- The Washington Times - Friday, June 10, 2005

Last week Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Intelligence czar John Negroponte met with ambassadors of nations that are members of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) to celebrate its second anniversary and praise its success. Not present was John Bolton, former undersecretary of state and prime mover behind this effort to control the spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Bolton still awaits Senate confirmation of his appointment as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

The PSI is one of the most innovative ideas to come out of Washington in decades. When the Bush administration was criticized for not creating an inclusive coalition on Iraq, John Bolton quietly assembled a coalition of countries committed to stopping the spread of dangerous weapons to irresponsible and unstable regimes and terrorist groups.

The concept was developed at the National Security Council by Ambassador Bob Joseph and his staff and endorsed by Miss Rice, then national security adviser. But the State Department’s Mr. Bolton carried out the difficult creation and implemention by getting countries that disagreed with Washington on Iraq and other issues to follow its lead on this one.

The problem was what to do about North Korea, China and other countries that sold or traded missiles or nuclear, chemical or biological weapons technology. This trade was spreading weapons of mass destruction more widely and increasing the chance they could fall into the hands of terrorists.

Prior administrations tried to deal with the problem through arms-control arrangements and persuasion, including payment of blackmail. This did not work with North Korea, which took hundreds of millions of dollars in food and fuel but secretly continued developing long-range missiles and nuclear weapons.

The initial 10 governments John Bolton got to sign on to the PSI in June 2003 included such staunch U.S. allies as Britain, Australia and Japan. But France and Germany also signed while in profound disagreement with the Bush administration on other matters. The significance of this diplomatic success, which the media largely ignored, cannot be overestimated.

Since that beginning two years ago, more than 60 countries have joined, including Russia, once the world market’s main ballistic missile supplier. Just months after its creation, the PSI helped stop a ship carrying centrifuge parts to Libya. That convinced Moammar Gadhafi to end his chemical and nuclear weapons programs and surrender the large amount of information and equipment his regime had acquired.

That led to rolling up the vast nuclear black market run by Abdul Qadeer Khan, Pakistan’s chief nuclear scientist, who reportedly dealt with some 20 countries prior to his arrest, including China, North Korea and Iran. The breakup of that ring, trading nuclear blueprints and information for money and missile technology, and the Libyan policy change, were major achievements against nuclear proliferation.

The PSI continues to enjoy success. Since its work is based on highly classified intelligence intercepts and other secret information, not much can be said publicly about its accomplishments. But last week Miss Rice revealed that in recent months 10 of our PSI partners have cooperated on 11 successful efforts.

Thanks to the work of John Bolton, the Bush administration has moved beyond appeasing tyrants. Now the administration helps other countries apply international pressure on North Korea and Iran and urge China’s cooperation. Meanwhile, U.S. military and intelligence services and their PSI allies watch for illegal shipments of weapons of mass destruction. If such shipments are suspected, PSI members can stop and board ships and force cargo planes to land.

One would expect arms control organizations to praise this unique achievement — arms control that actually works. But instead, they downplay the initiative. The probable reason is PSI only controls weapons exchanges between bad actors, while arms-control activists seem most eager to limit U.S. weapons.

Very few Washington officials can claim the kind of historic success Mr. Bolton achieved in creating an international coalition to control trade in dangerous weapons.

No one is better suited to represent the United States at the United Nations. The Senate should approve his appointment without further delay.

James T. Hackett is a contributing writer to The Washington Times and is based in Carlsbad, Calif.


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