South Korea has sent a delegation to observe a US-led anti-proliferation
exercise, the Foreign Ministry said today.
It comes despite Seoul's reluctance to fully participate in an initiative that
could antagonise its northern neighbour.
Both South Korea and the US have been separately monitoring activities at a
possible nuclear site in North Korea to determine if the communist country is
planning a second test, reports said yesterday.
The Proliferation Security Initiative to be held in the Persian Gulf on tomorrow
is part of a programme that could be used to halt North Korean weapons
traffic in accordance with UN sanctions.
It will be the first PSI drill since North Korea's October 9 nuclear test.
Despite pressure from Washington to fully participate in the PSI, South Korea
has voiced concerns that its participation in searching and inspecting North
Korean ships could lead to clashes with the North.
Navies of the rival Koreas had deadly naval battles in 1999 and 2002.
``We have not (fully) participated in the PSI because there is a high
possibility of armed clashes if the PSI is carried out in waters around the
Korean peninsula,'' Vice Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan said.
The participants in the Persian Gulf drill - the 25th exercise of the
three-year-old Proliferation Security Initiative - are Australia, Bahrain,
Britain, France, Italy and the US.
Washington has assembled 60 nations to join the Proliferation Security
The Initiative is an attempt to work with other navies and air forces to monitor
And potentially intercept ships or aircraft suspected of ferrying illicit materials
to rogue nations or to terrorists.