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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Press Releases (Other) > 2004 > May
Fact Sheet
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
May 12, 2004


U.S. and Panama: Maritime Ship Boarding Agreement

On Wednesday, May 12, 2004, the United States and Panama signed a reciprocal maritime ship boarding agreement in support of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). 

 

The Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI)

 

The Proliferation Security Initiative was announced by President Bush on May 31, 2003, and is working to establish cooperative partnerships worldwide to prevent the flow of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems, and related materials to and from states and non-state actors of proliferation concern.

 

What the U.S.-Panama Ship Boarding Agreement Does

 

The U.S.-Panama Proliferation Security Initiative maritime ship boarding agreement – which is an amendment to a very successful existing maritime law enforcement assistance arrangement between the U.S. and Panama – will facilitate cooperation between the United States and Panama to prevent shipments by sea of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems, or related materials by establishing procedures to board and search vessels suspected of carrying such items that are located in international waters.

 

If a U.S. or Panamanian-flagged vessel is suspected of carrying proliferation-related cargo, either one of the Parties to this agreement can request of the other to confirm the nationality of the ship in question and, if needed, authorize the boarding, search, and possible detention of the vessel and its cargo.

 

What the Panama-U.S. Agreement Contributes to the Proliferation Security Initiative

 

Panama is the world’s largest ship registry and its signing of the boarding agreement demonstrates a commitment by Panama to engender greater confidence and security in its flag registry.   Panama is the second state to sign a Proliferation Security Initiative ship boarding agreement; Liberia was the first to sign on February 11, 2004.   The combination of Panama, Liberia, and Proliferation Security Initiative core partner commitments means that almost 50 percent of commercial shipping fleet dead weight tonnage is now subject to rapid action consent procedures for boarding, search, and seizure. 

 

How Proliferation Security Initiative Boarding Agreements Benefit the Shipping Industry

 

Concluding the Proliferation Security Initiative ship boarding agreement further bolsters the reputation of the Panamanian ship registry and the confidence of those involved in the shipping trade that Panama is taking all steps to ensure its ships are not misused.

2004/525

Released on May 12, 2004

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