News / Asia

South Korea Leads Maritime Training on Intercepting Illegal Weapons

US Apache helicopter fires rocket during joint military exercise between South Korea and United States at US firing Rodriguez Range in Pocheon, south of the demilitarized zone that divides two Koreas, 13 Oct. 2010.
US Apache helicopter fires rocket during joint military exercise between South Korea and United States at US firing Rodriguez Range in Pocheon, south of the demilitarized zone that divides two Koreas, 13 Oct. 2010.

South Korea for the first time is leading a multinational maritime exercise under the Proliferation Security Initiative, known as PSI. The program is intended to intercept illicit weapons and materials to make weapons of mass destruction. Seoul had initially been reluctant to join such drills to avoid antagonizing Pyongyang.

The two-day naval drill is taking place in the waters near the South Korean city of Busan.

South Korean defense officials stress the exercise is not targeting any particular nation. But Carl Baker, director of programs at the Center for Strategic and International Studies' Pacific Forum, in the U.S. state of Hawaii, says one country is in mind.

"Clearly the South Koreans, in this case, are targeting the North Koreans to send a message to North Korea, and clearly North Korea has been one of the countries that have been involved in proliferation activities," Baker said.

North Korea says South Korea's participation violates the 1953 armistice on the peninsula because it is tantamount to blocking sea lanes. After Seoul joined PSI last year, Pyongyang angrily proclaimed it "a declaration of war."

South Korea's military, for the first time is leading a PSI drill with two naval torpedo destroyers, a pair of landing ships and four submarines.

The U.S. Navy has sent a guided missile destroyer. Japan's Maritime Self Defense Force has dispatched a destroyer and helicopters. An Australian maritime patrol plane also is participating, while other countries have sent observers.

Nearly 100 countries have joined the loose PSI coalition since its inception seven years ago. Its goal is to find and stop illegal shipments of weapons of mass destruction and their components, or other contraband.

South Korea was initially reluctant to participate, because of Seoul's policy of trying to engage more closely with North Korea.

It fully joined after North Korea detonated a second nuclear device last year. International arms proliferation experts say Pyongyang has both sold and purchased banned weapons in the past.

Baker says this year's sinking of a South Korean naval vessel, for which North Korea is blamed, led to this exercise.

"The provocation by North Korea in sinking the ship, I think, convinced South Korea that it was time to be a bit more assertive and much more willing to cooperate in a multilateral setting to demonstrate a willingness to deal with proliferation activity," Baker said.

On Thursday, officials from several PSI countries, including Argentina, Canada, Chile, France, Italy, New Zealand, South Korea, Spain, Turkey and the U.S. will discuss collaborating on ship interdictions.

You May Like

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

Nigerians Await New President With High Hopes

When pomp and circumstance of inauguration end in Abuja, Buhari will sit down to the hard task of governing Nigeria More

India's Restrictions on Several NGOs Raise Concerns

Political analysts link recent clampdown on advocacy groups to report last year that said foreign-funded NGO’s negatively impact economic development More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs