US, EU seek consensus on securing cargo shipments from terrorists

(By Deutsche Welle) Washington views commercial cargo shipments as a potential source of terrorist attacks, if strict monitoring standards are not implemented. US Homeland Security chief Napolitano is in Europe to advocate the US position.

Washington does not currently plan to implement a congressional requirement that calls for every single container to be screened at its port of departure before shipping off for the United States, US Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano said as she toured Europe to discuss trans-Atlantic security cooperation.

“We believe the so-called 100 percent requirement is probably not the best way to go,” Napolitano said Wednesday in Rotterdam.

In the decade since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Washington has sought to implement its own stringent security standards at airports and commercial ports around the world in order to counter the perceived threat of another impending terrorist strike.

In reaction to this threat assessment, the US Congress passed a provision in 2007 that called for all containers to be screened at their ports of departure by 2012, sparking controversy in Europe.

Many European officials argued that the measure would have a direct impact on Europe’s internal market, unfairly diverting goods to ports that had implemented Washington’s security standards.

“Obviously the US feels much more threatened than the European Union,” Patryk Pawlak, an expert on homeland security issues in the US and EU, told Deutsche Welle.

Last October, British authorities intercepted a parcel bomb of Yemeni origin at the East Midlands airport. The explosive-filled computer printer ink cartridge was addressed to a Jewish synagogue in Chicago.

“The attempt with the ink cartridges for printers last year really shows that the European Union is a potential territory for the transit of such tools, so that’s why the US is trying to motivate the European side,” said Pawlak, a scholar at the Paris-based European Union Institute for Security Studies.

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