a minute.

As part of CSI, inspectors also use radiation detection devices to scan for signs of radioactive materials. If necessary, containers are opened and unloaded by the host government Customs service for a more intensive manual inspection. CSI officers observe this manual inspection.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is the agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the protection of our nation's borders. CBP unified Customs, Immigration, and Agriculture Inspectors and the Border Patrol into one border agency for the United States.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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