CORRECTED: Full container screening 'not best' move: US security chief

23rd June 2011, Comments 0 comments

Asking ports of departure to perform full screening of containers before they travel to the US was probably not the best decision, US Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano said Wednesday.

"We believe the so-called 100 percent requirement is probably not the best way to go," Napolitano told reporters at a press briefing in Rotterdam, where she was visiting Europe's largest port and the fourth-largest globally.

Napolitano is on a week-long tour of Britain and Europe to beef up security ties within the global supply chain between the US, Britain and Europe and met her British counterpart Theresa May earlier this week, her office said.

On Thursday she is to meet EU ministers and will participate in a conference of the World Customs Organisation in Brussels, where she said she would deliver a similar message.

Asked about a 2007 US Congress requirement that all containers entering the US should be scanned by their ports of exit by 2012, Napolitano said: "We at this point are not going to insist on that."

Although the 2012 deadline was set by Congress, it did give her department the opportunity to extend it if 100 percent scanning wasn't feasible.

Napolitano has previously expressed doubt about whether the mandate for all containers to be scanned by 2012 would be met.

Napolitano said the Department of Homeland Security preferred a more "layered approach" including better co-operation between countries, better intelligence sharing and analysis, as well as some container scanning to prevent attacks on the United States.

"I think what we have learnt over time is that there are many different ways to achieve a security objective. You have to have multiple layers that operate effectively," she said.

Called the Container Security Initiative (CSI), the project is being run by 50 ports worldwide including Rotterdam.

The scanning initiative requires port customs to pre-scan and evaluate containers considered to be high-risk possibilities of being used in terror attacks before being put on ships bound for US ports.

Napolitano told a Congressional panel in February the US faced "heightened" threats of terror of attacks from extremists, probably the highest since the attacks of September 11, 2001.

© 2011 AFP

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