WASHINGTON, D.C. - The United States and Hong Kong exchanged letters of understanding today to build upon existing efforts to scan U.S. bound cargo and help thwart the illicit trafficking of nuclear and other radioactive material. The understanding establishes the U.S. government's Secure Freight Initiative (SFI) in the port of Hong Kong. SFI, which is being implemented at ports overseas to increase the scanning of cargo for dangerous, smuggled material, is a joint effort between the Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).
"With the partnerships established under the Secure Freight Initiative we are able to improve port and cargo security not only in the United States, but also around the world. The goal is to screen more cargo and ultimately help to prevent nuclear materials or devices from being smuggled into the United States or partner countries," said NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation William Tobey.
The new arrangement will implement SFI on a limited capacity at a single container terminal operated by Modern Terminals Ltd. It will expand on existing radiation detection equipment in the port of Hong Kong. NNSA, through its Megaports Initiative, will help to train personnel and provide handheld radiation detection equipment to officials. CBP will assist Hong Kong in scanning U.S.-bound cargo and resolving potential alarms as appropriate.
The letters were signed by the U.S. Acting Consul General in Hong Kong Mr. Christopher J. Marut, and by Hong Kong's Director-General of Trade and Industry Mr. Joseph Lai Yee-tak and Commissioner of Customs and Excise Mr. Richard Yuen Ming-fai.
To fulfill requirements under the law in the Security and Accountability For Every Port Act of 2006, SFI was established to evaluate the feasibility of scanning 100 percent of all cargo bound for the United States with radiation detection and non-intrusive imaging equipment. SFI will be first established in three ports: Port Qasim, Pakistan; Puerto Cortés, Honduras; and Southampton, United Kingdom.
Ports in four countries - Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Oman – will implement SFI on a limited, pilot capacity. The results of the four pilot projects will be used to provide guidance on future expansions of SFI, and help the United States determine the impact of radiation and non-intrusive imaging scanning at large volume ports and ports where a large number of transshipments are processed.
Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a separately organized agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the United States and abroad.
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