U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
Other State Department Archive SitesU.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
Home Issues & Press Travel & Business Countries Youth & Education Careers About State Video
 You are in: Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security > From the Under Secretary > Remarks > 2004

The Proliferation Security Initiative: A Vision Becomes Reality

John R. Bolton, Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security
Remarks to the First Anniversary Meeting of the Proliferation Security Initiative
Krakow, Poland
May 31, 2004

[Also: Under Secretary's remarks at press conference.]

I am pleased to be here representing the United States at this First Anniversary Meeting of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). Today marks an important milestone for PSI and the many states around the world that are working under its auspices to establish cooperative partnerships to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

It is gratifying to see so many countries represented here today to help celebrate what in a short twelve months has become an initiative synonymous with counter-proliferation cooperation. I want especially to thank the Polish Government for its work in organizing this meeting and providing us all an opportunity to commemorate what I hope will be the first of many anniversaries for PSI.

The Vision of PSI

As many of you know, President Bush announced PSI a year ago here in Krakow to address the growing challenge of WMD proliferation. The overwhelmingly positive response and enhanced awareness that PSI has fostered globally about real, practical steps that can be taken to defeat proliferation and proliferators is an important testament to the vision that President Bush had, a vision that is a growing reality.

In developing PSI, our main goal has been a simple one -- to create the basis for practical cooperation among states to help navigate this increasingly challenging arena. Our goal is based on an equally simple tenet -- that the impact of states working together in a deliberately cooperative manner would be greater than states acting alone in an ad hoc fashion.

We often say “PSI is an activity, not an organization.” This is not hard to understand, but is unusual. We think it is a fundamental reason for PSI’s success to date. PSI builds on existing nonproliferation treaties and regimes. In doing so, PSI reflects the reality that, even as we continue to support and strengthen the existing nonproliferation architecture, proliferators and those facilitating the procurement of deadly capabilities are circumventing existing laws, treaties, and controls against WMD proliferation. Through PSI, we create the basis for action to ensure that, if proliferators manage to place their deadly cargoes aboard a ship, plane, or truck, we are prepared to stop them in their tracks.

When PSI first emerged, it was criticized inaccurately as an initiative with a shaky legal underpinning. In fact, the foundation of our ability to act in support of PSI activities is our respective national legal authorities and relevant international frameworks. There is ample authority to support interdiction actions at sea, in the air, and on land. States around the world have concurred with this fact and lent their support to PSI. Importantly, the unanimous passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1540 establishes clear international acknowledgement that cooperation, such as PSI, is both useful and necessary.

The “Practical Steps” to Support the PSI

PSI was envisioned as a flexible instrument that would create the basis for rapid action between and among states, a network of partnerships. The PSI Statement of Interdiction Principles serves as the blueprint for PSI activities. It identifies steps that will facilitate effective interdiction. We welcome support for PSI, but political support is just the beginning. As PSI partners, we must work within our governments and with each other to establish the basis for cooperation when an interdiction activity requires our assistance. During the PSI meeting in Lisbon this past March, a set of “practical steps” were developed. These steps outline ways that states can make concrete contributions to building PSI’s operational capacity.

  1. Issue Formal Statement of Support for the PSI and its Principles: This establishes clearly that each state is willing to work on the basis of the Principles if a particular PSI activity requires its support. It is also an important reference point demonstrating our mutual commitment at the highest levels of our governments to work together to tackle the challenges posed by proliferators.

  2. Review and Provide Information on Current National Legal Authorities: Cataloguing our national legal authorities that support PSI activities and exchanging this information with other partners facilitates rapid action. States are not expected to have identical capabilities -- legal, operational, or otherwise. Rather, the PSI Principles acknowledge implicitly that states have different capabilities that could be called upon in support of a given PSI operation. 

  3. Establish Points of Contact and Good Internal Procedures: Establishing PSI points of contact and clear procedures in our respective governments will ensure that information is quickly shared, that requests for cooperation are easily made, and that responses are swiftly provided. Since most PSI operations are based on intelligence information, there must be agreement among PSI partners that information will be protected. Basic information sharing guidelines have been developed to this end.

  4. Identify Operational Assets and Engage in Training Efforts: A robust series of interdiction training exercises has been underway since last September. Ten training exercises will have been completed by the end of June -- five maritime, three air, and two ground. Many states here have participated in one or more of these exercises, improving our collective capabilities to work together smoothly and efficiently when an actual PSI action arises. States supporting the PSI Interdiction Principles that have not yet participated in a training exercise, particularly those taking place in their respective regions, are strongly encouraged to do so. 

  5. Be Willing to Conclude Relevant Agreements or Take Other Measures to Facilitate Cooperation: Certain states’ unique characteristics create additional opportunities to contribute to PSI. In December, the United States began approaching key flag states seeking bilateral boarding agreements that will facilitate the boarding of vessels in international waters that are suspected of carrying cargoes of proliferation concern. Liberia was the first to sign such an agreement with us on February 11. Panama signed a similar agreement on May 12. We applaud Liberia and Panama not only for their clear and strong support for PSI, but for being willing to take this extra step that demonstrates their resolve to ensure that their registries are not used by proliferators. 

We are beginning to consider what mechanisms might better facilitate cooperation in air and ground interdiction arenas so that we can facilitate cooperation among states that will be most directly affected by proliferators using these critical transport methods.

Additional Steps to Consider

In addition to these practical steps, there are other actions states can take to help build PSI.

  1. Cooperate to Shut Down Proliferation Facilitators: In Lisbon, PSI partners expressed support for President Bush’s call for PSI to expand its work to enhance cooperation to shut down proliferation facilitators and bring them to justice. This will require better information sharing to identify where proliferation facilitators operate and enhanced interaction among relevant agencies -- law enforcement, military, and intelligence. The recent revelations about A.Q. Khan illustrate the depth and breadth a proliferation network can achieve. More concerted work is needed to prevent individuals, companies, or groups of companies from successfully plying their illicit trade. 

  2. Industry Outreach: Effective outreach to obtain support and cooperation from key shippers, receivers, and insurers involved in maritime, air, port, or ground transport arenas, is essential. Such efforts also will alleviate concerns that PSI will negatively impact on legitimate commerce. 

  3. Promote Regional Cooperation: Not every PSI case will involve the same countries -- it is more likely that states in a given region will be called upon to cooperate together. Outreach and cooperation on a regional basis should be a priority, and we encourage PSI partner states to establish communication channels with their neighbors.

The Future of PSI

I have been asked many times to define “success” for PSI. There is an assumption that effectiveness is equal to the number of shipments stopped or proliferators put out of business. This is certainly one measure, but a difficult one to publicize due to the extremely sensitive nature of the information leading to PSI operations. Another barometer of success is the extent to which PSI works to deter proliferators. The deals not signed or completed, shipments not sent, insurance not extended, shipping routes no longer utilized -- all the result of PSI but, like the number of operations, not easily quantifiable, particularly publicly.

A tangible measure of PSI success is the foundation it provides for states to work together. It is truly remarkable for an initiative of this scope to have come so far in so short a time. We believe that PSI is succeeding first and foremost because of the international consensus that WMD proliferation is a threat to global peace and security, and also because PSI partners recognize that proliferation threatens their own national security.

PSI is also succeeding because it is based on practical actions that make maximum use of each country’s strengths to counter proliferation. The partnerships being forged, the contacts being established, the operational readiness being enhanced through PSI are all helping to create a lasting basis for cooperative action against proliferation.

Our vision for PSI is that a year from now we will have smooth, effective communication and operational procedures in place to interdict shipments and will have utilized them in specific cases; we will know more about how proliferators act and have devised strategies to work together to defeat them; we will have shut down the ability of persons, companies, or other entities to engage in this deadly trade; we will have undertaken effective outreach to the trade facilitation industry; and we will have made it increasingly difficult and costly for rogue states and terrorists to engage in their deadly work.


While PSI is helping stem the spread of WMD, their delivery systems, and related materials, serious proliferation threats remain. These threats must be met head on by active, concerted efforts through PSI cooperation and other available means. North Korea, Iran, and Syria, among others, are clearly states of proliferation concern; we believe that PSI partners should be ready to scrutinize shipments going to or from such states or terrorist groups.

PSI partners are laying a solid foundation for active cooperation to defeat proliferation. Our work sends a strong message that responsible members of the international community will not stand by while proliferators and those facilitating their efforts ply their dangerous trade. As PSI partnerships continue to expand, we are making a real difference. This was President Bush’s vision a year ago -- a vision that the collaboration by states gathered here today is making our common PSI reality.

Released on June 2, 2004

  Back to top

U.S. Department of State
USA.govU.S. Department of StateUpdates  |   Frequent Questions  |   Contact Us  |   Email this Page  |   Subject Index  |   Search
The Office of Electronic Information, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department. External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.
About state.gov  |   Privacy Notice  |   FOIA  |   Copyright Information  |   Other U.S. Government Information

Published by the U.S. Department of State Website at http://www.state.gov maintained by the Bureau of Public Affairs.