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Launched in 2002 the Container Security Initiative was envisaged as an extension to the secure boundaries of the United States of America. The CSI is a multinational programmed at protecting the global transit of trade from potential terrorist use of shipping containers to deliver a weapon system capable of large scale destruction to within the borders of mainland USA. The CSI supports both the strategic goals of both the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S.A. Customs and Border Protection force. We shall examine the strategic goals of the CSI and how the principles of security apply to these goals and objectives.

The Container Security Initiative comprises of three core elements:1.Using intelligence and automated advance targeting information to identify and target containers that pose a risk for terrorism;
2.Prescreening those containers that pose a risk at the port of departure before they arrive at the port of entry; and
3.Using state-of-the-art detection technology to scan container that pose a risk.

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To date the U.S Customs and Border Protection force is partnered with 58 foreign ports through which 80% of all maritime cargo bound for the United States of America passes. CBP teams located in these ports target and examine high-risk cargo before it is loaded on to a U.S. bound vessel. The deployment of these teams to work with foreign customs officials in the host country ports ensures the early warning and detection of any in bound threat. Incorporating the use of these teams ensures the principle of defence in depth and early warning, detecting and deterring a threat at distance, preventing the threat before it reaches the U.S. mainland, it also ensures the quality of the pre-screening of all at risk cargo prior to it’s loading.

When balancing the measures appropriate to the risk it is hard to quantify the probability of a terrorist plan to deliver a weapon of mass destruction to within the borders of the continental United States, while over the past decade we have seen a large flux of terrorist threats around the world, whether we will see another 9/11 size attack on the mainland United States is hard to assess without the higher levels of intelligence available to government agencies. It would be fair to say that the possibility exists, but to what extent is difficult to measure, on the other hand with the global maritime freight industry expected to reach the value of approximately USD 210 billion by 2021, any disruptions to the supply chain being very costly. “With it being estimated that a two day closure of a port would cost $58 Billion, while a detonation of a nuclear device would cost up to $1 Trillion dollars in damage. There is potential that this the of catastrophe could plunge a nation, or the world, into a dangerous economic downturn.”

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