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EXBS Program: Global Transshipment Control Enforcement Workshop

Susan F. Burk, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Nonproliferation
Remarks at the Workshop
Valletta, Malta
May 11, 2004


It is a great pleasure for me to meet with you today. I would like to extend my special appreciation and thanks to the Government of Malta for co-hosting this workshop with the United States. This workshop will give all of us the opportunity to share in some detail our experiences on how we can address the threat of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems and other conventional weapons.

The timing of this event could not be better -- just two weeks ago the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution recognizing the danger proliferation poses to the entire world community and deciding that all states shall take and enforce effective measures to prevent proliferation.

This is precisely the topic of our workshop this week: how to adopt and enforce effective export controls so that we may safeguard the lives of our citizens and the security of our economies.

The Threat

There is no greater threat to peace today than the spread of nuclear, chemical, biological weapons, and their missile delivery systems. It will take strong political will and action by every responsible nation to protect our peace and prosperity. We must work together. Despite heightened awareness of the threat, the danger is not diminishing. Though the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty is closer to becoming universal, there are states that have joined the Treaty only to pursue nuclear weapons clandestinely.

Countries like these, while they continue to seek WMD technology to advance their weapons programs, also have become "secondary proliferators" providing sensitive technology and assistance to others. We also know that terrorist organizations are actively pursuing weapons of mass destruction and we can have no doubt about terrorist's willingness to use such weapons should they acquire the capability.

Meanwhile, many technologies with weapons applications have legitimate commercial applications (so-called "dual-use" goods) and these products are produced by an increasing number of companies in more and more countries around the world.

With advances in economic integration and in the volume and speed of international trade, it is now easier than ever to transfer sensitive technology and know-how to the far reaches of the globe -- and more difficult for governments to monitor and control these transactions.

As we have seen from the recent revelations about the A.Q. Khan proliferation network, proliferators cleverly mask their transactions as legitimate commerce and exploit gaps in national export control systems. Stopping proliferation requires all responsible nations to take action.

U.S. Strategy

The United State's works with the international community to combat this proliferation with a four-point strategy:

  • The first point is to strengthen and enforce existing international rules -- or establish new ones -- to stem the spread of weapons and mass destruction and their delivery systems.

    This point includes working through the multilateral export control regimes to ensure that the control lists are updated to include all the most sensitive technologies and keep pace with technological advances and proliferation procurement efforts. We also encourage all Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty signatories to adopt the Additional Protocol, strengthening the IAEA's ability to make effective inspections.

    It also includes focusing attention on radioactive sources that could be used to create a "dirty bomb." We are encouraging adherence to the new UN Code of Conduct on Radioactive Sources, working to conclude the Convention on Protection of Nuclear Sources, and negotiating to strengthen the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials.

  • The second point in the U.S. nonproliferation strategy is to improve existing tools and create new ways to curb supply and cut demand for weapons of mass destruction. These tools include sanctions, export controls, and the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), which I will address in greater detail later this morning.
  • The third point is to secure, and where, possible, eliminate dangerous nuclear, biological, chemical, and radiological materials; and control transfers of advanced conventional weapons -- with particular attention to Man-Portable Air Defense Systems.
  • The fourth point is to redirect to peaceful purposes the people, materials, and facilities that were part of former weapons programs and ensure that they don't cross borders to contribute to proliferation activities in other countries.

We are working with governments every day to implement this strategy -- bilaterally and multilaterally via the UN and the IAEA, the multilateral export control regimes and other organizations, and through assistance programs, such as the one that has organized this workshop.


As you can see, effective export controls play a critical role throughout our entire nonproliferation strategy. Export controls truly are on the front line of our fight against proliferation.  Comprehensive export control systems ensure that governments can monitor what goods and technologies leave or cross their borders in order to prevent their country from being exploited by proliferators.

A good export controls system alerts industry to the dangers of inadvertently aiding weapons programs and enlists the private sector in the nonproliferation effort.

When companies are misled by criminal or illicit brokers or when companies intentionally try to subvert a country's laws, export controls provide governments the authority and capability to stop harmful and illicit transfers, punish the violators, and unravel the proliferation network.

The title of this workshop speaks to a particular proliferation challenge that all the countries represented here today are facing: transshipment.

In the past several years, many of the world's source countries for the technologies and components needed to produce weapons of mass destruction have tightened their export control laws and improved their enforcement capabilities. In response, state sponsors of terrorism, terrorist organizations, and criminal networks increasingly are attempting to exploit the less stringent controls that exist in many of the world's transshipment hubs -- often by diverting legitimate trade or by using front companies posing as honest brokers.

Unless transshipment countries -- like those you represent here today -- can catch up with these supplier states and similarly strengthen your export control systems, your countries will remain an attractive target for this kind of predatory and illicit trade.

The consequences of a transshipment country gaining a reputation as a "free trade zone" for terrorists and criminal proliferators would be very serious, both to its international reputation as a reliable partner against proliferation -- and to international confidence in the security of commerce passing through that port.

In addition to protecting international security, implementation of improved transshipment controls can actually facilitate trade and increase revenue by focusing enforcement efforts on the very small fraction of trade that raises concern, while providing greater confidence and quicker clearance for the vast majority of legitimate trade.


To guard against these threats and protect their ports' credentials, governments will need to strengthen legal controls and improve enforcement capabilities to screen cargo for items of that could be intended for WMD programs.

These two topics -- legal authorities and enforcement techniques -- are the focus of this workshop. This workshop represents one way the United States is reaching out to work with other countries to improve international nonproliferation efforts and to do our part in fulfilling the UN Security Council resolutions in this area.

The State Department -- though our Export Control and Related Border Security Assistance, or "EXBS" program -- also works bilaterally with other countries on specific activities to improve national export controls. We have worked bilaterally with most of the countries represented here today through the EXBS program.

The EXBS program -- which you'll hear more about this morning -- provides legal workshops to draft tougher legislation, training for licensing officials, equipment and training to improve enforcement capabilities, and advice on strengthening government-industry cooperation. It is helping dozens of countries around the world make real advances with their export control systems.


In conclusion, I would stress that export controls form a key component of our common struggle against proliferation and terrorism.  Success in this critical effort requires not only a strong global nonproliferation architecture, but vigorous national efforts as well.

Sensitive dual-use commodities and advanced weapons simply cannot be controlled effectively unless there is a broad consensus to do so and cooperation among exporting, transit, and transshipment countries. And unless we can reliably prevent the unauthorized transfer of potentially dangerous and destructive capabilities to hostile parties, we may all pay the price.

The good news is that every effort made to improve controls over sensitive technologies, no matter how small, makes it harder for states to acquire WMD; it makes it more time-consuming and makes it more costly -- both financially and politically.

It is our hope that after these several days here you will take home to your governments useful lessons and information that help strengthen your country's export control system, your efforts here this week will be important in helping achieve a more safe and secure world.

Released on May 26, 2004

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