Commemorating 20th anniversary of Proliferation Security Initiative

Heads of Delegation assemble for a photo at the 20th anniversary PSI HLPM in Jeju, May 30. Photo courtesy of the PSI HLPM Secretariat
Heads of Delegation assemble for a photo at the 20th anniversary PSI HLPM in Jeju, May 30. Photo courtesy of the PSI HLPM Secretariat

By P. Tanner Acker

Jeju Island—just south of the Korean peninsula—was the setting for the 20th anniversary High-Level Political Meeting (HLPM) of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), May 30. 

“In the face of [North Korea’s] unprecedented nuclear and missile provocations, this meeting holds real meaning,” said South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol in a video message. 

President Joe Biden, in a statement read by Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Bonnie Jenkins, urged those gathered at the HLPM to “continue to demonstrate our resolve to countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction—including by implementing the PSI Statement of Interdiction Principles.”

Senior representatives from 68 PSI-endorsing states and two observer states attended the HLPM. The meeting was co-chaired by the Republic of Korea (ROK), the United States, and Australia, and included three sessions focused on reviewing the actions by states over the past 20 years pursuant to their PSI commitments; current proliferation challenges; and providing political direction for PSI for the next five years.

The following day, participants attended this year’s iteration of the annual PSI Asia-Pacific Exercise Rotation event, Exercise Eastern Endeavor ‘23. Participants boarded the ROK amphibious assault ship ROKS Marado to witness the integrated capacities of partner nations in stopping illegal shipments during a live, at-sea demonstration. 

An academic session with a facilitated tabletop exercise followed the demonstration, June 1. The event was capped by the annual 20-nation PSI Operational Experts Group Meeting, June 2, to discuss the initial development of an action plan to implement outcomes from the HLPM.

Since its inception in 2003, the PSI has grown into a vital component of the global framework to prevent weapons of mass destruction (WMD) proliferation, with 106 states endorsing and participating in the initiative. The national commitments states make by endorsing the PSI Statement of Interdiction Principles—and the actions taken to fulfill those commitments—remain vital elements of these states’ common efforts to counter the spread of WMD and their delivery systems to state and non-state actors that threaten international peace and security.

Commander P. Tanner Acker is a Naval officer serving as a military advisor in the Office of Counterproliferation Initiatives.

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