Search This Blog

Friday, June 04, 2004

Proliferation Security Initiative

A year ago (May 31, 2003), President Bush announced a Proliferation Security Initiative, which in the State Department's words "is an effort to enhance and expand efforts to prevent the flow of WMD [weapons of mass destruction], their delivery systems, and related materials to and from states and non-state actors of proliferation concern."

Eleven "core" countries initially joined with the US to initiate the PSI, but 60-80 states (reports vary) are currently meeting in Krakow to discuss implementation measures.

Since PSI is "an activity, not an organization," the US isn't seeking formal participation by other states. To the administration, it is multilateralism without pesky bureaucrats.

The original core countries adopted a "Statement of Interdiction Principles" on September 4, 2003. The US State Department claims that more than 50 countries have reviewed the SOPs (their acronym, not mine) and "share" the views expressed. Allegedly, all this is consistent with previous nonproliferation accords.

This seems to be how the PSI is supposed to work:
PSI is not focused on countries but on shipments to states and non-state actors of proliferation concern. Vessels of a state would be boarded only to the extent consistent with national legal authorities and international law.
Countries that challenge the legality of a specific claim can opt out of it. The range of proliferation activity covered is fairly broad:
The P.S.I. calls for its signatory nations to use existing laws and treaties to stop the spread of missiles and weapons parts by boarding suspect ships, raiding factories and asking states to stop suspect flights from entering their airspace.
It's not at all clear to me what happens if a consensual boarding is sought -- and denied. Embedded State Dept. neocon John Bolton seems to be the key US policy person on PSI, and he's got a fairly hawkish take on this issue.

By reading State's FAQ, I've learned that the countries are not going to share intelligence multilaterally (!), but the US will act only when it has a "solid case." Where have we heard that before?

Negative spin: To "enforce" nonproliferation standards (which generally have opt-out clauses) the US may end up employing force in a manner that not 100% consistent with international law. And like the Iraq adventure, states that disagree can just stand on the sidelines and watch.

As has announced, Russia recently agreed to join the PSI core states, bringing the total now to 15. In the past, Russia refused to join PSA because it thought the US would use this as cover to board ships unilaterally in order to search and seize suspicious material.

Leaders are expected to discuss the PSI at this month's G-8 meeting in Georgia. I'll be watching for news.

No comments:

Post a Comment