[EDITORIALS]Join the world, join the PSI

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[EDITORIALS]Join the world, join the PSI

The South Korean government is in a dilemma as to whether it should join the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative or not.
Those opposing participation give two reasons.
First, they say, the possibility of a conflict with North Korea will increase.
Second, they say, the South could apply the inter-Korean maritime agreement, which is already in effect, and that has the same effect as participation.
Under that agreement, they said, the South can stop and inspect a North Korean ship suspected of transporting weapons components.
Such claims are extremely shortsighted. The United States and Japan have vowed to implement the Proliferation Security Initiative sternly. The possible conflict with the North already exists. Therefore, whether South Korea participates or not, it is inevitable that tensions will escalate.
The UN Security Council resolution and the Proliferation Security Initiative are intended to change the North’s attitude by pressuring Pyongyang through international cooperation.
The inter-Korean maritime agreement, however, focuses on issues between the two Koreas. It does not reflect the intention of international cooperation.
Furthermore, more than140 North Korean ships have sailed through the Korea Strait since May of last year, and not a single inspection has taken place. It is easy to guess how the international community sees the implementation of the inter-Korean agreement. That agreement also lacks clauses regarding seizures and internments, thus it is not an effective sanctions measure.
If South Korea officially rejects joining the Proliferation Security Initiative based on such a smattering of excuses, Seoul will fail to make a contribution toward resolving the nuclear crisis and will be isolated in the international community.
South Korea should also join the initiative in terms of its alliance with the United States. Providing a partner’s most urgent need is part of a true alliance. Washington’s priority on its North Korean policy is stopping the North’s proliferation of nuclear arms and materials. That’s why the United States has strongly requested that South Korea take part in the Proliferation Security Initiative.
Seoul, which recently asked the United States for a strong affirmation of its nuclear umbrella, is now trying to ignore Washington’s earnest request.
Isn’t it apparent what the United States will think of that?
South Korea should declare its participation in the Proliferation Security Initiative and consult with the United States closely to avoid any decisions that may escalate tensions unnecessarily.
One example might be a third country’s implementation of the initiative, when a North Korean ship is not in the waters off the Korean Peninsula.
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