Thursday, Aug 21, 2003
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By Sridhar Krishnaswami
The State Department spokesman took several questions on the subject which was more or less followed a report in the New York Times of the exercises with a firm message intended for North Korea on arms and material getting in and out of that country.
The concern was that this tight-fisted approach is bound to make matters worse in the Korean peninsula and the Asia Pacific and would complicate the coming six-nation talks in Beijing. But Foggy Bottom had a different take on the subject even if the spokesman, Richard Boucher, would not comment if he saw anything `new' in the Times report over and beyond what had already been discussed and decided earlier by nations in the proliferation security initiative.
"...the goal of the initiative is to give the countries of the world who are most concerned about proliferation some better legal and other tools for dealing with the problem of proliferation, and, when necessary being able to interdict proliferation when it occurs", Mr. Boucher remarked going on to say that apart from the exercises hosted by Australia in the Western Pacific next month, there will be others in the Mediterranean and the Arabian sea along with air and ground interdiction exercises as well.
The administration is also going to some lengths to dispel the notion that the exercises are limited to the U.S. and Australia with Japan pitching in perhaps.
The State Department is expressing confidence that all countries in the Proliferation Security Initiative would be involved "in some capacity".
Apart from the U.S. and Australia, the Initiative includes France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Britain.
It is no secret that the United States, in the aftermath of September 11,2001 has been trying to tighten the international regime on interdiction especially as it related to territorial waters; and this has raised the question if Washington is trying to work on the legal aspects in a manner that would see a tighter set of rules for some nations that are regarded proliferators.
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