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Proliferation Security Initiative

Proliferation Security Initiative

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The Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) is a global effort that aims to stop trafficking of weapons of mass destruction
Weapons of mass destruction
A weapon of mass destruction is a weapon that can kill and bring significant harm to a large number of humans and/or cause great damage to man-made structures , natural structures , or the biosphere in general...

 (WMD), their delivery systems, and related materials to and from states
State (polity)
A state is an organized political community, living under a government. States may be sovereign and may enjoy a monopoly on the legal initiation of force and are not dependent on, or subject to any other power or state. Many states are federated states which participate in a federal union...

 and non-state actor
Non-state actor
Non-state actors are categorized as entities participating or acting in the sphere of international relations; organisations with sufficient power to influence and cause change in politics which are...

s of proliferation concern. Launched by United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 in May 2003
May 2003
May 2003: January – February – March – April – May – June – July – August – September – October – November – December – →-Events:-May 1, 2003:...

 at a meeting in Kraków
Kraków also Krakow, or Cracow , is the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River in the Lesser Poland region, the city dates back to the 7th century. Kraków has traditionally been one of the leading centres of Polish academic, cultural, and artistic life...

, Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

, the PSI has now grown to include the endorsement of 98 nations around the world, including Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, the Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, Poland, Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

, New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, Republic of Korea and Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

. Despite the support of over half of the Members of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

, a number of major international powers have expressed opposition to the initiative, including India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

, and Malaysia.


The idea of the PSI is generally credited to John R. Bolton
John R. Bolton
John Robert Bolton is an American lawyer and diplomat who has served in several Republican presidential administrations. He served as the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations from August 2005 until December 2006 on a recess appointment...

, former US Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security and former United States Ambassador to the United Nations
United States Ambassador to the United Nations
The United States Ambassador to the United Nations is the leader of the U.S. delegation, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. The position is more formally known as the "Permanent Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations, with the rank and status of Ambassador...

, after 15 Scud
Scud is a series of tactical ballistic missiles developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and exported widely to other countries. The term comes from the NATO reporting name SS-1 Scud which was attached to the missile by Western intelligence agencies...

 missiles found on board an unflagged
Flag State
The flag state of a commercial vessel is the state under whose laws the vessel is registered or licensed.The flag state has the authority and responsibility to enforce regulations over vessels registered under its flag, including those relating to inspection, certification, and issuance of safety...

  North Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

n freighter, the So Sen, heading towards Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

 had to be released when it turned out that international law
International law
Public international law concerns the structure and conduct of sovereign states; analogous entities, such as the Holy See; and intergovernmental organizations. To a lesser degree, international law also may affect multinational corporations and individuals, an impact increasingly evolving beyond...

 did not allow them to be confiscated. Given this apparent gap in international law, several months later US President Bush announced the initiative with his counterpart, Polish President Aleksander Kwaśniewski
Aleksander Kwasniewski
Aleksander Kwaśniewski is a Polish politician who served as the President of Poland from 1995 to 2005. He was born in Białogard, and during communist rule he was active in the Socialist Union of Polish Students and was the Minister for Sport in the communist government in the 1980s...

 at Wawel Castle in Kraków on May 31, 2003.

Initially, the PSI included 11 "core" states (Australia, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

, Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

, the United Kingdom, the US and Poland). On September 4, 2003, in Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, these countries detailed the principles governing the PSI in a document titled the "Statement of Interdiction Principles" . The document defines the activities which are to be undertaken by the initiative, specifically "to establish a more coordinated and effective basis through which to impede and stop shipments of WMD, delivery systems, and related materials flowing to and from states and non-state actors of proliferation concern, consistent with national legal authorities and relevant international law and frameworks, including the UN Security Council circumstances in which such operations may be carried out (at sea, on land, or in the air) including, most importantly, the requirement that any action taken must be consistent with international law." Since the initial core group of 2003, PSI has expanded to include an "Operational Experts Group" (OEG) of 21 nations as well as 77 other endorsee states. Key states who have endorsed the initiative since it's initial founding include major actors in international trade
International trade
International trade is the exchange of capital, goods, and services across international borders or territories. In most countries, such trade represents a significant share of gross domestic product...

 such as Singapore and the United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates, abbreviated as the UAE, or shortened to "the Emirates", is a state situated in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia on the Persian Gulf, bordering Oman, and Saudi Arabia, and sharing sea borders with Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Iran.The UAE is a...

, as well as countries such as Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 and the Republic of Korea, who are in geographically close proximity to states designated by United Nations Security Council resolution
United Nations Security Council Resolution
A United Nations Security Council resolution is a UN resolution adopted by the fifteen members of the Security Council; the UN body charged with "primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security"....

s as proliferation threats.

Nine nations have signed bilateral Mutual Shipboarding Agreements with the United States, allowing the mutual expedition of shipboarding requests for ships under those nations' flags. The nine are the Bahamas, Belize
Belize is a constitutional monarchy and the northernmost country in Central America. Belize has a diverse society, comprising many cultures and languages. Even though Kriol and Spanish are spoken among the population, Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official...

, Croatia
Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

, Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

, Liberia
Liberia , officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Sierra Leone on the west, Guinea on the north and Côte d'Ivoire on the east. Liberia's coastline is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the more sparsely populated inland consists of forests that open...

, Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

, the Marshall Islands
Marshall Islands
The Republic of the Marshall Islands , , is a Micronesian nation of atolls and islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, just west of the International Date Line and just north of the Equator. As of July 2011 the population was 67,182...

, Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

 and Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

. Each of these nations maintains a large number of commercial vessels on their registries, and are often considered flag of convenience
Flag of convenience
The term flag of convenience describes the business practice of registering a merchant ship in a sovereign state different from that of the ship's owners, and flying that state's civil ensign on the ship. Ships are registered under flags of convenience to reduce operating costs or avoid the...


In April 2009
April 2009
April 2009 was the fourth month of that year. It began on a Wednesday and ended after 30 days on a Thursday.- Portal:Current events :This is an archived version of Wikipedia's Current events Portal from April 2009....

, at a speech in Prague
Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 2.3 million...

, Czech Republic
Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The country is bordered by Poland to the northeast, Slovakia to the east, Austria to the south, and Germany to the west and northwest....

, newly inaugurated President Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 announced that he planned to transform the PSI into a "durable international institution," indicating that US promotion of the initiative would remain non-partisan and cross over from the previous administration. Indeed, Obama had made the strengthening of the PSI one of his campaign promises in the Presidential election of 2008
United States presidential election, 2008
The United States presidential election of 2008 was the 56th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on November 4, 2008. Democrat Barack Obama, then the junior United States Senator from Illinois, defeated Republican John McCain, the senior U.S. Senator from Arizona. Obama received 365...

 and continued to promote the PSI through the 2010 White House Nuclear Security Strategy.


The primary role of PSI participants is to abide by the Statement of Interdiction Principles, with the primary purpose of interdicting subject weapons and materials. Additionally, participants are recommended to enact legal statutes to facilitate effective interdiction and seizure of such items. Finally, participants are to take measures to ensure that their national facilities are not utilized to transfer illicit weapon cargoes.

In the United States, the program is managed by the National Security Staff working out of the White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

, with The Pentagon
The Pentagon
The Pentagon is the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, located in Arlington County, Virginia. As a symbol of the U.S. military, "the Pentagon" is often used metonymically to refer to the Department of Defense rather than the building itself.Designed by the American architect...

 and intelligence agencies playing lead roles. The United States Department of State
United States Department of State
The United States Department of State , is the United States federal executive department responsible for international relations of the United States, equivalent to the foreign ministries of other countries...

 Bureau of Nonproliferation also plays a role in the PSI, including leading foreign outreach efforts in the initiave, as well as maintaining the "Focal Point" for the initiative, a US-led function to keep track of actions and other procedural matters.

Participation in PSI activities generally include OEG meetings, live exercises, command post exercises, tabletop exercises, seminars, workshops, and other WMD Interdiction
training. The Department of State notes that as of June 2011
June 2011
June 2011 is the sixth month of the current year. It began on a Wednesday and ended after 30 days on a Thursday.- Portal:Current events :This is an archived version of Wikipedia's Current events Portal from June 2011....

 PSI has held 25 OEG, Regional OEG or "High Level Political" meetings and 47 other exercises, workshops or "gaming" events.

Current members include:
  • Afghanistan
  • Albania
  • Andorra
  • Angola
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Argentina
  • Armenia
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bahamas, The
  • Bahrain
  • Belarus
  • Belgium
  • Belize
  • Bosnia
  • Brunei Darussalam
  • Bulgaria
  • Cambodia
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Djibouti
  • El Salvador
  • Estonia
  • Fiji
  • Finland
  • France
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Holy See
  • Honduras
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Iraq
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Korea, Republic of
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Kuwait
  • Latvia
  • Liberia
  • Libya
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Macedonia
  • Malta
  • Marshall Islands
  • Moldova
  • Mongolia
  • Montenegro
  • Morocco
  • The Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Oman
  • Panama
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Paraguay
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Qatar
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Samoa
  • Saudi Arabia
  • San Marino
  • Serbia
  • Singapore
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sri Lanka
  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Tajikistan
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • Turkmenistan
  • Ukraine
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Uzbekistan
  • Vanuatu
  • Yemen

Interdictions and Events

  • In September 2003
    September 2003
    September 2003: January – February – March – April – May – June – July – August – September – October – November – December-Events:-September 1, 2003:*Dutch dispensaries are to become the first in the world to offer cannabis as a prescription drug...

    , Germany obtained information that the BBC China, an Antigua and Barbuda
    Antigua and Barbuda
    Antigua and Barbuda is a twin-island nation lying between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It consists of two major inhabited islands, Antigua and Barbuda, and a number of smaller islands...

    -flagged vessel, was transporting nuclear-related materials to Libya
    Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

     as on behalf of the Abdul Qadeer Khan
    Abdul Qadeer Khan
    Abdul Qadeer Khan , also known in Pakistan as Mohsin-e-Pakistan , D.Eng, Sc.D, HI, NI , FPAS; more widely known as Dr. A. Q...

     proliferation network. The German government dispatched intelligence experts to Italy, who conducted an inspection of the ship in the Mediterranean with the support of the US Navy. The inspection revealed that the ship's container number was fabricated and the German government confiscated the nuclear-related equipment (aluminum tubes that can be converted into centrifuge
    A centrifuge is a piece of equipment, generally driven by an electric motor , that puts an object in rotation around a fixed axis, applying a force perpendicular to the axis...

    s). Although some sources cite this interdiction as an early success of the PSI, others dispute the initiative's relationship to this event.

  • In an embarrassing "failure" of the PSI, in April 2005
    April 2005
    April 2005: ← – January – February – March – April – May – June – July – August – September – October – November – December – →...

     Germany authorized the export of a high-tech crane aboard the vessel Hual Africa that could be utilized in Iran
    Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

    's Shahab-4
    The Shahab-4 aka IRIS liquid propelled missile is an alleged, and possibly fictional, programme for Iran's first missile to bring satellites into orbit....

     missile program.

  • In June 2009
    June 2009
    June 2009 was the sixth month of that year. It began on a Monday and ended after 30 days on a Tuesday.- Portal:Current events :This is an archived version of Wikipedia's Current events Portal from June 2009....

    , the North Korean vessel Kang Nam believed to be headed to Myanmar
    Burma , officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar , is a country in Southeast Asia. Burma is bordered by China on the northeast, Laos on the east, Thailand on the southeast, Bangladesh on the west, India on the northwest, the Bay of Bengal to the southwest, and the Andaman Sea on the south....

     turned around after being tracked by the US Navy. In the same timeframe, two Japanese and one Korean man were arrested for trying to import WMD technology to Myanmar. After this incident, North Korea claimed that it would engage in military action in retaliation for any searching of its ships.

  • On September 22, 2009, South Korea seized North Korean containers transiting the port of Busan
    Busan , formerly spelled Pusan is South Korea's second largest metropolis after Seoul, with a population of around 3.6 million. The Metropolitan area population is 4,399,515 as of 2010. It is the largest port city in South Korea and the fifth largest port in the world...

     which contained protective clothing used in used to protect against chemical weapons.

  • In December 2009
    December 2009
    December 2009 was the 12th month of that year. It began on a Tuesday and ended 31 days later on a Thursday. It was the last month of the 2000s decade.-Portal:Current events:...

    , Thailand
    Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

     (which has not endorsed the PSI) stopped a North Korean shipment of mixed conventional arms and missile technology, based on information from US intelligence, which had been tracking the shipment since it departed Pyongyang
    Pyongyang is the capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, commonly known as North Korea, and the largest city in the country. Pyongyang is located on the Taedong River and, according to preliminary results from the 2008 population census, has a population of 3,255,388. The city was...

    . The ultimate planned destination of the materials was not determined, but it was thought to be heading towards Iran (to eventually arm Hezbollah or Hamas
    Hamas is the Palestinian Sunni Islamic or Islamist political party that governs the Gaza Strip. Hamas also has a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades...

    ) or potentially Pakistan
    Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

    . Months later, in February 2010
    February 2010
    February 2010 was the second month of that year. It began on a Monday and ended after 28 days on a Sunday.-Portal:Current events:This is an archived version of Wikipedia's Current events Portal from February 2010.-References:...

     South Africa
    South Africa
    The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

     ordered the return of a shipment of North Korean military equipment to the port of Durban
    Durban is the largest city in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal and the third largest city in South Africa. It forms part of the eThekwini metropolitan municipality. Durban is famous for being the busiest port in South Africa. It is also seen as one of the major centres of tourism...

    , ostensibly declared as heading to the Congo Republic.

  • In June 2011
    June 2011
    June 2011 is the sixth month of the current year. It began on a Wednesday and ended after 30 days on a Thursday.- Portal:Current events :This is an archived version of Wikipedia's Current events Portal from June 2011....

    , the New York Times reported on the turning around of the Belize-flagged North Korean Vessel MV Light, suspected of transporting missile technology to Myanmar. The USS McCampbell
    USS McCampbell (DDG-85)
    USS McCampbell is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer in the United States Navy, named for Captain David McCampbell , the Navy's leading ace in World War II...

     intercepted the ship and requested boarding, which was refused by the vessel operator despite the granting of authority from Belize, consistent with the US-Belize ship boarding agreement (see History above). The failure of the North Korean crew to comply with the orders of its flag arguably made it a "stateless" vessel under international maritime law, however the ship was allowed to return to North Korea. Although the materials were not "interdicted" or even inspected to verify a violation, the fact that the commodity never reached its planned target arguably made it a "success" for PSI.


PSI activities include the regular holding of activities known as "exercises," which aim to test the authorities and capabilities of endorsee nations to interdict WMD-related materials. Exercises can include "live action" events such as ship boardings or container searches, or be limited to "tabletop" activities where subject matter experts explore legal and operational interdiction questions related to a fictional scenario. Major PSI exercises have included:
  • Pacific Protector 2003, a maritime exercise hosted in the Coral Sea
    Coral Sea
    The Coral Sea is a marginal sea off the northeast coast of Australia. It is bounded in the west by the east coast of Queensland, thereby including the Great Barrier Reef, in the east by Vanuatu and by New Caledonia, and in the north approximately by the southern extremity of the Solomon Islands...

     off of Queensland
    Queensland is a state of Australia, occupying the north-eastern section of the mainland continent. It is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean...

    , Australia
  • SAFE Borders, a 2004 land-border exercise in Wrocław, Poland.
  • Team Samurai 04, a Japanese maritime exercise held primarily in Sagami Bay
    Sagami Bay
    Sagami Bay , also known as the Sagami Gulf or Sagami Sea, lies south of Kanagawa Prefecture in Honshū, central Japan, contained within the scope of the Miura Peninsula, in Kanagawa, to the east, the Izu Peninsula, in Shizuoka Prefecture, to the west, and the Shōnan coastline to the north, while the...

  • Pacific Protector 06, an air interdiction exercise held in Darwin
    Darwin, Northern Territory
    Darwin is the capital city of the Northern Territory, Australia. Situated on the Timor Sea, Darwin has a population of 127,500, making it by far the largest and most populated city in the sparsely populated Northern Territory, but the least populous of all Australia's capital cities...

    , Australia which included major law enforcement
    Law enforcement
    Law enforcement broadly refers to any system by which some members of society act in an organized manner to promote adherence to the law by discovering and punishing persons who violate the rules and norms governing that society...

     activities in addition to military.
  • MARU, a New Zealand-hosted maritime exercise led by the New Zealand Customs Service
    New Zealand Customs Service
    The Customs Service is a state sector organisation of New Zealand whose role is to provide border control and protect the community from potential risks arising from international trade and travel, as well as collecting duties and taxes on imports to the country. New Zealand's Minister of Customs...

     in Auckland
    The Auckland metropolitan area , in the North Island of New Zealand, is the largest and most populous urban area in the country with residents, percent of the country's population. Auckland also has the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world...

  • Leading Edge 2010, a joint United Arab Emirates and United States maritime and port exercise in Abu Dhabi
    Abu Dhabi
    Abu Dhabi , literally Father of Gazelle, is the capital and the second largest city of the United Arab Emirates in terms of population and the largest of the seven member emirates of the United Arab Emirates. Abu Dhabi lies on a T-shaped island jutting into the Persian Gulf from the central western...

  • Eastern Endeavor 2010, the first exercise hosted by the Republic of Korea (in Busan
    Busan , formerly spelled Pusan is South Korea's second largest metropolis after Seoul, with a population of around 3.6 million. The Metropolitan area population is 4,399,515 as of 2010. It is the largest port city in South Korea and the fifth largest port in the world...

    ) after endorsing the initiative and arguably held in response to the ROKS Cheonan sinking
    ROKS Cheonan sinking
    The ROKS Cheonan sinking occurred on 26 March 2010, when the Cheonan, a South Korean Navy ship carrying 104 personnel, sank off the country's west coast near Baengnyeong Island in the Yellow Sea, killing 46 seamen...


In August 2005, a multi-national maritime interdiction exercise, codenamed Exercise Deep Sabre
Exercise Deep Sabre
Exercise Deep Sabre is a multi-national maritime interdiction exercise conducted in August 2005 in South China Sea.Launched at the Changi Naval Base in Singapore, the exercise is part of the Proliferation Security Initiative...

, was conducted in Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

 as part of the PSI. The exercise, launched at the Changi Naval Base
Changi Naval Base
Changi Naval Base is the latest naval facility of the Republic of Singapore Navy and was built to replace Brani Naval Base. Located about 1.5 kilometres east of Changi Air Base and 3.5 kilometres east of Singapore Changi Airport, the base was built on 1.28 km² of reclaimed land, it was...

 and conducted in the South China Sea
South China Sea
The South China Sea is a marginal sea that is part of the Pacific Ocean, encompassing an area from the Singapore and Malacca Straits to the Strait of Taiwan of around...

, involved some 2,000 personnel from the military, coast guard, customs and other agencies of 13 countries, including Singapore, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Russia, the United Kingdom and the US. Ten ships and six maritime patrol aircraft were involved in the exercise that aimed to develop and practice effective procedures to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction
Weapons of mass destruction
A weapon of mass destruction is a weapon that can kill and bring significant harm to a large number of humans and/or cause great damage to man-made structures , natural structures , or the biosphere in general...

. A second Deep Sabre Event (Deep Sabre II) was held in October 2009.


Critics of PSI, such as China, Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), argue that the declared intent of PSI members to stop ships on the high seas is a violation of international law guaranteeing freedom of the seas. In particular, it's argued that Article 23 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea , also called the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea treaty, is the international agreement that resulted from the third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea , which took place from 1973 through 1982...

 (UNCLOS) allows ships "carrying nuclear or other inherently dangerous or noxious substances" the right of innocent passage through territorial seas. Opponents have asserted that the PSI gives states a license to carry out acts of "piracy" on the high seas. It has also been argued the PSI's intent to "interdict nuclear materials and contraband" is a broad enough charter to include any naval operation anywhere and for any actual purpose. There are concerns that such actions could lead to war. Indonesia's Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda
Hassan Wirajuda
Nur Hassan Wirajuda was the foreign minister of Indonesia from 2001 to 2009. Her serves under presidencies of Megawati Sukarnoputri andSusilo Bambang Yudhoyono- Educations :...

 argued that the PSI "initiative was not initiated through a multilateral process, but only a group of nations that have a common goal to conduct a certain initiatives." He also believed that PSI violates the UNCLOS. (Xinhua News Agency, March 17, 2006). Other critics have argued that PSI activities violate international laws regarding self-defense, Articles 19 and 88 of UNCLOS. A large proportion of criticisms of the legality of PSI come from Indian news sources. Criticism over the legality of PSI also focus around the fact that the initiative does not fall under any United Nations committee or body, and that doing so might legitimize it.

Targets specific states

Many of academic and news articles about the initiative state that the PSI is focused specifically on states such as Iran and the DPRK. North Korea has stated that it feels the PSI is an instrument for an aggressive war planned by the United States against the DPRK under the pretext of blockading ships and planes. Indian publications discouraging participation in PSI have defined PSI as being specifically directed towards Iran and have stated that "India on no account should be a part of any anti-Iranian strategic initiative led by the United States." Other potential suggested targets of PSI have included Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, Myanmar, and Pakistan.

Despite these accusations and perceptions, all official PSI documentation and press releases state that PSI does not target any particular state, and that individual nations within the initiative are able to make self-determinations on what shipments are targeted. Several of the 98 PSI-endorsee states have robust diplomatic and trade relationships with Iran, the DPRK, and other states suggested as likely targets.

United States leadership and perception as "Bush initiative"

The preponderance of news sources and academic analysis on the initiative often describe PSI as being a "US-led" initiative. Like the issue of whether PSI targets specific states, participants in the initiative itself explicitly deny that it is an effort "led" by the United States and that PSI is truly defined by the nonproliferation activities of 98 nations.

Much early criticism of the initiative also explicitly linked PSI to other international activities of the globally controversial George W. Bush administration, including namely the War on Terror
War on Terror
The War on Terror is a term commonly applied to an international military campaign led by the United States and the United Kingdom with the support of other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as well as non-NATO countries...

, invasion of Afghanistan
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

 to overthrow the Taliban, the 2003 invasion of Iraq
2003 invasion of Iraq
The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...

, and a general international perception of US unilateralism
Unilateralism is any doctrine or agenda that supports one-sided action. Such action may be in disregard for other parties, or as an expression of a commitment toward a direction which other parties may find agreeable...

 outside of United Nations frameworks. Domestically in the United States, liberal
Progressivism in the United States
Progressivism in the United States is a broadly based reform movement that reached its height early in the 20th century and is generally considered to be middle class and reformist in nature. It arose as a response to the vast changes brought by modernization, such as the growth of large...

 critics referenced the PSI and its links to Under-Secretary Bolton as an extension of the Bush Administration's "Coalition of the willing
Coalition of the willing
The term coalition of the willing is a post-1990 political phrase used to collectively describe participants in military or military-humanitarian interventions for which the United Nations Security Council cannot agree to mount a full UN peacekeeping operation...

." However, over time much of these criticisms have subsided as PSI activities grew to have large bipartisan support in the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 and the PSI continued to be promoted under the Presidency of Barack Obama
Presidency of Barack Obama
The Presidency of Barack Obama began at noon EST on January 20, 2009 when he became the 44th President of the United States. Obama was a United States Senator from Illinois at the time of his victory over Arizona Senator John McCain in the 2008 presidential election...

. With President Obama's continued promotion of the initiative and commitment to expand and institutionalize it, many initial opponents of the initiative have reduced their negative comments and begun efforts to explore joining the initiative in order to be recognized as a player in global non-proliferation efforts.

Lack of transparency

Some criticism of PSI has been pointed towards the "secretive" nature of the initiative. It has been argued that "the secretiveness surrounding PSI interdictions and the methods employed make it difficult to evaluate its effectiveness or its legitimacy," and that the lack of formality and structure in the initiative are causes for concern.

In a June 2006
June 2006
June 2006 was the sixth month of that year. It began on a Thursday and ended after 30 days on a FridayThe following events also occurred during the month:...

 speech, then-Undersecretary of State Robert Joseph
Robert Joseph
Robert G. Joseph is a senior scholar at the National Institute for Public Policy and professor at Missouri State University. He was the United States Special Envoy for Nuclear Nonproliferation, with ambassadorial rank. Prior to this post, Dr...

 claimed that between April 2005
April 2005
April 2005: ← – January – February – March – April – May – June – July – August – September – October – November – December – →...

 and April 2006
April 2006
April 2006: ← – January – February – March – April – May – June – July – August – September – October – November – December –→-1 April 2006 :...

 the United States had cooperated with other PSI participants on "roughly two dozen" occasions to prevent transfers of concern; and in May 2005
May 2005
May 2005 was the fifth month of that year. It began on a Sunday and ended after 31 days, on a Tuesday.May 2005: ← – January – February – March – April – May – June – July – August – September – October – November – December –...

 Ulrik Federspiel, Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

’s ambassador to the United States, asserted that "the shipment of missiles has fallen significantly in the lifetime of PSI." However, references such as these provide no actual information on or evidence of interdictions which have occurred, leaving critics to remain skeptical of such numbers or of any "metrics" that prove the effectiveness of the initiative.

Responses to criticism

Much of the criticism about the PSI have been faced with counter-arguments, given the inaccurate or outdated nature of much of the information about the initiative. The most common negative portrayal of PSI represents it as an illegal, US-led effort to interdict third party vessels on the high seas. PSI proponents have countered that:
  • United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1540
    United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540
    United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 was adopted unanimously on April 28, 2004 regarding the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction...

     places an international obligation on all Members of the UN to take action against the proliferation of WMD, and its language matches closely with the PSI Statement of Interdiction Principles.
  • UNSCRs 1874
    United Nations Security Council Resolution 1874
    United Nations Security Council Resolution 1874 was adopted unanimously by the United Nations Security Council on 12 June 2009. The resolution, passed under Chapter VII, Article 41, of the UN Charter, imposes further economic and commercial sanctions on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea ...

     (on the DPRK's WMD program) and 1929
    United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929
    United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929, adopted on 9 June 2010, after recalling resolutions 1696 , 1737 , 1747 , 1803 , 1835 and 1887 concerning the topics of Iran and non-proliferation, the Council noted that Iran had failed to comply with previous Security Council resolutions...

     (on Iran's WMD program) explicitly call on or require UN Members to take interdiction and inspection actions against WMD-related materials that are consistent with PSI's principles. Thus inspection of such vessels are international mandates rather than "piracy," as accused by DPRK and Iran.
  • Article 4 of the 2005 Protocols to the "UN Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation" illegalize the illicit transfer of WMD-related materials by maritime vessel.
  • The 2010 International Civil Aviation Organization
    International Civil Aviation Organization
    The International Civil Aviation Organization , pronounced , , is a specialized agency of the United Nations. It codifies the principles and techniques of international air navigation and fosters the planning and development of international air transport to ensure safe and orderly growth...

     (ICAO) "Convention on the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Relating to International Civil Aviation" and "Protocol Supplementary to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft" illegalize the illicit transfer of WMD-related materials by aircraft.
  • Contrary to comments that the PSI works "outside" of international frameworks such as the United Nations, UN officials including Secretary General Kofi Annan
    Kofi Annan
    Kofi Atta Annan is a Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the UN from 1 January 1997 to 31 December 2006...

     have "applaud[ed] the efforts of the Proliferation Security Initiative to fill a gap in our defenses."
  • In February 2004, the PSI was "expanded" beyond a military and intelligence effort to include greater cooperation with law enforcement entities. However, a number of critical sources about PSI, such as SourceWatch
    SourceWatch is an internet wiki site that is a collaborative project of the liberal Center for Media and Democracy...

     only include information about PSI dating from 2003 and do not recognize the evolution of PSI to have a greater focus on law and domestic authorities. PSI has largely evolved from a focus on interdiction of ships at sea to inspection in ports
    Customs is an authority or agency in a country responsible for collecting and safeguarding customs duties and for controlling the flow of goods including animals, transports, personal effects and hazardous items in and out of a country...

  • The vast majority of PSI exercises (see exercises section above) include activities involving customs services, law enforcement officials, and focus on cargo traveling by air and land as well as sea - including cargo transiting within a country's territory. This directly contradicts the common perceptions of PSI as military, maritime or high seas
    International waters
    The terms international waters or trans-boundary waters apply where any of the following types of bodies of water transcend international boundaries: oceans, large marine ecosystems, enclosed or semi-enclosed regional seas and estuaries, rivers, lakes, groundwater systems , and wetlands.Oceans,...

  • As noted within the PSI principles, PSI is an "activity, not an organization" and grants no state any additional authorities to take action. All states are merely asked to take actions consistent with domestic and international law. Therefore PSI as an initiative explicitly recommends only actions within international and domestic legal authorities.
  • A large portion of states which have been critical of PSI consider themselves part of the Non-Aligned Movement
    Non-Aligned Movement
    The Non-Aligned Movement is a group of states considering themselves not aligned formally with or against any major power bloc. As of 2011, the movement had 120 members and 17 observer countries...

    , which indicates that while nominally claiming objections to the initiative for "legal" reasons, actual hesitation towards endorsement might be more aligned with political considerations, such as not wanting to be seen as supporting United States or "Western" initiatives.
  • China's objections for supposed legal reasons also come into question, as it has been identified as a neighboring country which has supported transshipment of DPRK's WMD materials, and "turns a blind eye to North Korea’s proliferation whenever it can get away with it."

See also

  • Container Security Initiative
    Container Security Initiative
    The Container Security Initiative was launched in 2002 by the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection , an agency of the Department of Homeland Security. Its purpose was to increase security for container cargo shipped to the United States...

  • Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism
    Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism
    The Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism is an international partnership of 82 nations and 4 official observers working to improve capacity on a national and international level for prevention, detection, and response to a nuclear terrorist event. Partners join the GICNT by endorsing the...

  • Nuclear proliferation
    Nuclear proliferation
    Nuclear proliferation is a term now used to describe the spread of nuclear weapons, fissile material, and weapons-applicable nuclear technology and information, to nations which are not recognized as "Nuclear Weapon States" by the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, also known as the...

  • Chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear

External links

Anti-PSI links