recommended reading

DHS Shifts Nuclear-Screening Focus to 'High-Risk' Cargo

Numerous cranes work three vessels loading and unloading shipping containers at the Georgia Ports Authority Garden City terminal in Savannah, Ga.

Numerous cranes work three vessels loading and unloading shipping containers at the Georgia Ports Authority Garden City terminal in Savannah, Ga. // Stephen B. Morton/AP File Photo

Homeland Security officials said they are moving to tighten overseas checks of U.S.-bound cargo containers deemed likely to be hiding nuclear contraband.

Federal authorities hope foreign seaports will eventually scan all cargo they consider at "high risk" of containing weapon-usable nuclear or radiological materials, according to Wednesday testimony by Kevin McAleenan, acting deputy commissioner for Customs and Border Protection.

About 15 percent still is not checked before reaching U.S. shores, McAleenan said at a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

"We're currently ... assessing how the threats have changed" in an effort to close the screening gap, he told committee lawmakers.

"Are [there] certain strategically important ports that we can add capability? Can we work with additional countries to encourage them to take some measures before [ships are loaded]?"

McAleenan discussed the focus on "high-risk" cargo about a month after Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told lawmakers his department would not meet a July deadline set by Congress for all U.S.-bound shipping containers to undergo screening at foreign ports for smuggled nuclear and radiological materials. Officials previously postponed the statutory screening deadline by two years.

The mandate is "highly improbable, hugely expensive [and] not the best use of taxpayer resources to meet this country's port security and homeland security needs," Johnson was quoted as saying in a May 5 letter to Senator John Carper (D-Del.), the Senate Homeland Security panel's chairman.

Johnson wrote that his department would focus its efforts on increasing "the percentage of high-risk cargo scanned by prioritizing diplomatic engagement with host governments to increase their support of current [Container Security Initiative] operations."

The department would also "discuss potential expansion of the initiative to additional key ports to ensure that such deployments align with high-risk cargo," he wrote.

This article was published in Global Security Newswire, which is produced independently by National Journal Group under contract with the Nuclear Threat Initiative. NTI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group working to reduce global threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

    Download
  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.