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South Korea's Dilemma on the Proliferation Security Initiative

Hong, Kyudok  
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    The Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) is a rapidly-growing regime that aims at incorporating cooperative actions and coordinated training exercises to obtain the capability of interdicting the illicit trafficking of weapons of mass destruction to and from “states and non-state actors of proliferation concern.” Since the PSI's inception on May 31, 2003, South Korea has remained silent, without participating in any of the activities due to its own sensitivity toward North Korea. However, Seoul should reconsider its position of non-participation since more than 60 countries have already accepted the principles of interdiction as a de facto norm. Seoul can no longer distance itself from others who join to build a regime for preventing the potential dangers of proliferation in this age of terrorism. No interdiction will guarantee a complete success. Should North Korea decide to export the plutonium or highly enriched uranium, it may able to do so by avoiding the PSI network. But Pyongyang must consider the cost incurred from the negative image it has earned by being a target of the PSI. The window of opportunity is still widely open since many of the Bush administration officials are now seeking a soft and subdued approach toward Pyongyang by urging North Korea to follow the path that Libya has chosen a year ago. The PSI could be regarded as an opportunity for Pyongyang to prove those critics wrong about its commitment to non-proliferation.


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