Wednesday, July 27, 2005
The United States and the Republic of Cyprus signed a reciprocal Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) Ship Boarding Agreement.
Cypriot Foreign Minister Georgios Iacovou signed the agreement on behalf of Cyprus. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signed on behalf of the United States. The Proliferation Security Initiative was announced by President Bush on May 31, 2003, and is aimed at establishing cooperative partnerships worldwide to prevent the flow of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems, and related materials to and from states and non-state actors of proliferation concern. Proliferation Security Initiative partners marked the recent second anniversary of the Initiative through a series of activities, including an exercises in the Czech Republic and Spain and an event hosted by Secretary Rice on May 31 for the Washington diplomatic corps. The ship boarding agreement signed by the U.S. and Cyprus will facilitate cooperation between the two countries to prevent the maritime transfer of proliferation-related shipments by establishing points of contact and procedures to expedite requests to board and search suspect vessels in international waters. If a U.S.- or Cypriot-flagged vessel is suspected of carrying proliferation-related cargo, either Party to this agreement can request the other to confirm the nationality of the ship in question and, if needed, to authorize the boarding, search, and possible detention of the vessel and its cargo. The agreement does not apply to the vessels of third states. Cyprus is the world’s sixth largest ship registry by gross tonnage and the first European Union member state to sign such an agreement with the U.S. Today’s Proliferation Security Initiative Ship Boarding Agreement is our fifth – following ones with Liberia, Panama, the Marshall Islands and Croatia. The combination of states with which we have boarding agreements and Proliferation Security Initiative partner commitments means that more than 60 percent of the global commercial shipping fleet dead weight tonnage is now subject to rapid action consent procedures for boarding, search, and seizure. Signing the ship boarding agreement demonstrates the commitment of Cyprus and the United States to ensuring the highest standards of security for their flag registries. This reciprocal agreement also sends a clear message to proliferators that neither the U.S. nor Cyprus will tolerate the involvement of their vessels in the trade of proliferation-related cargoes. We believe that Proliferation Security Initiative ship boarding agreements simultaneously deter proliferators and attract legitimate commercial shipping interests that want to ensure their goods are transported under a reputable and responsible flag, which is not "misused" to transport illicit proliferation-related shipments.