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13 June 2003

Homeland Security Department Enhances Port Security Measures

(Agency able to screen, board all high-risk vessels coming to U.S.,
Ridge says) (1000)


The U.S. Homeland Security Department is boosting its existing
programs aimed at preventing terrorists from using commercial ships
and cargo containers to mount attacks in the United States, the
department's head says.


In June 12 remarks at Port Elizabeth, New Jersey, Homeland Security
Secretary Tom Ridge announced measures to enhance programs to screen
high-risk containers in foreign ports, ensure their security and
integrity as they move through the supply chain and increase
surveillance in U.S. ports.


Ridge said that through these measures, which are about "building on
our capabilities and strengthening each layer of defense," the
department is able to screen and board all high-risk vessels coming
into U.S. ports, according to a June 13 department news release.

The Container Security Initiative (CSI) will be expanded to the Middle
East region and Islamic countries such as Turkey and Malaysia, the
department said. Under CSI, U.S. customs officials work with their
counterparts in foreign ports to identify high-risk containers and
search these containers before they are shipped to U.S. ports.

The department said it also will boost financing for a pilot program
to develop new container security technologies in partnership between
public agencies and the private sector and provide additional grant
funding for "important" security upgrades in U.S. ports.

Following is the text of news release:

(begin text)

U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Secretary Ridge Announces New Initiatives For Port Security
June 12, 2003

NEWARK, NJ -- U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, during an
event at Port Elizabeth, New Jersey highlighting the Department's
efforts to secure our nation's ports, announced new port security
initiatives and investments to provide increased international
cooperation, greater use of technology, and additional funds for port
security facility enhancements.

"The port security measures we are putting in place -- both here at
home and abroad -- are about building on our capabilities and
strengthening each layer of defense. Through information sharing with
our international partners; several different levels of inspection;
review of intelligence information on the crew, cargo and vessel long
before they reach our shores; state-of-the-art technology; and, of
course, vigilance at every turn, we are able to screen and board 100
percent of high-risk vessels coming into our ports," said Secretary
Ridge.

The measures announced today further build on a comprehensive port
security strategy and range of enhancements directed by the President
following September 11, 2001. Today's announcements, outlined below,
include the second phase of the Container Security Initiative (CSI),
$170 million in port security grants, and $58 million in funding for
Operation Safe Commerce.

Enhancing Container Security -- Phase 2

The Container Security Initiative, an existing Department of Homeland
Security program incorporating side by side teamwork with foreign port
authorities to identify, target, and search high-risk cargo, will now
be expanded to strategic locations beyond the initial 20 major ports
to include areas of the Middle East such as Dubai as well as Turkey
and Malaysia.

"The Container Security Initiative has emerged as a formidable tool
for protecting us from the threat of terrorism," said Secretary Ridge.
"Now that we have almost achieved our goal for CSI at nearly all of
the top 20 ports, we will be expanding CSI to other ports 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 top 20 ports account for 68 percent of all cargo containers
arriving at U.S. seaports. Governments representing 19 of these ports
have agreed to implement CSI during the first phase including an
agreement with the government of Thailand for the Port of Laem Chabang
that was signed by Secretary Ridge and Thailand's Foreign Minister on
June 11. Phase 2 of CSI will enable the Department to extend port
security protection from 68 percent of container traffic to more than
80 percent -- casting the safety net of CSI far and wide.

Helping Secure Our Port Facilities -- Port Security Grants Programs

Secretary Ridge announced the Department's commitment to enhancing
security at our nation's key ports and facilities though $170 million
dollars in port security grants.

The Port Security Grant Program funds security planning and projects
to improve dockside and perimeter security. The latest round of
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) grants have been awarded
to 199 state and local governments, and private companies for $170
million. These new awards will contribute to important security
upgrades like new patrol boats in the harbor, surveillance equipment
at roads and bridges, and the construction of new command and control
facilities. TSA, the United States Coast Guard and the Department of
Transportation's Maritime Administration evaluated the Port Security
Grant applications and selected grant award recipients. In 2002, $92
million was awarded in the first round of Port Security grants.

In addition to the $170 million, the Department of Homeland Security
also provided $75 million in port security grants for specific
projects from the FY '03 [fiscal year 2003] supplemental budget. The
funds will be distributed by the Office for Domestic Preparedness to
cover recent infrastructure security protective measures, security
enhancements, training, exercises, equipment, planning, and
information sharing.

Using Technology and Teamwork -- Operation Safe Commerce

As part of the Department's effort to secure cargo as it moves though
the port, Secretary Ridge announced $58 million in funding for
Operation Safe Commerce, a pilot program in coordination with the
Department of Transportation that brings together private business,
ports, local, state, and federal representatives to analyze current
security procedures for cargo entering the country. The program's
objective is to prompt research and development for emerging
technology to monitor the movement and ensure the security and
integrity of containers through the supply chain. The ports of Seattle
and Tacoma, Los Angeles and Long Beach, and the Port Authority of New
York/New Jersey are participating in the pilot program.

(end text)

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