Miami Beach Party

By John Liang / May 13, 2009 at 5:00 AM

U.S. Southern Command and the Office of the Secretary of Defense this week are hosting a conference in Miami "to address the illicit trade of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and related materials," SOUTHCOM announced today. Gary Samore, White House coordinator for arms control and WMD terrorism, delivered the keynote speech to attendees yesterday, according to the SOUTHCOM statement:

"President Obama has pledged to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons," said Samore. "However, we cannot achieve this objective if, while we are seeking to rid ourselves of nuclear weapons and other forms of weapons of mass destruction, others are pursuing their acquisition with equal if not greater vigor. It is for this reason that the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) remains a critical component of international nonproliferation policy."

The meeting includes the participation of experts from around the world in an effort to share best practices and strengthen capabilities among countries that share a commitment to the Proliferation Security Initiative. PSI is a global effort to stop trafficking WMD, its delivery systems, and related materials to and from states and non-state actors of proliferation concern.

Thirty-four countries are attending the meeting in downtown Miami. The U.S. last hosted a PSI Operational Experts Group Meeting three years ago with representatives from 20 nations. Today, more than 90 nations support PSI including the following from the Western Hemisphere: U.S., Canada, Argentina, the Bahamas, Belize, Chile, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, and Paraguay.

The multinational meeting provides a venue to enhance the WMD interdiction capabilities, organize PSI exercises to improve interoperability, and strengthen security relationships in the region and around the world.

Ambassador Paul Trivelli, Civilian Deputy to the Commander and Foreign Policy Adviser at U.S. Southern Command, is scheduled to address the delegates in attendance Thursday.

"Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States share a collective interest in preventing the proliferation of WMD in our hemisphere," said Trivelli, former U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua, commenting on the importance of this week's event. "Regional PSI events like the meetings and training exercises SOUTHCOM hosts help us to better coordinate efforts to interdict trafficking and shut down the networks that profit from illicit trade."