For those of you following proliferation issues, it will come as very welcome news that South Korea has finally joined the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). It was created by the United States in 2003 to proactively interdict shipment of WMD related materials and covers land, sea and air. Importantly, it uses existing legal frameworks and agreements as the basis for action and is proactive. This means that the PSI is really an activity, NOT an organization. There is no headquarters, secretariat etc. The State Department describes it as:
The PSI is an innovative and proactive approach to preventing proliferation that relies on voluntary actions by states that are consistent with national legal authorities and relevant international law and frameworks. PSI participants use existing authorities — national and international — to put an end to WMD-related trafficking and take steps to strengthen those authorities as necessary. UN Security Council Resolution 1540, adopted unanimously by the Security Council, called on all states to take cooperative action to prevent trafficking in WMD. The PSI is a positive way to take such cooperative action.
Previously, South Korea had refused to join for fear of upsetting the North, maintaining the illusion that placating Pyongyang would somehow help achieve its foreign policy goals. It’s good to see them change their minds. This means the US and other PSI members will have a new and valuable partner in the fight against the proliferation of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and materials.