Seoul to host int’l anti-proliferation meeting, naval drill

South Korea will host a high-level meeting of countries committed to preventing the trafficking of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) for the first time next week, Yonhap News Agency reported Wednesday, citing the Foreign Ministry.

Amid heightened tensions over North Korea’s weapons testing, the high-level forum of the Proliferation Security Initiative will be held next Tuesday on the country’s southern island of Jeju, followed by the Eastern Endeavor 23 exercise in an effort to strengthen capabilities to counter WMD proliferation, the report said.

Delegates from over 70 countries will participate in the meeting, including the US.

The exercise will involve WMD counter-proliferation activities, including maritime interception and seizure operations, it said, adding that the US, Australia, Japan, Canada and Singapore will join the exercise led by the South Korean Navy’s Maritime Task Flotilla Seven.

The participating countries will mobilize a total of seven vessels and six aircraft, and they plan to form a “multinational coordination center” for cooperation in the sharing of information and other maritime procedures.

The Proliferation Security Initiative was launched in 2003 under the George W. Bush administration to stop the trafficking of WMDs, their delivery systems, and related materials.

The US nitiated initiative’s exercises in Asia-Pacific in 2014, and participating countries have hosted their own exercises. Last year, the US hosted the five-day Fortune Guard 22 in Honolulu in September, which brought together 21 countries, including South Korea.

Source: Kuwait News Agency