The Proliferation Security Initiative

PANAMAX 08 ship boarding exerciseThe Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) was launched in May 2003 in response to the growing challenge posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), their delivery systems and related materials. Participating nations agree to a Statement of Interdiction Principles that includes voluntary political commitments to, inter alia: undertake effective measures to interdict the transport of WMD, their delivery systems and related materials to and from states and non-state actors of proliferation concern; exchange information on suspected proliferation activity to facilitate interdictions; and work to strengthen relevant national counter-proliferation legal authorities where necessary. The PSI is best characterized as an activity rather than an organization and remains a flexible and open mechanism.

Canadian Position

Canada joined the PSI in December 2003. Over 90 other states also participate in the initiative. Canadian participation in the PSI is consistent with, and supportive of, Canada’s emphasis on strengthening counter-proliferation mechanisms to promote regional stability and international security. Canadian participation in the PSI helps us to:

  • Address the threat of WMD proliferation by severing trafficking networks;

  • Develop our domestic response capability to ensure that we can act in a timely and effective manner if/when called upon to do so; and

  • Enhance information sharing with PSI partners on interdiction-related issues

Participation in the PSI demands a multi-disciplinary, whole-of-government approach. DFAIT leads on policy issues, while the Department of National Defence leads on operational issues. Canada has attended every PSI Operational Experts Group (OEG) meeting, in which specialists from 20 core PSI participant-states meet to share information on proliferation trends and potential responses. Canada hosted OEG meetings in Ottawa in April 2004 and in Montreal in December 2006. Canada also actively participates in the PSI exercise programme, which allows states to test their operational capabilities for interdiction on land, sea and air. Through multinational exercises, PSI participants also clearly convey to would-be proliferators their collective determination to combat illicit trafficking in WMD, their means of delivery and related materials.