Stop and search plan for North Korean ships

Officials from 11 countries are meeting in Australia on Wednesday to discuss arrangements for boarding North Korean ships in international waters.

    Australian Prime Minister John
    Howard supports boarding ships
    of states suspected of proliferation

    Senior officials and military chiefs from the 11 nations opened the two day talks in Brisbane despite growing criticism from Australians.
     
    However, the United States plans to carry through its intention to build another ‘coalition of the willing’ to intercept North Korean vessels and aircraft on the high seas or in international airspace.

    The policies discussed may also apply to other countries the 11 nations deem "rogue states”.

    "We want the proliferators to know that we are going to go beyond words and treaties and agreements," US Under Secretary of State for Arms Control John Bolton said on Tuesday.
      
    "We will take action to defend ourselves against the spread of weapons of mass destruction."

    Stop and search in international waters is illegal, according to international law sya critics of this latest initiative.

    China kept informed

    But Australia is an enthusiastic backer of the US-led Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) formalised in Madrid last month by Australia, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain and the US.
      
    Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said the 11 nations would “see whether there's a need to change international law or whether we could put together some sort of international convention that countries would voluntarily sign up to.” 
      


    "... Mr Downer ... is getting way ahead of himself and is just plain irresponsible

    Kevin Rudd
    Opposition foreign affairs spokesman


    He said China was also being kept informed about the progress of the talks and it was hoped it would become an active participant.
      
    "China could become a key player in a process like this, particularly in relation to North Korea," he said.
      
    Downer added that while North Korea was unlikely to agree to any new international laws to stop its shipping, it would have to pass through another country that might agree to blocking the transportation. 
      
    Not everyone happy

    However, opposition foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd said Australia needed to be aware of all the facts before signing the PSI proposal.
      
    "For Mr Downer to run off at the mouth and begin speculating about the possible future deployment of Australian naval and air capabilities in some future unspecified interdiction role against the North Koreans is getting way ahead of himself and is just plain irresponsible."
      
    Prominent local foreign affairs expert Griffith University academic Joe Siracusa said the meeting over the next two days would achieve little and draw attention to Brisbane for the wrong reasons.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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