Cablegate: Megaports Initiative: Doe Seeks Germany's Participation

DE RUEHAG #0003/01 0131655
R 131655Z JAN 10




E.O. 12958: N/A

HAMBURG 00000003 001.3 OF 003

1. (U) SUMMARY: A DoE team visited Germany December 8-11 to
promote the inclusion of the ports of Bremerhaven and Hamburg in
their Megaports Initiative. The Initiative aims at providing
equipment, training, and technical support to international
partners to enhance their ability to deter, detect, and
interdict illicit trafficking of special nuclear and other
radioactive materials in the global maritime system. Currently,
28 ports worldwide and 7 in Europe are operational Megaports.
The DoE team provided comprehensive presentations on the
Initiative (including German translations of presentations and a
draft Memorandum of Understanding), and held in-depth
discussions with German governmental and port officials, as well
as with commercial terminal operators. The team also provided
background material on radiation portal monitors (RPM) and
handheld detection technology. Local interlocutors questioned
the connection between the Megaports Initiative, Container
Security Initiative (CSI), and Secure Freight Initiative (SFI)
and expressed concerns about the impact of the Initiative on
port operations and staffing, management of transshipments and
data protection. The federal ministries will convene at the end
of January to evaluate the DoE visit and provide an initial
response to the USG's request for Germany to participate in the
Megaports Initiative. END SUMMARY.

--------------------------------------------- --------------
Broad Participation, Risk (Un-) Awareness, Concerns De-Mystified
--------------------------------------------- --------------

2 (SBU) From December 8-11, two representatives from the
Department of Energy (DoE) visited Germany in order to encourage
the ports of Bremerhaven (for the second time) and Hamburg (in
an initial visit) to join the Megaports Initiative, through
which the DoE provides equipment for scanning shipping
containers for radiation risks. DoE had previously raised the
issue in a 2005 visit to Bremerhaven. DoE encouraged broad
participation in the briefings and turnout was impressive.
DoE's first meeting was held in Bonn and was attended by twelve
individuals representing the relevant stakeholders on the
federal level: the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of
Transportation, Construction and Urban Development, Ministry of
Economics and Ministry of Interior. In Bremerhaven and Hamburg,
harbor authorities, customs officials, harbor police, and
representatives from the Interior and Economics ministries
attended the briefings and site tours. Private businesses and
associations were also represented, including terminal operators
(Eurogate, HHLA, NTB, MSC Gate), the Company Association Port of
Hamburg, the Bremerhaven port development organization and the
Central Association of German Seaport Companies.

3. (SBU) Not all German government agencies perceived a threat
derived from the potential proliferation of radioactive
materials. Officials from the Federal Ministry of
Transportation and from one port authority remarked on the
margins that, "it is very unlikely that terrorists would try to
traffic a radioactive device or nuclear material via a
container." By contrast, representatives of the Federal Finance
Ministry and Federal Interior Ministry pointed out that the
threat to the shipping industry of illicit nuclear and
radiological shipment is real and stressed that that they take
it very seriously. The representative of the Bremen Ministry of
Economics and Ports was most blunt, stating: "We don't want
terrorism and dirty bombs... This meeting is meant to see
whether there are ways that we can cooperate." She also
reiterated the philosophy at the Port of Bremerhaven that only a
secure and efficient port is a competitive port. Even if the
interagency process does not result in a unified position there
is a chance that the ports, particularly the Port of
Bremerhaven, might unilaterally join the Megaports Initiative.
In fact, the Hamburg economics ministry representative said on
the margins: "Given Bremerhaven's reliance on trade with the
U.S., it will not be possible to hold them back. They would go
ahead on their own."

4. (SBU) The DoE team successfully corrected a number of
misperceptions about the Megaports Initiative. One
representative from the Federal Finance Ministry for example was
concerned about "huge monitors" and buildings which would

HAMBURG 00000003 002.3 OF 003

present a problem to the ports as a result of space
limitations. DoE pointed out the relative modest size of RPMs
by showing pictures of the technical equipment and encouraged
visits to nearby Megaports facilities, including those in
Rotterdam. Another concern focused on the radiation detection
equipment employed, with the assumption that the USG would force
its own equipment on partner nations under a "Buy American"
proposition. A Ministry of Economics representative was visibly
relieved when told that the U.S. would not impose its own
technology; he later requested a list of German companies that
meet Megaports Initiative standards. There was widespread fear
among interlocutors that truck drivers or other persons in the
vicinity of RPMs could be exposed to radiation. Reassurances
that DoE's Megaports Initiative equipment is completely passive
and does not emit any radiation were received with surprise and
relief. Contacts were similarly pleased to hear that the
Initiative does not envision scanning 100 percent of all

5. (SBU) Several representatives voiced frustration about the
many disparate USG initiatives designed to secure shipping.
While underscoring that there is unfortunately no silver bullet
to protect shipping, the DoE team seemingly managed to clarify
the distinct objective of the Megaports Initiative and its
interface with CSI and SFI (about which Germans have strong
reservations). However, DoE's statement that participation in
the Megaports Initiative is already half of the equation to meet
SFI's looming 100 scanning requirement might prove very
effective. The same holds true for DoE's mentioning that ports
vetted through the Megaports Initiative will enjoy privileged,
and thus quicker, handling at U.S. ports.

--------------------------------------------- --------------
Challenges Remain: Transshipments, Data Protection, Ownership
--------------------------------------------- --------------

6. (SBU) Terminal operators noted the large number of
transshipments at the port of Bremerhaven (e.g. 50-60 percent of
traffic at Eurogate, MSC Gate, NTB is transshipment) and
wondered how these containers could be included in the Megaports
Initiative. The DoE team conceded that covering transshipments
is challenging. However, they referred to a pilot project at
Freeport in the Bahamas, where 99 percent of the transshipments
are scanned using a special straddle carrier. The
representative from MSC Gate noted that Freeport's transshipment
volume is minimal compared to Bremerhaven's and Hamburg's, but
offered to investigate Freeport's experience with this straddle
carrier. DoE also stressed that cutting-edge straddle carrier
technology was pursued vigorously, which prompted one
representative to interject that operations at HHLA's terminal
are fully automated and do not rely on straddle carriers but,
rather, automatically guided vehicles.

7. (SBU) The handling of RPM-generated data was a consistent
point of concern. The suspicion that sensitive data could
somehow be collected and used by the USG for economic espionage
was palpable at every meeting. The DoE team pointed out that it
is the responsibility of each host country to collect data, and
determine which data will be shared with the USG. They
reiterated that the USG expects to receive data only in
instances where there is a positive identification of a
radioactive shipment. The team stressed that the vast majority
of data is innocuous and that proprietary information is not
gathered. This resonated with some, but certainly not all,
interlocutors. A representative of the Federal Ministry of
Transportation for example stated on the margins: "We are told
that data sharing is subject to separate agreements. However,
we all know that if the U.S. wants some information it is going
to get it. This is clearly going to happen -- at the latest,
when the SFI is in place."

8. (SBU) The question of who has lead responsibility within
the German government on the Megaports Initiative must be
answered before Germany can commit to its participation. Should
there be a German decision in favor of the Megaports Initiative,
the Customs Department would most probably be tasked with
implementing it. Meanwhile, a Federal Finance Ministry official

HAMBURG 00000003 003.3 OF 003

stressed: "I guess we are responsible, whether we like it or
not." One state interlocutor indicated that custom's reluctance
might be due to financial and personnel stresses.

9. (SBU) COMMENT: Germany has been aware of the Megaports
Initiative for seven years. To date, no German ports are
participating in the program. German officials repeated many of
the concerns raised during DoE's previous Megaports delegation
visit to Bremerhaven in 2005. DoE representatives responded to
these concerns by citing the experiences gained managing
Megaports implementation at many other major seaports in the
intervening years. (Note: In 2005 there was just one
operational port in the EU; at the end of 2009 there were seven
in Europe, and 28 worldwide. End Note.) In addition, DoE's
inclusive approach (simultaneous outreach to all stakeholders on
state and federal level) and its ability to meaningfully address
even the most difficult questions was well-received by the
Germans. Ideally, the interagency meeting at the end of January
2010 will indicate which position the Germans will take.
Germany may possibly reach an interagency agreement this month
on the issue of Megaports participation. This decision will,
however, not mean an end to skirmishes over (potential)
ownership of the initiative, and debates on staffing, data
protection and financing. The factors in favor of a positive
decision include competitive pressures (the ports in Rotterdam
and Antwerp are rivals of both German ports), and the perception
that the Megaports Initiative might ease Bremen's and Hamburg's
transition to SFI's 100 percent scanning requirement. The main
factors complicating a decision in favor of the Megaports
Initiative are bureaucratic (unresolved competency issues),
technological (high percentage of transshipments which cannot be
covered with today's radiation technology) and psychological
(widespread suspicions that data privacy could be compromised).

10. (U) This message has been coordinated with Embassy Berlin.

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


IPPPR: The Independent Panel Calls For Urgent Reform Of Pandemic Prevention And Response Systems

Expert independent panel calls for urgent reform of pandemic prevention and response systems The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response is today calling on the global community to end the COVID-19 pandemic and adopt a series of bold and ... More>>

NGO Coalition On Human Rights: Call For A Stop To Police Brutality In Fiji

A viral video has circulated online showing two police officers utilising disproportionate and excessive force in detaining the suspect, an individual half their size. In the video it shows the man’s head being pressed down on the ground, his arms being ... More>>

UN: India’s New COVID-19 Wave Is Spreading Like ‘Wildfire’, Warns UN Children’s Fund

7 May 2021 A new wave of COVID-19 infections is spreading like “wildfire” across India, leaving many youngsters destitute, the UN Children’s Fund UNICEF said on Friday. In the last 24 hours, India registered 3,915 coronavirus deaths and 414,188 ... More>>

Focus On: UN SDGs

UN: Economic Recovery Under Threat Amid Surging COVID Cases And Lagging Vaccination In Poorer Countries

New York, 11 May — While the global growth outlook has improved, led by robust rebound in China and the United States, surging COVID-19 infections and inadequate vaccination progress in many countries threaten a broad-based recovery of the world ... More>>

Study: Cut Methane Emissions To Avert Global Temperature Rise

6 May 2021 Methane emissions caused by human activity can be reduced by up to 45 per cent this decade, thus helping to keep global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change, according to a UN-backed ... More>>

UN: Learning From COVID-19, Forum To Highlight Critical Role Of Science, Technology And Innovation In Global Challenges

New York, 4 May —To build on the bold innovations in science, technology and innovations that produced life-saving solutions during the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN will bring together experts to highlight measures that can broaden the development and deployment ... More>>