Tue, Nov 14, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Seoul says it will not fully join US plan on N Korea

DOING ENOUGH Seoul said that its participation in existing regimes was sufficient to control the proliferation of weapons by its northern neighbor


South Korea insisted yesterday it is doing enough to prevent weapons proliferation from neighboring North Korea and refused to fully join a US-led counterproliferation initiative in the wake of Pyongyang's nuclear test.

Park In-kook, a deputy foreign minister, said that Seoul already participated in various regimes to control weapons of mass destruction.

He also said the South wouldn't formally join the US-led Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), a campaign aimed largely at stopping North Korean weapons traffic by sea.

However, the South will continue a hold on regular humanitarian aid to the North, said Lee Kwan-se, a Unification Ministry official. Seoul suspended the aid in July after North Korea test-launched a series of missiles over international objections.

Lee also said South Korea will suspend subsidies it pays for a tourism program at the North's Diamond Mountain resort. Those subsidies are believed to be rather small, simply to fund trips by those who can't afford the expensive, multi-day tours -- mainly students.

The decision came as South Korea finalized a report to the UN sanctions committee on how it would carry out the unanimously adopted resolution after the North's Oct. 9 nuclear test. The report was scheduled to be submitted to the committee yesterday.

The resolution bans the sale of major arms to North Korea and calls for inspection of cargo entering and leaving the country.

It also calls for the freezing of assets of businesses supplying the North's nuclear and ballistic weapons programs, as well as restrictions on sales of luxury goods and travel bans on North Korean officials.

Park said yesterday the South would ban travel by those North Korean officials named by the UN committee.

The US-led PSI program has gained new impetus since the North's Oct. 9 nuclear test.

Seoul has participated in the ship interdiction program only as an observer out of concern that its stopping and searching North Korean ships could lead to armed clashes with North Korea.

The two Koreas are still technically at war as the 1950 to 53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

But their relations have warmed since the first-and-only summit of their leaders in 2000, with Seoul pursuing engagement rather than confrontation under the so-called sunshine policy.

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