On August 11, in Nassau U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kirsten Madison and Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Bahamas T. Brent Symonette signed a bilateral shipboarding agreement as part of the Proliferation Security Initiative or PSI. This is the ninth such agreement signed by the United States.
The Bahamas has the world's third largest ship registry, measured by gross tonnage. This agreement is an important indication of the Bahamas commitment to combating the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction by ensuring that Bahamian vessels are not abused by proliferators.
The PSI shipboarding agreement will facilitate cooperation between the United States and the Bahamas to prevent illicit shipments of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems, or related materials. It establishes procedures for obtaining approval for boarding and searching vessels suspected of carrying such items while in international waters.
During the signing ceremony, Mr. Symonette underscored the significance of the agreement. "As the third largest ship registry in the world, The Bahamas has significant responsibility in protecting the commercial interests of its mercantile shipping industry, whilst doing its part to make sure that those companies registered under its flag remain safe and secure," Mr. Symonette said. Assistant Secretary Madison added that the new procedures in the agreement will enhance considerably our security bilaterally and contribute to a more secure world.
More than ninety countries on six continents are PSI participants, having endorsed the PSI Statement of Interdiction Principles. The initiative is a response to the growing challenge posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems, and related materials worldwide. The PSI compliments other efforts by the international community to prevent proliferation of such items, including existing treaties and regimes.