U.S.-Led Coalition Seeks to Block Weapon Shipments
Kennedy, Harold, National Defense
The United States and 10 other nations have embarked upon a controversial plan to limit the spread of weapons of mass destruction by blocking suspect shipments by air, land or sea.
Since May, when President Bush launched the effort--known as the Proliferation Security Initiative--the U.S. Navy and allied forces have conducted five maritime-interdiction exercises in the Pacific Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Another one, the first to be led by the United States, is scheduled later this month in the Arabian Sea. Four more are planned in coming weeks.
PSI is "an essential component of the U.S. strategy to combat proliferation," John R. Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, told ,an audience in November, during the American Spectator Dinner in Washington, D.C. With this initiative, he said, the United States plans "to work with other concerned states to develop new methods to disrupt the proliferation trade at sea, in the air and on land."
Cooperating with the United States on PSI, thus far, are Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and the United Kingdom. In all, Bolton said, more than 50 countries have indicated support for PSI "and are ready to participate in interdiction efforts."
The cooperation of other nations, he conceded, is important because the right in conduct maritime interdictions is restricted under international law. A country usually can board a ship in one of its own ports or territorial waters without permission. In international waters, however, a country can board a ship forcibly only if it flies that country's flag, claims no nationality at all, or is suspected of piracy or carrying slaves. Thus, the United States is seeking as many countries as possible to participate in PSI, particularly key maritime states.
"PSI has been a fast-moving effort, reflecting the urgency attached to establishing a more coordinated and active basis to prevent proliferation," Bolton said.
The Bush administration claims this initiative is necessary, as potential enemies sock to develop WMD. Sadam Hussein's removal from power in Iraq has "unquestionably improved the international situation," Bolton said. But "state sponsors of terrorism--such as Iran, North Korea, Syria and Libya--are aggressively working to acquire weapons of mass destruction and their missile delivery systems."
To block these efforts, the United States and its allies will use diplomatic tactics whenever possible, Bolton said, but they "must be willing to deploy more robust techniques, such as the interdiction and seizure of illicit goods, the disruption of procurement networks, sanctions or other means." No option, he warned, "is off the table."
Properly planned and executed, "interception of critical technologies while en route can prevent hostile states and non-state actors from acquiring these dangerous capabilities," Bolton said. "At a minimum, interdiction can lengthen the time that proliferators will need to acquire new weapons capabilities, increase the cost and demonstrate our resolve to combat proliferation."
In September, the 11 PSI partners met in Paris and agreed on a set of principles laying out practical steps necessary to interdict shipments of WMD, delivery systems and related materials flowing to and from states and non-state actors of concern.
While participants agreed that North Korea and lean are "states of particular proliferation concern," PSI efforts are not aimed at any one country, but at halting worldwide trafficking in WMD, delivery systems and related materials," Bolton said.
Participants agreed to hold a series of 10 sea, air and ground training exercises that would include both military and law enforcement assets. The first exercise--called Pacific Protector--took place in September in the Coral Sea. Led by Australia, Pacific Protector involved …
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Publication information: Article title: U.S.-Led Coalition Seeks to Block Weapon Shipments. Contributors: Kennedy, Harold - Author. Magazine title: National Defense. Volume: 88. Issue: 602 Publication date: January 2004. Page number: 35+. © 2009 National Defense Industrial Association. COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group.
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