By Seima Oki / Yomiuri Shimbun Correspondent WASHINGTON — The U.S. State Department issued Friday a joint statement with 16 other countries, including Japan, announcing a policy of reinforced inspections of North Korean ships, if the vessels are suspected of being involved in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or illegal trading.
The tougher inspections targeting Pyongyang, which has been accelerating its development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, are aimed at preventing illegal trading practices in which cargoes are transferred from ship to ship on the high seas by North Korea, as well as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
The countries involved in the new action based it on the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), a framework to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, which more than 100 countries worldwide have endorsed.
Proposed by the administration of then U.S. President George W. Bush in 2003, the international framework involves reinforced cooperation among the military forces and intelligence agencies of signatory nations.
The joint statement, which was signed by 17 countries, including the United States, Japan and South Korea, said, “As member states of the United Nations and as PSI-endorsing states, it is our responsibility to implement UNSCR [United Nations Security Council Resolution] obligations fully.” The statement emphasizes the need to toughen crackdowns on illegal trading at sea by North Korea.
The statement cites seven measures to achieve this, including the following: inspections of ships suspected of transporting cargoes in violation of the U.N. Security Council resolutions, with agreements from countries where the ships are registered; moving ships to ports in their countries of registration if their documentation is incorrect; and prohibiting trade of all goods on the high seas with North Korean ships.
The statement urges all PSI-endorsing countries to implement the measures.