HL Deb 27 October 2003 vol 654 cc9-10WA
Lord Hoyle

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What was discussed at the Proliferation Security Initiative meeting on 9–10 October in London. [HL4991]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean

Members of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) met on 9–10 October in London. Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States took part in the meeting. The London meeting built on the firm foundations laid during earlier meetings in Madrid, Brisbane and Paris.

The PSI aims to expand capabilities to conduct maritime, aviation and land interdiction operations in order to help counter the threat of WMD proliferation. At the Paris meeting, PSI participants agreed a statement of interdiction principles, outlining the aims and scope of the initiative, and making clear that all action will be in accordance with international law. Following its publication, we have been drawing governments' attention to, and eliciting support for, the statement.

At the London meeting, we analysed the responses to date. So far the results have been very good: over 50 countries have already expressed support for the PSI. We hope to build on this over the coming weeks and months. WMD proliferation is a global threat: we need to encourage a global response.

The London meeting also agreed a short statement on the focus of the PSI efforts. This makes clear that the initiative does not target any particular country— there are no blacklists—but aims to impede and stop trafficking of WMD, their delivery systems and related materials by any state or non-state actor engaged in or supporting WMD proliferation programmes, at any time and in any place.

The PSI is a global initiative with an inclusive mission. It is an activity, not an organisation. Successful interdiction of trafficking in WMD, their delivery systems and related materials requires the widest possible co-operation between states. It was agreed at the London meeting that participation in the PSI should be open to any state or international body that accepts the Paris statement of interdiction principles and makes an effective contribution. Participation will vary with the activity taking place, and the contribution participants could provide. Some countries have particular experience, assets or expertise relevant to all PSI activities; other countries or organisations could be expected to contribute according to their particular capabilities. I hope that we can therefore ensure as wide participation in the initiative as practically possible, including—where appropriate—contributions from the EU and NATO.

The London meeting also developed further a series of interdiction training exercises, which will be taken forward over the coming months.

In short, we have agreed the broad direction of the PSI. We now have to work to fill in the detail. In doing so, we are keen for the PSI to be an open and transparent process. As such, the chairman's summary was agreed as a public document, and is available on the FCO website at www.fco.gov.uk/ internationalsecuritv, under the heading "Counter-Proliferation".

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