June 28 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday announced new security measures for all flights into the United States -- including greater examinations for carry-on electronic devices.
Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly said the department decided on "enhanced" measures after taking into account "evaluated intelligence."
"Our nation is being targeted daily by terrorists, criminals, hackers, nation states, and more," he said in a statement. "We have continued to be confronted by threats to passenger aircraft. This isn't a new issue. But the threat has evolved."
Included in the strengthened security measures, which affect all foreign flights that enter the United States, is "heightened screening of personal electronic devices" like laptop computers and tablets -- an issue that has been evaluated at DHS and the Transportation Security Administration for months.
"In March I made the decision to ban electronic devices larger than a cell phone from the passenger cabins of U.S.-bound commercial flights from ten airports in the Middle East and North Africa," Kelly continued. "I've met with our international partners. I've met with our industry leaders. I've met with other private sector stakeholders. My conclusion is this: it is time to raise the global baseline of aviation security."
The increased security for carry-on electronics, however, does not include an expansion of the laptop ban to include any additional airports. After Kelly's announcement in March, officials debated whether to impose a similar ban on flights from other nations, particularly in Western Europe.
Larger electronic devices can be carried onto domestic flights, but they cannot be carried into the passenger cabin on direct routes to the United States from 10 airports in eight countries believed by U.S. officials to pose a greater security threat -- Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Kuwait and Turkey. Nonstop U.S. flights from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen -- other nations firmly within the "threat picture" -- do not exist.
An expansion of the laptop ban could still be implemented at some point in the future, however.
The added security also includes enhanced overall passenger screening, increased security in and around passenger terminals, and deployment of advanced screening technologies. The latter includes establishing what DHS called "additional preclearance locations."
The new measures affect flights from more than 100 countries, 280 airports and 180 airlines -- and will impact more than 2,000 flights and 325,000 passengers daily.
"We cannot play international whack-a-mole with each new threat. Instead, we must put in place new measures across the board to keep the traveling public safe and make it harder for terrorists to succeed," Kelly said.
DHS said the measures will be fully implemented over the next several weeks.