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Remarks to the Proliferation Security Initiative Operational Experts Working Group Meeting
Remarks by James Wright, Assistant Deputy Minister, Global and Security Policy
Ottawa, Canada, April 16, 2004

Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished colleagues,

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Thank you, Drew, for your introduction and for providing me with the opportunity to welcome PSI operational experts to Foreign Affairs Canada and to say a few words. I’d like to congratulate you and your inter-departmental team for all the work you have put into making this meeting happen.

On behalf of the Canadian Government, I look forward to the contributions from everyone here this weekend.

Canada is pleased to be hosting this sixth PSI Operational Experts Working Group (OEWG) meeting and I am particularly proud of the partnership among Canadian departments that has defined Canada’s participation in the PSI since the start.

On the PSI operational side, it starts with Drew Robertson and his multi-disciplinary team at National Defence Headquarters.

Here at Foreign Affairs, our non-proliferation and disarmament experts and our legal experts have added their strong support to this process. Canada’s Security and Intelligence Service has also made a significant contribution and I look forward to their presentation later this morning.

We have also benefited from the input of our domestic enforcement colleagues from Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, the Canadian Border Services Agency and legal experts from some 20 departments and agencies.

The contribution and efforts that all participants will make over the next two days - efforts to move the PSI forward - comes at a vital time.

Non-proliferation is an essential building block for international security. This building block, however, is now under pressure. Despite enormous achievements over the years in developing rules and institutions to ban weapons of mass destruction and to prevent proliferation, these weapons still threaten our security.

Despite near universal commitments to non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament, some countries have reneged on promises not to develop, acquire or transfer WMD.

Last month, Canada’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bill Graham, spoke to the Conference on Disarmament and reminded states why the international environment urgently demands our creativity and commitment.

He noted that for the first time in 35 years, a State has renounced the Non-Proliferation Treaty. North Korea’s actions are a threat to both its immediate neighbours and the international community at large; our collective response must be unequivocal and direct lest the wrong lessons be drawn by other proliferators.

In Lisbon, we heard a presentation on the AQ Khan network and have learned staggering information about the role Pakistan and North Korea in particular have played in supplying other countries with the means to develop WMD. Iran and Libya have both recently been found to have more advanced nuclear activities than anyone thought. We still have much to do to roll back this proliferation.

For Canada, the PSI is a powerful response to the commitment that this group - and many supporters within the international community - have made to address the proliferation challenge.

Other responses go hand in hand with our support for the Statement of Principles that underpin the PSI.

A huge effort is now underway to decommission and dispose safely of Russian nuclear and chemical weapons stockpiles through the Global Partnership Program that was developed at the Kananaskis Summit in 2002. Significant funds have been set aside for this work over the next ten years. Canada has committed up to 1 billion dollars. We are actively engaged on the ground in Russia in dealing with this Cold War legacy that must not be allowed to fall into the wrong hands.

New and important work in support of non-proliferation is being promoted through the G8 process in advance of the this year’s Sea Island Summit. The Global Partnership Program has new partners and is developing ideas to expand its reach in support of disarmament and non-proliferation.

We are studying better ways to coordinate our response to potential bio-terrorism threats. Some important work has been put forward by Canada and others to suggest how the international community could reduce the risks of nuclear proliferation further through increased attention to the nuclear fuel cycle, in particular enrichment and reprocessing technologies.

The IAEA is another indispensable mechanism in our collective non-proliferation toolbox. We continue to successfully promote effective IAEA action to address states’ non-compliance with their safeguards obligations. In this regard, universalization of the Additional Protocol would be an important step in the right direction.

All participants around this table have also done much to promote and strengthen the international export control regimes and export safety, to ensure that exports in this highly technological era do not contribute to WMD proliferation. The fact, however, that determined proliferators are able to circumvent export and import controls and their treaty obligations highlights the extent to which it is urgent that we also work to reinforce compliance and verification mechanisms.

It is not all bad news. Today, fewer states possess medium and long-range missiles that can deliver WMD than was the case 15 years ago. The International Code of Conduct against missile proliferation, the Safety and Security of Radiological Sources and the amendment of the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear material all contribute to facing down the risks posed by WMD proliferation .

Efforts now underway in the International Maritime Organization and in the UN Security Council to address gaps in the non-proliferation regime are also important responses to the proliferation challenge. We all hope that under Germany’s presidency, the Security Council will work to adopt an effective resolution that will give important legitimacy to the PSI.

There are other, more sobering realities, however. In the wake of increased regional warfare and terrorist activity, it is essential to keep WMD out of the hands of states and terrorist groups that would have little inhibition against using them. And the PSI has already made its mark. Libya’s decision to abandon its longstanding and sophisticated WMD program sends a powerful signal to others.

The PSI is important because it demonstrates to proliferators and to any state or non-state actor that supports proliferation activities that the international community is prepared and ready to act to deter and stop trafficking in WMD.

During this meeting, PSI experts will continue important work in studying both national and international law that provide the appropriate authority to support this initiative. The work you do here can make an enormous contribution to work also underway in other multilateral fora.

One area that will also need your attention during this meeting is outreach. How can outreach be operationalized so that it becomes an effective tool to not only educate domestic and international audiences, but to build even wider support for the PSI? We recognize that much work is still needed to explain the importance of the PSI and to promote its Principles, both at home and abroad. We also face an institutional challenge: how do we acknowledge those states - now more than 60 - that support the PSI and who can and want to contribute? The Canadian team will be presenting a few ideas in this regard tomorrow and we look forward to your comments.

I should also indicate that in the weeks to come the Canadian Government is expected to release the outline of a new national security policy. This paper will identify the important steps the Government has taken to respond to the increasingly complex and dangerous threat environment nationally and internationally. PSI features prominently in that storyline.

I congratulate Poland for the huge task it has already begun in planning and preparing for the first global PSI meeting in Krakov in early June, another significant outreach activity. Canada looks forward to participating at that anniversary meeting and participating with a growing list of countries that support the work of the PSI.

Thank you.