World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Stopping the Spread of WMDs in the Asian-Pacific

Stopping the Spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Asian-Pacific Region: The Role of the Proliferation Security Initiative

John R. Bolton, Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security
Tokyo American Center, Field Program Design
Tokyo, Japan
October 27, 2004


Ladies and gentleman, distinguished guests, it is an honor to speak to you here today. In particular, I would like to thank the kind support of the Tokyo Foundation in helping us host and arrange this event. Their sponsorship of this speech reflects the warm and growing friendship shared between the United States and Japan. I can say unequivocally today that I can think of no time in our two nation's respective histories when our relationship, indeed our bilateral security alliance, has been stronger. It has been a remarkable year in our relationship with Japan, one which that has shown time and again that we are not just friends, but partners and allies, including in the global war on terror. On the ground, Japan has taken the courageous step to send troops to Iraq to help rebuild a society shattered by decades of Saddam's dictatorial rule. Japan's deployment of its Maritime Self-Defense Forces to the Indian Ocean two years ago in support of operations in Afghanistan is yet another example. It was with this in mind that Ambassador Baker applauded Prime Minister Koizumi's "vision of a confident and outward looking Japan, standing side by side with the United States to deal with the challenges in Iraq and elsewhere."

Yesterday was another momentous occasion in our relationship. Japan proved yet again its commitment to the global war on terror by demonstrating its ability and willingness to use naval assets to counter proliferation. In close coordination with allies and friends around the world, Japan effectively hosted and coordinated Team Samurai 2004, a multinational exercise as part of the Proliferation Security Initiative. Demonstrating the multinational scope of the PSI, a simulated interdiction was carried out in the Pacific near Tokyo Bay. Japan's Coast Guard and Maritime Security Defense Forces, working in coordination with vessels from the United States, Australia, and France, and about a dozen other participants from the region and beyond, demonstrated to would-be proliferators that the spread of weapons of mass destruction will not be tolerated. Japanese forces and law enforcement personnel demonstrated the highest degree of professionalism and prowess at sea, and we appreciate their efforts to make this important exercise a success.

When President Bush announced the Proliferation Security Initiative in Krakow, Poland on May 31, 2003, Japan was with us from the beginning. Japan was with us because it recognized that there is another front in the war on terror--stopping the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them. Recognizing a threat, however, is not enough. We must be prepared to take action as well. To do that effectively, though, requires close cooperation and training with our friends and allies so that when called upon to act, we are ready. Japan's hosting of Team Samurai 2004 demonstrates to the world once again that its friendship and alliance are not based on mere words--but on concrete actions and deeds. Japan continues to play a leadership role in developing cooperation for the PSI both globally and in the region and for that we thank them.

The Vision of PSI

In the year and half since President Bush announced the Proliferation Security Initiative, or PSI, the positive response has been overwhelming. PSI has fostered awareness globally about real, practical steps that can be taken to defeat proliferation and proliferators and 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. PSI participants have made clear from the start that all PSI activities will be taken consistent with national and international legal authorities and international law. Yesterday's maritime interdiction exercise demonstrated that cooperative actions by several countries making maximum use of these authorities will yield results. For Japan, priority was given to respecting its national laws that stress the role of law enforcement in protecting Japan's national security. At the same time Japan worked closely with the U.S., Australian, and French warships that combined military and law enforcement efforts to successfully board a ship suspected of carrying chemical weapons-related items.

In mid-November, PSI participants will further exercise the various legal authorities for carrying out interdictions during Operation Chokepoint hosted by the United States Coast Guard in the Caribbean. PSI participants will test new legal authorities created by a recently signed bilateral boarding agreement that sets out rapid consent procedures for boarding of a treaty partner's flagged vessel. The US has signed such agreements with the two largest registries in the world--Panama and Liberia. We also have an agreement with the Marshall Islands and are talking with some 20 additional countries. Additionally, this exercise will be the first to be held near the Americas and represents the strong consensus shared by most in our hemisphere that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction will not be tolerated.

Proliferation Challenges in Asia

Japan's hosting of Team Samurai 2004 demonstrates clearly the leadership role it is prepared to take in stopping the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It is both fitting and appropriate and needed now more than ever. It was for this reason that Vice President Cheney thanked Japan for "using every instrument of its national power--diplomatic, economic, and military--to defeat the threat to our shared civilization." While Japan is a key partner in the global war on terror, it is also naturally focused on dangers closer to home. The fact that Team Samurai was hosted near Tokyo Bay reflects Japan's recognition that proliferation is not just a distant problem, but one that affects this region as well.

In his annual report to Congress on Worldwide Threat Trends, the Director of Central Intelligence said that today, more than ever, we are watching countries of proliferation concern choose different paths as they calculate the risks versus the gains of pursuing WMD. This risk-benefit analysis is plainly evident in the Asian region, and it is at the heart of our policy to persuade countries and business entities that the risks far outweigh the benefits of dealing in the trade and development of WMD.

Exposure of the A.Q. Khan network this past year--helped along by the PSI interdiction of nuclear materials aboard the BBC China and the subsequent decision of Libya to forego its nuclear and other WMD programs--has brought to light the breadth of the shadowy trading network in WMD. We learned from exposure of Dr. Khan's activities about the role played by front companies, including those operating in Asia. Proliferators of today hide among legitimate businesses, and countries developing the capabilities mask them behind legitimate entities.

There have been other successes as well and I am pleased to report that many countries in the Asia-Pacific region are taking action. Malaysia's crackdown on the illicit activities of Buhany Syed Abu Tahir is a notable example that I can mention in public. Unfortunately, as is often the case when dealing with intelligence related matters, there are many success stories I can't discuss. But while you may not be aware of them--would-be buyers and sellers of weapons of terror are all too aware. We are disrupting their operations, raising their costs of doing business and creating a norm throughout this region which states unequivocally that proliferators are not welcome.

Even when not formally part of a PSI-related activity, we have seen notable successes. As Secretary Powell detailed in a speech last year at Texas A&M University, we are pleased with China's cooperation with the United States to block the export of chemicals that could have been used in North Korea's nuclear weapons programs. Still, China has remained a country of proliferation concern. And as the Secretary noted at the time, our very success in that particular case has now set a much higher standard for Beijing to vigorously enforce its own export controls, as well as for our cooperation. Likewise, Taiwan's interdiction last year of dangerous precursor chemicals destined for North Korea's chemical weapons program is another example of our success. There is much more yet to do.

Sometimes, proliferators hide behind states and governments as well. We often note that PSI is not directed at any one country, but instead at would-be proliferators. As true as this statement is, it would be irresponsible for us to ignore or not acknowledge a threat so close to Japan's shore. Without a doubt, North Korea remains the world's foremost proliferator of ballistic missiles and related technology to rogue states and hostile regimes, and they have even gone so far as to threaten to transfer nuclear materials or weapons. The hard currency North Korea earns from these illicit sales goes directly into funding Kim Jong Il's nuclear weapons program. Moreover, it destabilizes regions around the world, as countries must learn to cope with the threats posed by longer range missiles--missiles specifically designed to carry chemical, biological, or even nuclear warheads. All country's participating in PSI are sending a message to rogue states like North Korea: get out of the proliferation business or risk having your cargoes of terror interdicted, regardless of whether you ship them by land, by air, or by sea.

PSI addresses this threat, and buyers have gotten the message. Libya, for example, has announced that it will cut off all trade in military goods and services with countries of proliferation concern, including North Korea. As a consequence of this and other actions spurred by the United States, I am pleased to report that North Korean missile sales revenues have been hurt substantially. Since the proceeds from North Korea's arms sales go in large part to fund its nuclear weapons program, this is important news indeed.

Work on these challenges in the Asian region is developing momentum, due in large measure to the efforts of the Japanese Government. Last year, Japan began a dialogue among Asian-Pacific countries on the threats posed by proliferation. The Asian Senior Talks on Proliferation, or ASTOP, was a positive initiative by Japan to create a forum for countries in the region to discuss efforts like PSI, ways to impede black market networks that evade legitimate export controls, and other challenges in the region. Since the first ASTOP meeting last November, Asian-Pacific participation in PSI has increased with rapid speed. Russia and Singapore have since become core members of PSI and are playing an active role in interdicting shipments of WMD. Key US major non-NATO allies New Zealand, the Philippines, and Thailand, are actively engaged in PSI activities, and other ASEAN nations are participating in meetings and activities. A number of additional countries from the region continue to study the initiative and review the role their governments might play in addressing the threat posed by proliferation. In short, consensus is growing that more can and must be done to impose consequences on countries and businesses that seek to evade laws to trade in WMD.

PSI partners also expressed support during meetings in Lisbon last spring for President Bush's call during a February speech at the National Defense University 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 revelations of the past year 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.

At the same time we can't engage in active measures like PSI while turning a blind eye to the loopholes of the NPT that allow countries bent on developing nuclear weapons capabilities to do so under the guise of the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The President laid out an agenda listing several areas in which additional action is urgently needed, including addressing the proliferation problems inherent in countries seeking to acquire the complete nuclear fuel cycle and the need for expanded export controls worldwide. At the G-8 Summit at Sea Island last June, the G-8 Leaders endorsed the President's agenda, including closing these loopholes and expanding PSI.

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 in public.

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. Today, more than 60 countries formally support PSI. Dozens of them have participated in or observed at least one of the twelve PSI interdiction exercises that have taken place since September 2003. 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 Japan has helped realize through its early and active participation in PSI and its hosting of Team Samurai 2004 and through the collaborative efforts of the states gathered this week in Japan. This joint effort shows we are making PSI not just a vision, but a reality. On behalf of the United States, I would like to thank Japan and other PSI participants for the increasing leadership role they are playing in the world today. In particular, I would like to thank the people of Japan for the brave decision you have made to act globally and help us confront the challenges we must face together. And should the time come when one day Japan faces challenges on its own shores, know you will not face that challenge alone--the United States will be there. The solid foundation which serves as the core of our friendship and alliance leaves no doubt in my mind that together we will win the global war on terror and put proliferators who trade in death and destruction out of business--permanently.


© Scoop Media

World Headlines


UN: “COVID-19 Is Not Over”, Tedros Warns World Health Assembly

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) told global health Ministers on Sunday that although reported COVID-19 cases and deaths have declined significantly, it is not time to lower the guard... More>>

UN: Bachelet Calls On Mexico To Step Up Efforts As Tragic Milestone Reached Of More Than 100,000 Disappearances

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Tuesday called on the Mexican authorities to step up efforts to ensure truth and justice for victims of disappearances, who now number more than 100,000, according to official data... More>>

ADC: Statement On The Assassination Of Shireen Abu Akleh

Early this morning in Jenin, Occupied Palestine, revered Palestinian voice Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian American journalist for Al Jazeera, was assassinated by Israeli Occupation Forces snipers...

Access Now: Elon Musk’s Twitter Buyout Must Not Come At The Expense Of Human Rights

Following today’s announcement that Elon Musk will acquire complete ownership of Twitter in a cash sale of around 44 billion USD, pending shareholder approval, Access Now urges Twitter’s Board, employees, and shareholders... More>>

UN: Biodiversity And Ecosystem Protection Highlighted On Mother Earth Day

Marking International Mother Earth Day, UN General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid urged on Friday, for collective action to safeguard biodiversity and protect ecosystems... More>>

Ukraine: Hundreds More Reach Safety After Fleeing Besieged Mariupol
In Ukraine, humanitarians said on Wednesday that hundreds of people have managed to reach safety after fleeing Mariupol, where there’s also been condemnation for the killing of Lithuanian filmmaker Mantas Kvedaravicius... More>>