US, UK work on anti-terror R&D

Government officials from the United States and United Kingdom have agreed on greater collaboration in technology research and development, among other things, that would help protect both countries from terrorist attacks.

James Loy, the Homeland Security Department's deputy secretary, and U.K. Home Secretary David Blunkett announced Dec. 8 the signing of the Science and Technology Agreement, which outlines:

Homeland and civil security information exchange and associated exchanges among scientists, engineers and other experts.

Development of threat and vulnerability assessments for critical infrastructures and strategies to safeguard automated process control at-risk systems. Exchange of commercially adaptable best practices, standards and guidelines.

Development, testing and evaluation of homeland and civil security technologies.

Use of each country's respective research, development, testing and evaluation capacities.

In a speech at London's Royal United Services Institute, Loy said the collaboration so far "has provided the opportunity to develop programs and technologies that work together, such as the integration of our Homeland Security Information Network and the developments of an international standard for biometrics."

The new agreement, he said, will enhance the partnership started by the U.S./U.K. Joint Contact Group on Homeland Security, a working group that coordinates homeland security efforts in both countries.

In printed remarks provided by DHS, Loy said the group has helped ease the way for collaboration for the Container Security Initiative, which allows DHS officials to inspect cargo at 32 international ports. In his remarks, he cited development and use of large-scale gamma ray and X-ray systems and the need for international standards, electronic seals and tracking devices for cargo, among other technologies in port security.

"I have found a cascading notion to the work between the United States and Great Britain," he said. "What begins as an idea between our nations often ends up in the policies of the G-8, the European Union, the [Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe] and, eventually, spreads around the globe."

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