US ports are not being protected enough against the threat of possible nuclear attack by terrorists, said the chair of a Congressional subcommittee in Washington.
Addressing the Homeland Security Committee’s Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee on the theme of “the maritime nuclear smuggling threat” Representative Duncan Hunter (Republican from California) outlined the nightmare scenarios being envisaged.
“I remain concerned that we are still not employing the best technology to detect the presence of nuclear or radiological material in containerized cargo,” said Hunter.
“However, containers are not the only avenue for smuggling harmful materials and weapons into US ports. Small vessels pose an equally devastating threat and are just as difficult as containers to determine legitimate uses from potential threats.
Commercial and recreational small vessels can easily blend into the daily activity of US waterways yet can be converted to a stand-off weapons platform or used as a direct-attack to deliver a water-borne improvised explosive device.”
Other committee members, calling for increasing the ratio of containers screened from the current 4%, challenged Customs and Border Protections assertions that increased screening would be too big a drag on the movement of cargo.
Representative Janice Han (Democrat from California), who advocates 100% screening, disputed figures cited by Customs officials regarding potential delays to cargo processing.
“I believe there’s technology that exists today that would accomplish both: that would keep us safe and not slow us down,” Representative Hahn said.