A top U.S. security official says more work is needed to ensure terrorists do not smuggle nuclear devices into the country.
The head of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, told the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation panel Wednesday that securing maritime cargo is a top concern.
Napolitano said port security has improved since the U.S. terror attacks on September 11, 2001, but she warned critical vulnerabilities remain.
Napolitano noted a pilot program at five foreign ports has uncovered difficulties in scanning all U.S.-bound cargo.
She said current technology is unable to effectively and automatically detect suspicious cargo, saying it cannot see through dense freight. She also noted that many ports do not have a single point through which all cargo passes, making the scanning process far too slow.
The Senate panel's chairman, Jay Rockefeller, expressed concern about the country's estimated 13 million small maritime vessels.
Secretary Napolitano said the United States is revising its small boat security strategy and expects the new plan will be completed in 2010.