Japan, others plan blocking N Korea's WMD materials in Breakthrough Agreement

Taipei Times

ASIAN BREAKTHROUGH: The basic agreement, which will stop exports of goods that could be used to make WMD, will be a first for the region


Monday, Oct 13, 2003,Page 5

Japan and seven other Asia-Pacific economies plan to cooperate to block exports of materials that could be used to develop weapons of mass destruction, particularly to North Korea, a daily said yesterday.

It will be the first time that multilateral cooperation in export control will be established in the Asian region, the Mainichi Shimbun said, quoting Japanese government sources.

Japan, the US, China, South Korea, Australia, Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong are due to reach a basic agreement on the plan at an export control seminar here on Oct. 27, the paper said.

They aim to put details of the plan in writing by early next year, including the systematic sharing of information to prevent the spread of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons as well as missiles to "countries of concern," mainly North Korea, the report said.

The eight countries are particularly concerned about shipments of weapons-related materials to North Korea via third countries, the report said.

In April a Tokyo company associated with a pro-Pyongyang group of ethnic Koreans in Japan attempted to export devices that could be used to make missiles and nuclear weapons to North Korea via Thailand.

The devices, which control electric currents and can be used for enriching uranium, were seized in a third country, reportedly Hong Kong, after they were shipped under false documentation.

Japan will lead the proposed cooperation with full support from the US state and commerce departments, the report said.

The proposed export control will supplement the so-called Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), a scheme launched in May by US President George W. Bush on the interception of shipments of materials related to weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

PSI is joined by the world's 11 industrial powers with Japan being the only Asian participant.