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News | March 15, 2021

DTRA’s Counter-Proliferation Efforts Support Partners around the Globe

FORT BELVOIR, Va. – The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) uses modest resources to achieve significant returns on investment made in foreign partner agencies that work around the globe to detect, interdict and prosecute illicit shipments of the world’s most dangerous materials. DTRA does so by working outside of the typical military-to-military engagement, employing a whole-of-government approach.

“DTRA is on the front lines of efforts that mitigate, if not eliminate threats posed by hazardous agents and related delivery systems,” stated Mr. David L. Musgrave, director for DTRA’s capacity partnership building efforts. “We address these threats through the global Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) and the International Counter-proliferation Program (ICP).

The Proliferation Security Initiative is a global effort designed to stop weapons of mass destruction (WMD) trafficking, the delivery systems and related materials within proliferator states or from non-state actors.

“The initiative works at the political level among international partners to sustain and advance an international norm, and build related capacities for governments to act on their own behalf to interdict proliferation shipments in their respective regions,” explained Dr. Michael A. Perron, DTRA’s lead official for the Proliferation Security Initiative. “Through endorsement, partners signal their recognition of the WMD proliferation threat and take action to interdict illicit WMD-related transfers to the extent of their capabilities and legal authorities.”

The Agency supports PSI by planning and facilitating worldwide events that convene U.S and allied partners together for tabletop exercises with U.S. Defense Department counter-proliferation subject matter experts. The most recent events include the Southeast Asia Multilateral Workshop in Manila, Philippines and the Balkans Multilateral Workshop in Podgorica, Montenegro. During those sessions, participants developed procedures to facilitate the exchange of information with other countries; strengthened national legal authorities to facilitate interdiction; and established courses of action to support upcoming interdiction efforts.

Since 2003, PSI endorsing countries have held nearly 200 meetings, exercises, and workshops around the globe. More than 107 countries have made political commitments to support the initiative by endorsing the program’s Statement of Interdiction Principles, an agreement that reflects a shared political commitment to strengthen efforts to combat the growing proliferation threat.

The International Counter-proliferation Program (ICP), established by former Secretary of Defense William Perry in 1995, directly addressed concerns about WMD proliferation threats originating from the former Soviet Union and adversarial entities.

“By design, the ICP concept linked DoD assets with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s, Customs Department to build lasting partnerships with foreign partner law enforcement agencies across the globe,” explained Mr. David J. Hall, DTRA’s International Counter-proliferation Program Lead. “This effort was structured to inform foreign partners on the dangers of WMD proliferation and train them on modern threats and techniques to detect and interdict proliferators.”

To date, the program held hundreds of training missions in dozens of countries around the globe, focused on teaching country-partners how to conduct criminal investigations into all types of WMD related crimes ranging from smuggling to illicit finance. In addition, the program supports geographic combatant command’s counter-WMD priorities by conducting more than three dozen Force-capability building engagements per year.

Recent ICP highlights include numerous engagements with law enforcement officials in India, South Africa, Sri Lanka, as well as multilateral engagements with the countries of the Balkan States, the Black Sea region, and major African transshipment hubs.

The Agency’s partnership with India’s law enforcement and customs authorities is a good example of where DTRA has built partner nation capacity to identify and seize potential WMD-related materials. DTRA conducted a series of workshops with Indian partners in late 2019 and early 2020 on topics ranging from identifying proliferation pathways to counterproliferation finance.

In February 2020, India received networked information that a vessel transiting China for Pakistan could possibly contain illicit cargo. Upon seizure, authorities found falsely labeled WMD-related material on the manifest. India subsequently charged the crew with falsifying shipping documents.

“This is a great example of how DTRA’s efforts helped improve a partner nation’s capacity to interdict a shipment of potentially dangerous materials”, explained Musgrave.

While DTRA remains a premier support agency for traditional military-to-military engagements and building the CWMD capability of the Joint Force, the Agency takes great pride in the unique mission space PSI and ICP have to cultivate lasting partnerships, develop political will, and build WMD interdiction and law enforcement capabilities around the world.


DTRA provides cross-cutting solutions to enable the Department of Defense, the United States Government, and international partners to deter strategic attack against the United States and its allies; prevent, reduce, and counter WMD and emerging threats; and prevail against WMD-armed adversaries in crisis and conflict.  

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