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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Cyprus, U.S. Sign Counterproliferation Ship-boarding Pact

25 July 2005

New agreement does not apply to third-party states' vessels

The United States and Cyprus concluded a ship-boarding agreement July 25 as part of the ongoing two-year-old Proliferation Security Initiative to create cooperative partnerships to prevent weapons of mass destruction, WMD delivery systems and related materials from reaching states and nonstate actors of proliferation concern.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Cypriot Foreign Minister Georgios Iacovou signed the agreement that will permit either country to confirm the nationality of an American or Cypriot-flagged ship if it is thought to be carrying a WMD-related cargo.  The agreement also allows either side to authorize its flagged vessel to be boarded, its cargo searched, and even for the vessel and suspect cargo to be detained.

The new agreement does not, however, apply to third-party vessels.

This agreement is significant because Cyprus is the world’s sixth-largest ship registry measured by gross tonnage of registered ships.

Cyprus is also the first member of the European Union to sign such an agreement with the United States.

The reciprocal agreement is designed to send the message to potential proliferators that neither nation will tolerate the use of its ships for proliferation-related trade.

Cyprus is the fifth country to sign a ship-boarding agreement with the United States.  Previous agreements have been concluded with Liberia, Panama, the Marshall Islands and Croatia.

For more information, see “The Proliferation Security Initiative.” 

Following is the text of the Cyprus-U.S. agreement:

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Office of the Spokesman
July 25, 2005

Media Note

The United States and the Republic of Cyprus Proliferation Security Initiative Ship Boarding Agreement

On Monday, July 25, 2005, the United States and the Republic of Cyprus signed a reciprocal Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) Ship Boarding Agreement.  Cypriot Foreign Minister Georgios Iacovou signed the agreement on behalf of Cyprus.  Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signed on behalf of the United States.

The Proliferation Security Initiative was announced by President Bush on May 31, 2003, and is aimed 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.  Proliferation Security Initiative partners marked the recent second anniversary of the Initiative through a series of activities, including an exercises in the Czech Republic and Spain and an event hosted by Secretary Rice on May 31 for the Washington diplomatic corps.

The ship boarding agreement signed by the U.S. 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.  If a U.S.- 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 authorize the boarding, search, and possible detention of the vessel and its cargo.  The agreement does not apply to the vessels of third states.

Cyprus is the world's sixth largest ship registry by gross tonnage and the first European Union member state to sign such an agreement with the U.S.  Today's Proliferation Security Initiative Ship Boarding Agreement is our fifth -- following ones with Liberia, Panama, the Marshall Islands and Croatia.  The combination of states with which we have boarding agreements and Proliferation Security Initiative partner commitments means that more than 60 percent of the global commercial shipping fleet dead-weight tonnage is now subject to rapid action consent procedures for boarding, search, and seizure.

Signing the ship boarding agreement demonstrates the commitment of Cyprus and the United States to ensuring the highest standards of security for their flag registries.  This reciprocal agreement also sends a clear message to proliferators that neither the U.S. nor Cyprus will tolerate the involvement of their vessels in the trade of proliferation-related cargoes.  We believe that Proliferation Security Initiative ship boarding agreements simultaneously deter proliferators and attract legitimate commercial shipping interests that want to ensure their goods are transported under a reputable and responsible flag, which is not "misused" to transport illicit proliferation-related shipments.

For additional information on the Proliferation Security Initiative, please see

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(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

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