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Korea Mulls Joining PSI

Posted November. 04, 2006 03:22,   


The government is planning to formally participate in the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), but not to conduct inspections and seizures of North Korean vessels in its territorial waters, sources said on Friday.

The government is also planning to provide material support for PSI interdiction exercises both onshore and offshore.

The government and the ruling Uri Party discussed last week at Cheong Wa Dae over the degree of involvement in the PSI. Diplomatic and security ministers and lawmakers including Kang Bong-kyun, the chief of Uri Party’s policy committee, participated in the talk.

The government reportedly suggested that South Korea should formally participate in the PSI while sticking to the inter-Korean maritime agreement on North Korean vessels passing through its territorial waters.

The inter-Korean agreement stipulates that South Korea is authorized to intercept, board and inspect North Korean vessels suspected of carrying weapons or weapon parts.

However, none of the approximately 140 North Korean vessels, which have passed through South Korean territorial waters since the maritime agreement went into effect in August 2005, were ordered to stop or inspected.

If a country officially participates in the PSI, the country requires intercepting and arresting ships suspected of delivering weapons of mass destruction or related parts in its territorial waters. So if South Korea continues to follow the inter-Korean maritime agreement, virtually nothing will change even after it joins the PSI.

Participants of the PSI can search and seize vessels whose nationality are not identified or flying their national flag in their territorial waters, along with vessels suspected of piracy, human trafficking, and illegal radio broadcasting. The government has also reportedly decided not to inspect and capture North Korean vessels on the high sea.

Although Kang acknowledged the reported decision of the government, he said, “We haven’t been able to draw up a conclusion yet because opinions were split over the participation of the PSI at the general meeting of Uri Party lawmakers held on Friday.”

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