US-Cyprus sign PSI cooperation agreement
Washington D.C., Jul 25 - The Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) Ship Boarding Agreement, signed on Monday in Washington between Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs George Iacovou and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, will facilitate cooperation between the two countries to prevent the maritime transfer of proliferation-related shipments by establishing points of contact and procedures to expedite requests to board and search suspect vessels in international waters.
The State Department also points out in a press release that ''Cyprus is the world's sixth largest ship registry by gross tonnage and the first EU member state to sign such an agreement with the US.''
State Department's press release on PSI
''Signing the ship boarding agreement demonstrates the commitment of Cyprus and the US to ensuring the highest standards of security for their flag registries. This reciprocal agreement also sends a clear message to proliferators that neither the US nor Cyprus will tolerate the involvement of their vessels in the trade of proliferation-related cargoes,'' it says.
Diplomatic sources have told CNA that in the preamble of the agreement, there is a reference to UN Security Council resolutions 541 and 550, which inter alia deplore the declaration of the self-styled regime in the Turkish occupied areas of the Republic and call on all UN members not to facilitate or support in any way the secessionist entity.
The PSI aims at establishing cooperative partnerships worldwide to prevent the flow of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems, and related materials to and from states and non-state actors of proliferation concern.
The ship boarding agreement signed by the US and Cyprus ''will facilitate cooperation between the two countries to prevent the maritime transfer of proliferation-related shipments by establishing points of contact and procedures to expedite requests to board and search suspect vessels in international waters,'' according to the press release.
It adds that ''if a US or Cypriot-flagged vessel is suspected of carrying proliferation-related cargo, either party to this agreement can request the other to confirm the nationality of the ship in question and, if needed, to authorise the boarding, search, and possible detention of the vessel and its cargo,'' noting that the agreement does not apply to the vessels of third states.