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2010年10月16日 (土)

海上阻止訓練 「北の核」包囲へ日韓協力深めよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Oct. 16, 2010)
Japan-S. Korea navy ties needed to contain North
海上阻止訓練 「北の核」包囲へ日韓協力深めよ(10月15日付・読売社説)

Our world would immediately be put at risk if ships carrying nuclear weapons and nuclear-related goods were free to sail wherever they wanted. Nations around the world must join hands to stop such unrestricted conduct.

The latest maritime interdiction drill performed in waters off Busan, South Korea, was an example of the kind of cooperation that can be facilitated by the international community.

The two-day exercise that ended Thursday was organized by South Korea in accordance with the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), a U.S.-led program involving 96 nations to prevent the further spread of weapons of mass destruction. Four nations took part in the training--Japan, South Korea, the United States and Australia.

The exercise included a drill in which two destroyers from the Maritime Self-Defense Force played a leading role in halting and searching a vessel in cooperation with two South Korean Navy destroyers and a U.S. Navy aegis-equipped destroyer. The drill was based on a scenario in which the searched ship was carrying suspicious freight.

Over the years, the MSDF and the South Korean Navy have joined a large U.S. Navy exercise off the coast of Hawaii, known as RIMPAC.

However, this latest event was the first of its kind in which Japan and South Korea sent ships for a multilateral drill in waters close to their shores.

Shared threat

The two nations have long adhered to their respective perceptions of history. This has probably been a factor behind the cautious attitude both nations have toward bilateral security cooperation.

However, a deepening threat posed by North Korea has changed all this.

Immediately after the reclusive state conducted a second nuclear test in May 2009 despite condemnation by the international community, South Korea said it would fully join the PSI. Seoul's decision to take the lead in organizing this month's maritime drill came after it concluded the sinking of a South Korean Navy patrol boat in March was caused by a torpedo attack by the North.

North Korea--a country that has relentlessly pursued nuclear arms and ballistic missiles--is the greatest element of instability in East Asia.

Pyongyang has declared it will bolster its nuclear deterrent, despite an economy facing imminent collapse. The hermit nation has also entered a period of transition, in which Kim Jong Un is being positioned as the heir apparent to his father, supreme leader Kim Jong Il, in what would be the third generation of the Kim family to hold power.

Keep up intl pressure

The international community should not drop its guard with respect to North Korea, which exports ballistic missiles to earn foreign cash, and imports materials and commodities needed to develop nuclear weapons and missiles.

The U.N. Security Council has adopted a resolution against North Korea imposing an embargo on WMDs and goods related to the production of such arms, while also requesting member states to inspect vessels connected to North Korea suspected of carrying such cargo.

We believe it is essential to continue PSI-based maritime interdiction drills to ensure the U.N. resolution blocks Pyongyang's WMD ambitions.

There is a limit to what can be achieved through such exercises, given the need to obtain consent from the nation a ship belongs to when a cargo inspection is deemed necessary in international waters. North Korea cannot be expected to accept such inspections. Still, carrying out multilateral maritime interdiction drills can do much to strongly deter the unpredictable regime from proliferating WMDs.

Further progress in advancing cooperation between Japan and South Korea in this area will increase trust between the two nations, as well as improve collaboration between Tokyo, Seoul and Washington as they stand up to the challenge Pyongyang presents.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 15, 2010)
(2010年10月15日01時21分  読売新聞)


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