Iran’s short a load of ballistic missile parts today, and maybe some nuclear program material as well. Don’t you wanna know why? It’s because of a thing called the Proliferation Security Initiative. It’s something that ought to be commonplace in the Immedia’s* discussions of WMD proliferation. Needless to say, it ought to get some ink in the MSM as well. And it also ought to be discussed in any undergraduate International Relations course that deals with security issues.
But it’s mainly Bryan Preston at Junkyard Blog who I see flogging this issue. That’s a shame. We don’t know exactly how successful it’s been, but according to the Rice speech linked above, we’re on to something.
See, this isn’t really a treaty so much as an agreement about how and when interested countries are going to cooperate and stop shipments of WMD’s to (or from) rogue states. That’s exactly what we’ve done at least eleven times in the last nine months–once to Iran, whch is the only country we’re certain of. These were interceptions of some bad stuff–in one other case, definitely equipment for producing rocket propellant. What else have these cooperating nations stopped–maybe uranium centrifuges, yellowcake, plutonium, missile guidance systems, a little vial of smallpox, maybe some scavenged cesium ready to be packed around some dynamite for a dirty bomb, who knows–but nothing Iran or Al Qaeda needs more of, right?
And let me just point out that the PSI is, unlike the NPT, designed to keep WMD technology out of the hands of countries that don’t really care for international law. The NPT is fine if you are worried about non-rogue states. If Iceland decided it might need a nuclear arsenal, it might be stopped by the fact that it had signed the NPT (I assume they have; I’m too lazy to check) and made a commitment to the international community not to go nuclear. But if it didn’t, well, it’s still frickin’ Iceland. I’d rather they didn’t have H-bombs riding on their ICBM’s, but even if they do, if there’s (God forbid) a bright flash where Times Square used to be, the first place I look for the culprit is not going to be Iceland.
But rogue states–“states of concern” in the PSI’s parlance–are states that either never joined the NPT regime, left it (like the DPRK), or are cheating on it like a Kennedy on a blind wife (Iran). They don’t care about international law except insofar as it legitimizes and protects their regimes. Iran’s signature on the NPT does not reassure me. And subnational groups–e.g., Al Qaeda, the Russian Mob, aren’t reached by the NPT at all. The PSI, however, demands that states take action in intercepting their efforts to acquire WMDs.
In other words, the PSI has actually, provably, on eleven occasions in the last nine months, kept WMD’s out of the hands of either rogue states or subnational criminal or terrorist groups who were trying to acquire them. Which is a hell of a lot more than the much-vaunted NPT has done.
The other really interesting thing is that the sixty or so other parties to the PSI aren’t really public knowledge (though I’ll bet we could guess a few of them). Believe it or not, there are some countries out there that don’t want to be seen working too closely with the United States. But these countries also don’t necessarily want certain rogue nations getting ahold of a nuclear program. So we’ve come up with a remarkably subtle arrangement here that permits states not to get their name in the paper, and not to make some drastic permanent allegiance of fealty to the NPT regime. In other words, the blundering, bull-in-a-china-shop Bush administration has found a way to accommodate our allies’ interests in stopping proliferation while respecting their delicate domestic political situations. Countries that wouldn’t be caught dead supporting our policies…are supporting our policies.
And when I say the Bush administration has arranged this masterpiece, I’m especially referring to the one person usually dubbed the “architect” of the PSI: John Bolton.
Confirm him, and damn George Voinovich’s tears. “…we need friends all over the world, we need somebody up there who’s gonna be able to get the job done.” I couldn’t agree more, George.
h/t to Little Green Footballs.
* “Immedia” is my word for all the fast-acting electronic media–blogs, aggregators like Fark or Drudge, magazines like NRO or Slate, and big tribal watchamacallits like Freep and DU, as opposed to the MSM.