Ramping Up Momentum: U.S. To Host Upcoming Proliferation Security Initiative Meeting

On January 27, 2016, countries that have endorsed the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) will gather in Washington, DC, for a political conference. This conference will afford PSI endorsing states a chance to reaffirm their commitment to the PSI and build greater momentum leading to the group’s 15th anniversary and high-level meeting in 2018.

What exactly is the PSI?

The Proliferation Security Initiative is a commitment among 105 nations to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems.

Countries that have endorsed the PSI cooperate to interdict -- or disrupt -- shipments of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and related materials to and from state and non-state actors of proliferation concern, consistent with domestic and international laws.

The PSI was born nearly 13 years ago in Krakow, Poland when a group of 11 countries agreed that international cooperation was critical to stopping the proliferation of WMD. This group drafted the PSI Statement of Interdiction Principles -- a roadmap of goals and objectives countries implement in their efforts to thwart proliferation-related shipments. Since then, this partnership of 11 has grown to include 105 countries that have all pledged political support to stop the proliferation of WMD and related material.

Over the past several years, PSI has added to its ranks and built capacity through training, workshops and exercises that have helped many nations improve their interdiction readiness and decision-making processes. And countries recognize that defeating the proliferators requires broad international support and cooperation, as well as strong domestic and international laws.

Here are a few more facts about how PSI operates:

  • PSI endorsers help develop legal, diplomatic, economic and enforcement tools to enhance interdiction capabilities.
  • The PSI increases awareness of the need for integrating countering proliferation finance into national efforts to obstruct proliferators.
  • PSI uses an operational experts group of interdiction-related policy makers and other experts to implement decisions from high-level meetings, guide related intersessional activities, and assess counterproliferation tools and resources.

This 13-year-strong endeavor has met with remarkable success. President Obama has made it an important part of his agenda to ensure terrorists never acquire a nuclear weapon. In his 2009 speech in Prague, Obama called on nations to make the PSI “a durable international institution.”

One success that complements the principles of PSI is the entry-into-force of the SUA protocols. (SUA stands for the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation and the Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental Shelf.) These protocols are a set of separate treaties that make the trafficking of WMD on the high seas a criminal activity. These protocols opened for signature in 2005 and entered into force in 2010. In Warsaw, Poland, at the PSI’s 10-year anniversary high-level meeting in 2013, the United States pledged to ratify the SUA protocols before the next high-level meeting in 2018. We made good on that promise in August 2015, when we ratified these SUA protocols.

I will chair this month’s gathering, dubbed the “Mid-level Political Meeting,” since it is halfway between the every-five-year High-level Political Meeting the PSI holds. At this meeting, we will review the progress we have made in advancing PSI principles and examine changes in the proliferation and interdiction landscapes. We will also focus on the commitments we made at the 2013 high-level political meeting in Warsaw.

After we’ve wrapped up this year’s mid-level political meeting, we will march onward, using the momentum from this summit to push for more action. We along with our fellow PSI endorsers urge the rest of the world to join us.

About the Author: Thomas Countryman is the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau International Security and Nonproliferation.

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sunil g.
January 14, 2016
Wonderful blog. It wll be our privilege to publish ur articles in our' Gwalior sandesh' newspaper. Warm regards.
A Japanese vessel joins a Proliferation Security initiative multinational exercise near Tokyo - along with U.S., Australian, and French ships - aimed at intercepting weapons of mass destruction at sea.
January 12, 2016


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