Greece, US in container deal

Greece yesterday signed a deal with the US allowing American customs officers to carry out security scans on commercial shipping containers leaving the country’s largest seaport for the US. According to a statement from the US Embassy in Athens, the deal was signed in Brussels between James Loy, deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and the head of Greece’s Directorate-General of Customs and Excise, Vassilis Manolopoulos. There was no official notification of the deal from Greek authorities. The statement said that under the «declaration of principles» signed in Brussels, with which Greece joined the Container Security Initiative (CSI), Greek and US customs officials will identify and screen cargo containers destined for the US from the port of Piraeus. Furthermore, America will lend Greece equipment to screen goods delivered to Olympic venues during the August 13-29 Games. Greece has the biggest merchant fleet in the EU, and one of the biggest in the world. «This is another important step in the war on terrorism and another indication of the good cooperation between our two countries on Olympic security,» US Ambassador Thomas Miller said. Loy described the CSI as «an insurance policy against terrorism,» saying the deal would detect and deter attempts by terrorists to exploit cargo containers. The necessary equipment, large-scale gamma-ray and x-ray imaging systems capable of scanning a 40-foot container in under a minute, will be provided by the US. A team of US Customs and Border Protection inspectors is expected to arrive in Greece by mid-July.