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Keywords:

  • port security;
  • nuclear materials;
  • container shipping;
  • inspection policies

Abstract

Strengthening the United States' ability to prevent adversaries from smuggling nuclear materials into the country is a vital and ongoing issue. The prospect of additional countries, such as Iran, obtaining the know-how and equipment to produce these special nuclear materials in the near future underscores the need for efficient and effective inspection policies at ports and border crossings. In addition, the reduction of defense and homeland security budgets in recent years has made it increasingly important to accomplish the interdiction mission with fewer funds. Addressing these complications, in this article, we present a novel two-port interdiction model. We propose using prior inspection data as a low-cost way of increasing overall interdiction performance. We provide insights into two primary questions: first, how should a decision maker at a domestic port use detection data from the foreign port to improve the overall detection capability? Second, what are potential limitations to the usefulness of prior inspection data—is it possible that using prior data actually harms decision making at the domestic port? We find that a boundary curve policy (BCP) that takes into account both foreign and domestic inspection data can provide a significant improvement in detection probability. This BCP also proves to be surprisingly robust, even if adversaries are able to infiltrate shipments during transit. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Naval Research Logistics 60: 433-448, 2013