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Exercise Aimed at Intercepting the North`s WMD Takes Place on Sep. 13 and 14

Exercise Aimed at Intercepting the North`s WMD Takes Place on Sep. 13 and 14

Posted September. 05, 2003 23:24,   


The first joint maritime exercise which aims to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction will be staged on September 13 and 14 in the Coral Sea off Australia`s northeast coast.

The United States and 10 nations that participate in the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) that U.S. President George W. Bush initiated reached an agreement on the exercise after two days of their third round of talks Wednesday and Thursday in Paris, France.

The exercise, however, will get on the nerves of North Korea, which earlier attacked the PSI. North Korea warned last month just before the 6 way talks held in Beijing that PSI is a strategy to isolate its regime and it would step up its nuclear efforts if the U.S. did not drop the exercise. .

Next week`s exercise, in which the United States, Australia, Japan and France will participate, is dubbed the "Pacific Protector." The participating countries will carry out an intensive exercise aimed at intercepting ships suspected of carrying weapons of mass destruction,

The 11 nations` representatives of the talks agreed to conduct an amphibious exercise 10 times altogether until next year. The "Pacific Protector" exercise will be the first of the 10 planned.

The representatives of the talks promised in the closing statement Thursday that they would strengthen cooperation between member countries, activate swift intelligence exchange and, if necessary, amend domestic and international laws to beef up efforts to intercept the transportation of WMD or related materials.

The talks in Paris, following the talks in Madrid, Spain and in Brisbane, Australia, in June and July, set the guidelines for political, legal and technical ways of cooperation in an effort to prevent proliferation and transfer of WMD and the guidelines will be notified to non-member countries of PSI as well, sources said.

John Bolton, Washington`s top arms control official, the most influential figure of the talks, said after the talks that "PSI does not target any particular country, but we have the greatest concerns over North Korea’s nuclear programs."

The first tangible success of PSI cooperation was Taiwan authorities’ interception of a North Korean ship that appeared to have been carrying materials for making chemical weapons.

"The U.S., in particular, hopes China and Russia to participate in the PSI," Bolton added. China, however, is opposed to PSI, saying, "The best way to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is through dialogue." The member nations in PSI are the United States, Japan, France, Britain, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Spain. The next talks of PSI will be held in London, Britain.

Jei-Gyoon Park phark@donga.com