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Rice says Proliferation Security Initiative is yielding results

International PSI leaders observe initiative's second anniversary

Posted: June 1, 2005
VOA Audio
> PSI at Two Years: Counter-Proliferation Practice Makes Perfect  
  (U.S., Uruguay, and more than 60 other nations participate in the PSI)  


Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speaks at event marking the second anniversary of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) at the State Department in Washington, Tuesday, May 31, with the Singapore Ambassador Heng Chee Chan and Danish Ambassador Ulrik Andreas Federspiel looking on. The PSI is an informal U.S.-led alliance aimed at curbing the trafficking of weapons of mass destruction. (State Dept. photo - Janine Sides)
Washington –- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) is yielding results, and points to 11 examples of successful efforts conducted in the past nine months by the United States and 10 other PSI partners.

In May 31 remarks observing the PSI's second anniversary, Rice said cooperation through this initiative has halted the transshipment of material and equipment bound for ballistic missile programs in nations of concern, including Iran. PSI partners, working at times with others, have prevented Iran from acquiring what it needs to support its ballistic missile and nuclear programs, she said.

“Bilateral PSI cooperation prevented the ballistic missile program in another region from receiving equipment used to produce propellant,” she added, without identifying the nation.

The dangerous trade in weapons of mass destruction (WMD) “can only be stopped through coordinated and continuous efforts by the international community,” Rice told an audience of foreign ambassadors, military attaches and members of Congress. With over 60 nations already supporting PSI, the secretary said that the more countries that are actively involved “the safer people everywhere will be.” PSI is helping build a common capacity, she said, “to act with speed and effectiveness” to stop WMD trafficking on land, sea and air.

If a terrorist were to acquire and use a nuclear, chemical or biological weapon it would cause “mass terror and devastation on a scale far worse” than that caused by the combined attacks of September 11 [2001], Beslan, Madrid, Bali and others, she said. Those participating in the PSI are working daily “to ensure that such a catastrophe never occurs in our international community,” Rice said.

While pursuing quiet cooperation, PSI partners have succeeded in making “it increasingly difficult and costly for proliferators to ply their nefarious trade,” the secretary said. PSI participation deepens the level of diplomatic, intelligence, law enforcement and private sector cooperation, she said, adding, “Under PSI, customs and law enforcement officials are applying laws already on the books in innovative ways, and cooperating as never before to disrupt proliferation networks and to hold accountable the front companies that support them.”

Cooperative PSI efforts also include denying proliferators the financing they need to trade in weapons of mass destruction (WMD), Rice said, as well as pursuing ongoing work to strengthen anti-WMD trafficking laws at national and international levels.

She urged those nations who have yet to embrace PSI to join the crucial effort to halt the trafficking of WMD, delivery systems and related material to and from countries and other groups of proliferation concern -- which she said pose “a deadly threat.”

While calling for further expansion of the initiative, Rice also welcomed three new countries that have most recently endorsed the PSI Statement of Interdiction Principles: Argentina, Iraq and Georgia.

Rice's call for PSI expansion came just as a PSI interdiction exercise begins in Central Europe. The Czech Republic and Poland are conducting “Bohemian Guard 2005” to intercept a simulated illegal rail shipment of chemical weapons-related materials as it passes from Poland through the Czech Republic and on into a third nation. The exercise, scheduled to run through June 2, will include participation by Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Latvia, Ukraine, Romania, Slovakia and the United States.

The ambassadors of PSI partners Singapore, Denmark and Japan joined Secretary Rice in delivering remarks at the anniversary event.

Singapore Ambassador Heng Chee Chan said her country sees the importance of PSI because it would not be a far-fetched scenario for the small city-state to be attacked with WMD, causing an enormous catastrophe. Participating in PSI exercises, as Singapore has, ensures that standard operating procedures are established and work in time of need, she said.

Singapore will host a multinational maritime exercise August 15-19 called “Deep Sabre ‘05.” The Singaporean ambassador invited countries that have yet to sign on to PSI to come and observe the exercise so that any conceivable concerns that might exist about participating in the future will be allayed.

Danish Ambassador Ulrik Andreas Federspiel said PSI began being successful shortly after it was launched because it provided “a significant and instant deterrent effect.” Denmark will host the next PSI Operational Experts Group meeting in Copenhagen in July. Because PSI has no institutional framework and relies on the voluntary participation of likeminded nations, Federspiel said it is a high priority for his country to help facilitate “the continued conceptual development” of PSI activities. In his call for greater PSI participation the ambassador said a larger group of PSI partners “will mean an even more effective common international effort to crack down on the proliferation of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials.”

Japanese Ambassador Ryozo Kato said PSI has created “a spirit of cooperation around the world” and it sends a strong signal that the spread of WMD will not be tolerated. As PSI enters its third year of existence, Kato expressed his hope that the initiative will become “even more fruitful.”

PSI depends upon intelligence sharing to succeed. New National Intelligence Director John Negroponte addressed this subject at the PSI event hosted by the State Department. Through the initiative, he said, intelligence “can be coupled to governmental actions in whatever way is judged to be maximally effective by the responsible authorities.” WMD proliferation, which he described as the gravest threat to the international community, has to be monitored, probed and guarded against “with maximum rigor and care," he said.

President Bush issued a statement about PSI May 31 in which he said: “Through training exercises involving military, law enforcement, customs, intelligence, and legal experts, many PSI partners are developing new tools to improve their national and collective capacities to interdict WMD and related shipments –- whether on land, at sea or in the air.”

On this foundation, the president added, “PSI partners are building a record of success by stopping the transshipment of WMD-related materials, prosecuting proliferation networks and shutting down front companies.”

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Richard Lugar also highlighted the initiative by submitting a concurrent House and Senate resolution commending PSI participants for their “historic efforts and the successes of the Proliferation Security Initiative in reducing the threat posed” by illicit WMD trafficking.

The resolution calls on all responsible nations to endorse the PSI Statement of Interdiction Principles and to “cooperate actively to interdict and disrupt illicit trade” in WMD, WMD delivery systems and related materials.

The transcript of Rice's remarks is available on the State Department’s Web site.

For more information about counterproliferation, see Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.

Jacquelyn S. Porth
Washington File Security Affairs Writer

 

 

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