- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 2, 2005

On Dec. 19, 2003, just five days after former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was pulled from a spider hole by American soldiers, President Bush made another noteworthy announcement about another rogue-state dictator: that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi had decided to end his nuclear-, chemical- and biological-weapons programs. One major factor in Col. Gadhafi’s decision was the Proliferation Security Initiative, an effort begun by the Bush administration in May 2003 to interdict shipments of weapons of mass destruction and related components around the world.

Clearly, Col. Gadhafi concluded that continuing with his weapons of mass destruction programs would jeopardize his continued rule by incurring Washington’s wrath, and he has cited his desire not to be driven from power like Saddam as reason for getting out of the WMD business. But PSI’s success no doubt played a very important role as well. On Oct. 4, 2003, an American warship forced the BBC China, a German-flagged vessel travelling to Libya, to divert to Italy. Investigators found uranium-enrichment equipment bound for Libya on that ship. The discovery of the covert Libyan nuclear program led to the uncovering of the nuclear-weapons supplier network headed by Abdul Qadeer Khan of Pakistan. Several months later, Mr. Khan went on television to confess how his network supplied illicit material to such nations as Libya, North Korea and Iran in exchange for missile technology and money.

In announcing Col. Gadhafi’s decision to end his WMD programs, Mr. Bush alluded to the role that PSI now plays in interdicting WMD-related items in transit. The president cited it as an important component of strategy “by the United States and our allies” that has “sent an unmistakable message to regimes that seek or possess weapons of mass destruction. Those weapons do not bring influence or prestige. They bring isolation and otherwise unwelcome consequences.”

The president added: “Another message should be equally clear: Leaders who abandon the pursuit of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, and the means to deliver them, will find an open path to better relations with the United States and other free nations.”

Core participants in PSI include the governments of the United States, Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Greece, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Spain and Thailand. Three other core participants are Russia, France and Germany — staunch opponents of the war in Iraq. A United Nations report has endorsed PSI. Altogether, 60 nations are supporting the principals of PSI.

Perhaps the most energetic advocate is Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton. Mr. Bolton has been characteristically blunt in explaining what PSI will and will not do. In an interview with Arms Control Today, Mr. Bolton was asked if PSI would go beyond targeting rogue states, and would go after friendly countries like Israel, India and Pakistan. “There are unquestionably states that are not within existing treaty regimes that possess weapons of mass destruction legitimately. We’re not trying to have a policy that attempts to cover each and every one of those circumstances,” Mr. Bolton replied. “What we’re worried about are the rogue states [such as Iran and North Korea] and terrorist groups that pose the most immediate threat.”

With PSI, the administration has its priorities straight.

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