Note to CFR.org: BBC China =/= PSI Op

Eben Kaplan wrote “a piece”:http://www.cfr.org/publication/11061/preventing_ballistic_surprises.html a few weeks ago about the PSI. Overall, it’s not bad. But it contains an all-too-frequent error.

He wrote:

bq. Among the PSI’s most notable successes was the 2003 interception of a shipment of nuclear centrifuge parts from the A.Q. Khan network to Libya.

Bzzzt. The BBC China wasn’t a PSI operation. I blogged about this before “here.”:http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/624/psi-lacks-sweet-libya-skills As an aside, David Sanger recently made the same mistake “in this piece,”:http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=FB0F14FC34540C768DDDAE0894DE404482 calling the interdiction the PSI’s “best-known success.”

Interestingly, Ron Suskind’s “new book”:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0743271092/sr=8-1/qid=1154120532/ref=pd_bbs_1/104-0701527-6319916?ie=UTF8 contains an account of the CIA’s involvement in the Libyan disarmament effort. Essentially, Suskind reports that the CIA had turned Urs Tinner, who then told the agency about the shipment. Not a PSI operation.

To be fair, the BBC China mistake doesn’t really affect what appears to be Kaplan’s main argument, which is that intelligence-sharing and interdiction are good.

But it does call into question the PSI’s effectiveness for the simple reason that the Bush administration hasn’t been offering any specific evidence that the initiative works. That’s kind of a big deal, especially given that the Bush administration has pushed PSI as a substitute for arms control.

OK, stop being a dork and go do whatever it is you do…

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