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Transformational Diplomacy to Protect the Maritime Supply Chain

Andrew Grant, Deputy Director, Office of Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism
Remarks to the Marine Log-sponsored Maritime and Port Security Conference and Expo
Crystal City, VA
January 23, 2007

In many ways, 9/11 changed the way the government and the private sector partner to combat terrorism. Many government agencies and departments have taken steps to build partnerships with the private sector. For example, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Energy (DOE) have demonstrated strong leadership for improving Maritime and Port Security, largely based on public-private partnerships and international cooperation. The Container Security Initiative and the DOE Megaports Initiative are two well-known and successful international partnerships that support the U.S. government mission to make the global maritime supply chain more secure. The Secure Freight Initiative, which was announced by Secretary Chertoff in December 2006, is a close collaboration between DHS and DOE. The Secure Freight Initiative is a demonstration of a multi-lateral partnership in that both foreign governments and privately-owned maritime terminal operators have teamed together with us to improve our ability to scan U.S. bound cargo with radiation detection equipment and non-intrusive imaging equipment for nuclear and other radiological materials. The Secure Freight Initiative is a good example of where new partnerships are being developed to mitigate WMD terrorism risk.

Public-private sector partnerships such as these are critical because WMD terrorism is one of the gravest threats we face. Casualty estimates of a successful nuclear or biological terrorist attack in a major city exceed a quarter million. Disaster for the local population and business in the vicinity of a detonation or outbreak would be immense and the ripple effect of "business losses" and "lost businesses" across the globe would reach the trillions of dollars if critical supply chain hubs were unable to operate for any length of time.

A catastrophic WMD terrorist attack, however, will cause more than casualties and economic loss. It could change the way we live. A WMD terrorist attack could prompt serious blowback towards one culture or element of society blamed for the attack. Governments may also invoke far more intrusive law enforcement or intelligence collection measures. If terrorists used radiological material for the attack, a powerful anti-nuclear power backlash could surface.

We must recognize that terrorists will continue to attempt to turn our own technology and capabilities against us in unexpected ways. The 9/11 terrorists turned a seemingly harmless element of global commerce -- airplanes and the air travel industry -- into a lethal weapon against innocent civilians.

That is why taking steps to further protect the global maritime supply chain is so important. The global maritime supply chain's ability to provide convenient and cheap goods has become the norm and critical supply chain hubs, such as Long Beach, Singapore, and Antwerp are examples of the key intersections between supply chain elements that run our economy. They are also, however, (to use a military phrase) target-rich environments for terrorists.

The U.S. Government seeks to work closely with the private sector at all levels to effectively manage the risk of WMD terrorism and to protect these intersections of our infrastructure, our fellow Americans, and our friends overseas. We understand it is a great challenge to maintain the security of the global maritime supply chain as goods hop through multiple ports to arrive at our local stores.

We also know that a focus on the threat alone does not defeat terrorism. Managing WMD terrorism risk extends the responsibility of government and industry beyond the threat. Effective WMD terrorism risk management includes reducing our vulnerability to WMD terrorism and establishing effective crisis and consequence management steps that limit the outcomes of a WMD terrorist attack. To manage all three elements of WMD terrorism risk, we must increase the strength of our current partnerships and establish new partnerships.

My organization, the U.S. Department of State, generates international support for programs like Megaports and Secretary Rice has made it clear that the Department of State must adapt to defeat emerging threats through transformational diplomacy.

Transformational diplomacy is rooted in partnerships -- in existing relations as well as new ones. We seek to implement Secretary Rice's vision of transformational diplomacy by developing new partnerships to protect the global maritime supply chain against WMD terrorism.

In July last year, Presidents Bush and Putin announced the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. The Global Initiative is transformational diplomacy. The Initiative provides industry with another opportunity to partner with governments who are committed to protecting the global maritime supply chain from nuclear and radiological threats. Three principal goals of the Global Initiative are:

  • Developing detection capabilities to identify and disrupt the movement of nuclear material by or to terrorists;
  • Establishing consequence management measures and procedures to limit disruption from an attack, including to the supply chain; and
  • Information-sharing regarding potential and actual threats to enable cooperative action against transnational networks.

All Global Initiative Partner Nations (which currently includes the United States, Russia, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Turkey, and the United Kingdom) are committed to "work with the private sector to enhance the implementation of the…Global Initiative Principles."
To translate this commitment into action, we encourage private sector organizations here today to propose opportunities to develop government-business solutions to manage the risk of WMD terrorism in the global maritime supply chain. With that in mind, I thought I might leave you with three ideas on how public-private partnerships involving the maritime industry can mitigate the risk of WMD terrorism.

1.  Promoting Best Practices: Private firms that own, operate, and insure ports and the shipping and logistics providers that work with them recognize that promoting best security practices across the global maritime supply chain protects our national security, protects individual corporate reputation, and enhances bottom lines.

2.  Developing New Technologies: Introduction and compatibility of new technology, particularly in fields such as enterprise risk management, detection systems, biometric identity verification tools, GPS location technology, Radiofrequency Identification (or RFID), and wireless networking keeps us one step ahead of our enemies.

3.  Strengthening Information Sharing: If 9/11 taught us one lesson, it was that we must share information more rapidly and effectively to connect the dots as a terrorist plot develops. Technology, common terminology, and greater transparency will provide us with incredible potential to strengthen government-business information-sharing.

Your businesses deserve great credit for already helping to secure and sustain the global maritime supply chain. Our goal is to stay one step ahead of terrorists who attempt to twist that success into an opportunity to attack us with Weapons of Mass Destruction. Today, the government shares the frontlines of the War on Terror with you and we are determined to strengthen existing partnerships and build new ones for the security of the American people, our economy, and our way of life.

I want to thank MarineLog for the opportunity to make these remarks today. I look forward to meeting you or answering any questions you might have.

Released on January 30, 2007

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