The Proliferation Security Initiative

The Proliferation Security Initiative or PSI was proposed by the United States on 31 March 2003 in Cracow and endorsed by the G8 in Evian in June of the same year. Its purpose is to stop trafficking of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), their delivery systems and related materials to and from States and non-State actors of proliferation concern. The PSI originally focused on maritime transport, but over time was extended to include land and air transport.

The PSI is neither an institution nor an organization. It does not have a permanent structure, central administration or its own budget. It is open to everyone. States participate and cooperate voluntarily.

BBC China. Photo credit : DOE, Y-12BBC China. Photo credit : DOE, Y-12

The PSI is part of the international community’s efforts to prevent proliferation of WMD and is consistent with UN texts in the area, particularly the Statement of the Security Council’s President of January 1992 and Resolution 1540 adopted by this same Council on 28 April 2004.

France has provided support for the PSI since its inception and is one of the eleven founding countries along with Australia, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. On 3 and 4 September 2003, it hosted the third plenary meeting in Paris during which the participating States approved the Statement of the Interdiction Principles. France has likewise participated in all operational PSI activities. On 25 and 26 September 2008, it hosted a meeting of the Operational Experts Group. This Group is a forum for discussion on past and future PSI activities, particularly exercises and raising awareness of companies using products with both civil and military uses or that are potentially proliferating. France seeks to ensure that the actions undertaken under the initiative are not in principle directed at any State or organisation, but rather towards illegal activities related to the transportation of weapons of mass destruction, their means of delivery and related materials forming part of proliferation programmes.

“The Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) is a response to the growing challenge posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), their delivery systems, and related materials worldwide. The PSI builds on efforts by the international community to prevent proliferation of such items, including existing treaties and regimes ; (...) PSI participants are deeply concerned about this threat and of the danger that these items could fall into the hands of terrorists, and are committed to working together to stop the flow of these items to and from States and non-State actors of proliferation concern.
“The PSI seeks to involve in some capacity all States that have a stake in non-proliferation and the ability and willingness to take steps to stop the flow of such items at sea, in the air, or on land. The PSI also seeks co-operation from any State whose vessels, flags, ports, territorial waters, airspace, or land might be used for proliferation purposes by States and non-State actors of proliferation concern. The increasingly aggressive efforts by proliferators to stand outside or to circumvent existing non-proliferation norms, and to profit from such trade, requires new and stronger actions by the international community. We look forward to working with all concerned States on measures they are able and willing to take in support of the PSI, as outlined in the “Interdiction Principles (...)”

Paris, 4 September 2003

To find out more
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- See the reports on the control of sensitive materials in the Gulf of Aden (joint military and training staff)