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Neighboring Countries Compete for Military Maneuvers

Posted August. 19, 2003 21:34,   


The United States pointed out North Korea as the most serious proliferator of weapons of mass destruction and announced Monday its plans for joint naval exercises next month in the Western Pacific off northeastern Australia. A total of 11 member countries of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) will join, including the U.S. Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and England.

U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said that President George W. Bush and other leaders will join the military maneuvers in an effort to carry out the PSI announced in Poland this May. “The first such exercise will be hosted by Australia and focus on maritime interdiction. We expect this to be followed with others in the Mediterranean and the Arabian Sea,” he added.

The first target of a series of such joint exercises is the North that has been heightening the nuclear crisis. “The move is intended to pressure the North into giving up its nuclear development program, ahead of the six-way talks,” said the Japanese Sankei Shimbun. “It’s rather a practical maneuver keeping North Korea in mind.”

Along with this, South Korea and the U.S. are checking their military deployment and cooperative arrangements in case of emergency through the Eulji Focus training that started on Aug. 18.

The U.S. has been joining in annual trainings with the Japanese Self-defense Force and participating in other military maneuvers with Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines.

Russia embarked on a massive 10-day maritime exercise in waters near North Korea. This is the first large-scale maneuver conducted in the Far East since the collapse of the Soviet Union, involving 110 warships, 50 warplanes, and 30,000 military forces,.

Japan and South Korea will also take part in the joint maneuvers with their own warships and planes while North Korea, China, and Canada are invited to observe. The U.S., uncomfortable with the North, sent one warship instead of joining.

The exercises, in which all the participants of the six-nation talks will join, reportedly include emergency plans in case North Korean refugees flood into other countries of the Far East.

In addition, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), made up of six nations including China, Russia, and Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, conducted joint exercises on the borders between China and Russia early this month.

Russia says the maritime exercise is intended to crack down on terrorism and contraband whereas the SCO announced the training was conducted to tackle terrorism of Islamic radicals.

A Japanese military expert, however, said that their real intentions are to maintain their security influence in eastern Asia against the U.S-led military maneuvers.