Success and expansion of Proliferation Security Initiative dependent on U.S. ratification of UNCLOS
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On this specific point, it is worth looking at the example of the President’s Proliferation Security Initiative, or PSI. PSI began in May 2003, when 10 like- minded countries joined the United States to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems, and related materials. Those 11 countries endorsed a series of PSI founding principles, including two essential principles from an operational perspective: One, that all States have broad domestic authorities to act against proliferators and, two, that acting cooperatively, they can use those authorities and international law---including the Law of the Sea Convention--- to prevent proliferation. The Law of the Sea Convention recognizes numerous legal bases for taking action against vessels suspected of engaging in proliferation activities, including port State control measures, flag State authority, and the right of warships to approach and visit commercial vessels.
In just four years, PSI has expanded from its original 11 partner-nations to almost 90, and we have had specific operational successes in preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction under PSI. However, our failure to be a Party to the Law of the Sea Convention is limiting further expansion of PSI. Critically important democratic Pacific countries have indicated a desire to support our counter-proliferation efforts, but they tell us that so long as we are not a Party to the Law of the Sea Convention, they will not be able to convince their legislatures to endorse PSI. How, they ask us, can they convince their legislatures that PSI interdiction activities will only occur in accordance with international law including the Law of the Sea Convention, when the leading PSI nation, the United States, refuses to become a party to the Convention?