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Seoul to Join PSI, P’yang Fires 2 More Missiles

Posted May. 27, 2009 09:02,   


South Korea yesterday announced that it will join the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative, a day after North Korea conducted a second nuclear test.

South Korean Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry spokesman Moon Tae-young said in a statement, “The government has decided to approve the principle of PSI effective May 26, 2009, to cope with the serious threat posed by weapons of mass destruction and proliferation of missiles to world peace and security.”

“However, the Seoul government will keep a maritime agreement between the two Koreas.”

South Korea will be the 95th country to join the initiative, which was begun in May 2003 to block the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Seoul had been waiting to choose the timing for its entry after deciding in principle to uphold the U.S.-led campaign.

As the North violated U.N. Security Council Resolution 1718 with its nuclear test, the South unexpectedly made the decision to join the initiative in a meeting of national security officials yesterday morning.

Presidential official spokesman Lee Dong-kwan said, “North Korea conducted a nuclear test larger in scale and fired missiles, and thus no cause or justification can further delay the timing of Seoul’s PSI participation.”

Following the national security meeting, President Lee Myung-bak informed U.S. President Barack Obama of Seoul’s decision to join the initiative in a 20-minute phone conversation. The two leaders agreed to work together to counter North Korea’s nuclear threat.

Welcoming the decision, President Obama said he believes the Security Council needs a strong resolution against North Korea.

President Lee also talked on the phone to Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Both leaders agreed that the international community needs a more practical response to North Korea’s nuclear program.

In apparent retaliation after threatening to consider Seoul’s participation in the initiative as a declaration of war, Pyongyang yesterday afternoon fired two short-range missiles toward the East Sea from a site near Hamhung, South Hamkyong Province.

The missiles were reportedly surface-to-air and surface-to-ship missiles with a range of 130 kilometers each. They were fired after Seoul’s announcement, and thus attention is on how Pyongyang will express its anger over the move.

The South Korean military is closely monitoring whether the North is preparing for more launches of short-range missiles in the West Sea. A military source said, “The North already declared May 25-27 a ban on vessels in the West Sea near Chungsan County in South Pyongan Province.”

Back in Seoul, Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan testified at the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee yesterday. “I understand the nuclear weapon tested was about three to four times more powerful than those used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan,” he said, referring to the North’s nuclear test Monday.

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