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The Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI)
Susan F. Burk, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Nonproliferation
Remarks at the Global Transshipment Control Enforcement Workshop
Valletta, Malta
May 11, 2004

Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished Participants,

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I am honored to have this opportunity to speak to you today to address the Proliferation Security Initiative or PSI.

As I indicated in my remarks to you earlier this morning, President Bush has been clear that the greatest threat to peace today is the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons -- and the possibility that regimes that acquire these weapons may use them as tools of coercion, intimidation, blackmail and even actual attack or may provide them to terrorists to do the same. Our determination to address this threat will be essential to creating the peace and security we all desire for future generations.

In facing the nonproliferation challenges that confront us around the world, our efforts must be global, flexible and forward-looking. They must rely on synergies among a wide range of tools to respond effectively to an evolving threat. These tools range from strong diplomacy, the development of new partnerships, international treaties and regimes, multilateral export control regimes, arms control efforts, and export control and border security cooperative programs.

All these tools play an important role and export controls, the subject of this workshop, are one of the pillars of our international efforts to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). While effective, comprehensive export controls and all the other tools I mentioned are absolutely necessary, they have proven insufficient by themselves to address the full scope of the problem.

We must seek innovative approaches to prevent proliferation, and be prepared to act together with other countries if prevention fails to stop dangerous transfers.

This is why President Bush announced the Proliferation Security Initiative in Krakow, Poland on May 31, 2003. The PSI, an outgrowth of the U.S. National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction, anticipates that export controls will not always function perfectly despite our best efforts, and it anticipates that dangerous items prohibited by the nonproliferation regime will be shipped to or from states and non-state actors of proliferation concern. Facing this reality, the United States and its PSI partners are prepared to act, consistent with national and international laws and frameworks, to stem the proliferation of WMD, their means of delivery and related items.

The United States believes that, properly planned and executed, the interdiction of critical technologies and materials while in transit can prevent hostile states and non-state actors from acquiring these dangerous capabilities. At a minimum, interdiction, when combined with effective export controls, can lengthen the time that proliferators will need to acquire new weapons capabilities, can increase the cost of proliferation, and it is also an important demonstration of the resolve of like-minded nations to combat proliferation. Strong efforts can dissuade and discourage would-be proliferators from dealing in the trade of these dangerous goods.

Interdiction is not a new response to the proliferation challenge. Many of the states involved in this conference have first-hand experience addressing proliferation-related items in transit. But, interdiction efforts, however, have tended to be ad hoc and often focus on items before they have left cargo holds in airports, seaports or warehouses. With proliferation much more of a security challenge, we all must undertake more concerted efforts to address WMD-related shipments not only before, but after they leave for their destination. Sophisticated and aggressive techniques increasingly are being used by proliferators to circumvent export controls and to use brokers or middlemen to receive and re-export items to their final destination. All these efforts are undertaken to avoid detection. We must be equally creative and adept in our efforts to deter such trade -- not only by strengthening national export control systems, but also by cooperating on interdiction efforts.

PSI -- How It Developed

The eleven original PSI participants worked for three months, beginning in Madrid, Spain in June, to develop a strong political statement reaffirming the need for more robust efforts to stop the flow of WMD on air, land and sea. The culmination of this work was the PSI "Statement of Interdiction Principles" that was agreed to in Paris on September 4. This Statement of Principles identified specific steps that will be needed for effective interdiction. In working to develop these Interdiction Principles, we and our partners made clear that PSI efforts would be taken consistent with national legal authorities and relevant international law and frameworks.

While agreement on the Statement of Interdiction Principles marked a milestone, the real work of the PSI has come since September, and continues today. To develop the initiative and its capabilities, participants quickly established and began to implement a rigorous schedule of interdiction training exercises. These exercises involve air, land, and sea scenarios and support efforts to enhance multilateral, coordinated capabilities for interdiction. Nine interdiction training exercises have been completed since last September when the Australians began the series. At the operational experts meeting held in Ottawa, Canada last month, a robust and systematic exercise schedule was developed for the remainder of 2004 and all of 2005 which will continue to test the capabilities of PSI partners and involve new participants in these training exercises. As each exercise occurs and participants share the lessons learned, the scenarios become more realistic and more complex, helping PSI participants improve their expertise to carry out real interdiction operations.

National Legal Authorities

I want to highlight the PSI's focus on exchanging information on national legal authorities and developing a clear understanding of each nation's current capabilities to deter and stop the flow of weapons of mass destruction to, from, and between countries and non-state actors of proliferation concern. Through this process, the PSI is creating a global web of counterproliferation partnerships and by using our national authorities in a coordinated fashion -- as called for by the PSI -- we can make the whole stronger than the sum of its parts. I want to emphasize the focus that the PSI actions are consistent with international law and frameworks. Early on, there were misconceptions on this point. Proliferators and their enablers are on notice that they will have fewer and fewer places to ply their trade without being vulnerable to the lawful activities of those of us committed to stopping them. And this is a key aspect of the PSI.

Expanding PSI Cooperation

More recently, in a speech he gave at the National Defense University on September 11, President Bush emphasized that PSI cooperation must not just address shipments of WMD, but should also include efforts to shut down proliferation networks and bring to full justice those involved in facilitating this deadly trade. We are seeking enhanced cooperation of PSI participants through information sharing and among military and law enforcement agencies to identify where the proliferation facilitators are operating and to develop plans of action to shut them down. The PSI Statement of Interdiction Principles envisions this cooperation in calling for the development of effective national legal authorities to prevent proliferation.

To meet both its goals -- effective interdiction of WMD-related shipments and cooperation to shut down proliferation facilitators -- the PSI is intended to be fast-moving, novel and flexible. It builds on our collective experiences and uses the full range of counterproliferation tools as I mentioned earlier from diplomatic, to intelligence, to operational -- to achieve results.

PSI cooperation is expanding as well in terms of the number of countries that are becoming involved in building the initiative. While we initially worked to develop the PSI with a small number of states, President Bush has repeatedly made clear that the PSI will include those countries, willing and able to cooperate effectively in interdiction efforts. We are pleased that many countries represented here are among the more than 60 states that have already indicated their support for the PSI. We welcome those expressions of support and the interest in cooperating actively on interdiction efforts.

As the PSI has evolved, it has become apparent that certain states have important capabilities and contributions to offer the initiative. The United States believes that many countries with strong nonproliferation credentials can play a helpful role working to counter the proliferation of WMD and missile capabilities. For example, we and other PSI partners are working to negotiate ship-boarding agreements with some of the key flag states around the world. Transshipment states -- including all those represented here today -- are among those countries whose participation in the PSI is viewed as essential because of their unique geographic characteristics and importance to the global shipping industry.

States are becoming involved in the PSI in many different ways. Some countries have participated in information meetings coordinated for Asia, Europe, and Africa. Other countries have been involved in interdiction training exercises. Involvement in the PSI is voluntary -- individual states determine how their current capabilities match with the PSI and its Statement of Interdiction Principles and they determine the extent to which they are able to cooperate in any given PSI action or operation that might arise.

For those states represented here that have not officially endorsed the PSI and the Statement of Interdiction Principles -- we would welcome your doing so and your support of PSI efforts. We stand ready to provide additional information to explain the initiative so that you can decide how best you might be involved. There are a number of practical steps that can be taken to establish the basis for coordination with, and participation in, PSI efforts and we look forward to working with your governments toward this end.

We are very pleased that the United Nations Security Council unanimously approved UN Security Council Resolution 1540 requiring states to develop, among other things, domestic laws to control the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. This is an important step to establish high standards for the control of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and their delivery systems. Resolution 1540 also calls on states to take cooperative action to stop, impede, intercept and otherwise prevent the illicit trafficking ion these weapons, related materials and their means of delivery. We believe the PSI is a valuable initiative in this regard and we hope states will heed the call of the Security Council to work with states bilaterally, regionally, and internationally to stop the flow of these dangerous materials.


The PSI is a lasting initiative that establishes a more deliberate and coordinated basis to effectively halt the proliferation of these dangerous weapons and delivery systems. We want to make it harder and more costly for proliferators to engage in this deadly commerce, and your efforts will be a key part of making this goal a reality. We believe that the PSI is already having a deterrent effect on proliferation as evidenced by the interdiction of the ship, BBC CHINA, that was an element in Libya's decision to abandon its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. Proliferators, shipping companies, insurers, and others involved in supporting these activities know that there is a growing group of nations determined to work together to take all possible steps to stop this activity.

I am convinced that the global scope of PSI, with its growing number of participants, will continue to stem the trade in WMD, their delivery systems, and related materials. Your contributions to this effort are greatly appreciated by all nations interested in a safer more secure world.