- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Coast Guard is placing extra security restrictions on commercial ships that make a port call in Iran before arriving in U.S. waters

Iran was placed on the port security advisory list this week and joins ports in Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Indonesia, Liberia, Mauritania and Syria already listed as having vulnerable anti-terrorism measures.

This is the first time Iran has been placed on the port-security advisory list, which Nadine Santiago,a Coast Guard spokeswoman, called “a technical decision” about port procedures.

“The Department of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Department of State and other agencies, reviewed port security in Iran and determined that there is a lack of effective anti-terrorism measures in Iranian ports,” Ms. Santiago said, adding that Iran already had been receiving “additional scrutinydue to its designation as a state sponsor of terrorism.”

Effective anti-terrorism measures encouraged by the Coast Guard include cargo screening, on-site security management and restricted access to vessels, cargo and dockside property, Ms. Santiago said.

“Vessels will be boarded offshore and examined to determine if they took the required measures while in the ports that were found to not be maintaining effective anti-terrorism measures,” Ms. Santiago said.

Meanwhile, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Thursday that the U.S. has put Tehran on notice that “the international community will not allow the Iranian government to misuse the international financial system or global transportation network to further its aspirations to obtain nuclear weapons capability, improve its missile systems, or support international terrorism.”

The United States has imposed targeted financial measures against Bahrain-based Future Bank, which is controlled by Iran-based Bank Melli, and made available information on Iran’s financial institutions to foreign governments and banks, Mr. McCormack said.

“Additionally, vessels that have recently visited Iran will be scrutinized when arriving in U.S. ports because Iran has not maintained effective anti-terrorism measures in its ports,” Mr. McCormack said.

According to U.N. Resolution 1803, adopted March 3, members must exercise vigilance over the activities their countries’ financial institutions have with Iranian banks and their foreign subsidiaries to avoid contributing to Iran’s development of nuclear weapons and delivery systems.

The new security restrictions on vessels entering U.S. waters were determined under the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002, which authorizes the secretary of Homeland Security to examine whether a foreign port poses a high risk of introducing terrorism to international maritime commerce.

Vessels will be targeted for increased boardings when arriving in U.S. ports if they have visited one of the countries in the port security advisory list during their last five port calls. In 2007, a total of 98 ships arriving in the U.S. listed Iran as a last port of call. They included 44 tank ships and 31 bulk carriers.

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