Associated Group


Nuclear Detection in Ports: Lessons from the Movie True Lies

Nuclear Detection in Ports: Lessons from the Movie True Lies


Nuclear and radiological detection in ports is an issue of growing concern.

At least, it should be.

Actually, its been kind of ignored until lately, but it is an important issue. Without proper scanning systems and information sharing protocols, our ports, and our country, are wide open for someone to bring in nuclear material, chemical weapons or the new Justin Bieber album.

Nuclear attack. Dirty bombs. Radiological attack… this is kind of a serious topic. To dial it back a bit, I thought we’d see what lessons we can learn from the movie True Lies, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie-Lee Curtis.

The person you’re married to may be a spy. Or a terrorist. Or something.

Not that I’m suggesting necessarily that your spouse is a spy, or a terrorist, or something, but how well do you really know him or her? Are you sure they aren’t planning a nuclear/radiological attack? Have you asked them?

The truth is that in a free society where we don’t monitor every aspect of people’s lives, almost anyone could potentially be a threat. Likewise almost every ship traveling to our country could carry a dangerous substance.

  Does your terrorist spouse hate dogs? Or our society?

Terrorists can appear to be normal people and yet secretly hate our freedoms and our dogs. While we can’t monitor everything everyone in the country is doing, we can and should monitor every ship coming into our ports, especially with the growth of mega-ships and short sea shipping.


Appearances can be deceiving.

Although someone may appear to be a mild mannered car salesman, they may actually be a secret agent, who is actually hitting on our spouse. You get the idea. We can’t afford to take anyone at face value. The global supply chain is so interconnected, that even a ship we have every reason to believe is friendly could be carrying lethal cargo.

  Once a lethal device enters the country, it’s a lot harder to stop them.

Almost everything entering our country does so on a ship. Ports are the major line of defense against nuclear, chemical and biological attack and it is worth our best effort to present the best defense we can. We can’t just expect Arnold to save us.

But radiological detection technology doesn’t just detect nuclear material. It will also uncover chemical weapons, drugs and other contraband, human smuggling operations… basically everything that we’d prefer to keep out of the country.

After reading this post, you’ll be happy to hear that we’ve assembled a group of people who can speak intelligently about nuclear detection in ports and they’ll be presenting at the Port Security Operations Conference PSOCE Tampa, March 29-31. In a series of integrated sessions, they’ll provide a comprehensive overview of domestic and international radiological and nuclear detection programs in seaports, how they have evolved and the important changes that are coming.

Click here for more information and we hope to see you there.

And keep an eye on that spouse of yours.