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S. Korea to Lead PSI Drill

Posted October. 08, 2010 11:31,   


For the first time since the launch of the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative, South Korea will lead a two-day drill in the initiative from Wednesday in waters off the coast of Busan. The initiative was begun in June 2003 by the U.S. to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and 97 countries have joined. South Korea delayed its entry to prevent angering North Korea though the former recognized the importance of the initiative for global safety and peace. On May 26 last year, however, Seoul said it would take part in the initiative a day after Pyongyang conducted its second nuclear test. Though belated, the latest drill will send a clear signal to the North that the South will fulfill its international duty to protect the world from the threat of WMDs and no longer tolerate the North’s provocations such as the sinking of the South Korean naval warship Cheonan.

Pyongyang blasted Seoul for joining the initiative, with the North Korean military saying, “(South Korea’s) participation in the initiative is tantamount to blocking waters, an act prohibited under the armistice.” It added, “The Korean Peninsula will soon be at war.” The initiative, however, seeks to block illegal transactions of WMDs, their delivery vehicles and related materials. Legal commercial trade at sea is also not subject to enforcement of the initiative. If the North wants to keep threatening the South over the drill, it should also attack Russia for joining.

Based on U.S. intelligence, the Spanish navy in December 2002 searched the North Korean vessel Sosan on its way to Yemen and discovered 15 Scud missiles. This led the U.S. to launch the initiative to stop the proliferation of WMDs. Despite this, the North has attempted to conduct illegal arms trade several times. In this sense, the South should not have delayed its entry into the initiative.

North Korea’s heir apparent Kim Jong Un chose a military base in Anbyon, Kangwon Province, to make his first official visit after becoming successor. The North fired numerous long-range missiles from the base in July last year. Pyongyang will mark the 65th anniversary of its ruling Workers’ Party Sunday and Seoul will host the G20 summit next month. Against this backdrop, the North is likely to launch provocations against the South to strengthen its “military-first” politics to smoothly carry out its anachronistic father-to-son power transfer and also destabilize the South. So if Seoul fails to thoroughly prepare for a provocation, another Cheonan incident is possible.

The U.S.-led initiative was planned to militarily respond to the North’s attack on the Cheonan. Pyongyang opposes the exercise but Seoul must not flinch at this opposition. The drill will deter the North from committing provocations by showing the South’s strong determination to militarily respond to any provocation.