I’m honored to join you to discuss this important step in strengthening our defenses against a terrorist attack. Secretary Bodman had planned to be here but has been called to a meeting with the President. He is sorry not to be at this important event personally.
The Department of Energy is providing $30 million to support the first phase of the Secure Freight Initiative. These funds will pay for the installation of radiation detection equipment and integrated communications systems at the initial ports covered by this program.
Under this first phase of the Secure Freight Initiative, the United States will work with our foreign partners to integrate data generated by our detection equipment with images from X-ray and gamma ray container scanners provided by DHS. With this integrated data set available, host country and U.S. customs officers will now be able to identify containers that may pose a threat before they are loaded on vessels bound for the United States. And the overall security of the international container transport system will be enhanced.
This new initiative is the latest step in the Administration’s ongoing efforts to protect America. From the outset of his administration, President Bush has provided strong support for the fight against nuclear terrorism. That effort involves all elements of the government. Under Secretary of State Joseph, for example, has played a major role in many of the international efforts.
I lead the National Nuclear Security Administration, the part of the Department of Energy that has managed the department’s participation in this project. Our nonproliferation mission is to keep the world’s most dangerous materials out of the hands of the world’s most dangerous people.
For more than a decade, NNSA and its predecessor agencies have worked with Russia and other former states of the Soviet Union to improve security of their nuclear weapons and radiological materials. The United States has helped secure 80 percent of the nuclear storage sites in Russia and the former Soviet Republics and work is now underway at the remaining sites. These efforts have effectively put raw material that could have been used to make thousands of nuclear weapons beyond the reach of terrorists.
NNSA also has the Second Line of Defense program under which we have installed radiation detection equipment at more than 100 rail, vehicle and seaport-border crossings around the world. One part of this program - the Megaports Initiative - is focused on installing radiation detection equipment at some seventy ports around the world that either generate a heavy flow of cargo or are located in regions of strategic interest.
The new Secure Freight Initiative will take what we have done in the Megaports program to a new level by combining detection data with scanned images of cargo containers to provide an even higher level of defense against smuggling of nuclear material.
While technology is critical to the effectiveness of this offshore security perimeter, so is close cooperation with our foreign partners. No nation can fight the war on terror alone and we expect the Secure Freight Initiative to bring about closer cooperation with our foreign government partners as well as with private sector shippers and terminal operators.
The integrated data generated by the Secure Freight initiative provides important information on all containers, regardless of destination, and will be shared with host nations, thus strengthening the overall security of the global supply chain.
We hope these first Secure Freight deployments will serve as a model that will eventually be adopted at all the world’s leading ports. We have worked closely with the Department of Homeland Security in putting this initiative together, drawing upon our complementary areas of expertise. We look forward to continuing our partnership as we expand this initiative to more ports around the world.