MH60S

Friday, May 26, 2006

34 countries in Med anti-WMD exercise

Reported here:
As part of mock drills, warships participating in a large multinational exercise took off into the Turkish Mediterranean Friday in pursuit of a cargo ship said to be carrying weapons of mass destruction.

The exercise, with 34 countries participating, was a practice session to prepare for intercepting weapons materials before they reach a country such as Iran, Turkey’s neighbour.

Officials say co-operation-building exercises like this are crucial to keeping Iran or other countries from receiving shipments of materials that they could use to help build a nuclear weapon.
That's all good, of course, but the most humorous quote of the day is in the final paragraph:
There have been more than a dozen previous PSI exercises held in other countries, though Turkey says this one will be the largest yet.

When South Korea agreed to participate in an earlier PSI exercise, North Korea, also believed to have a clandestine nuclear weapons programme, called it a “war crime” and threatened all-out nuclear war.
The DPRK has achieved "expert" status in "war crimes."

UPDATE: (5/27.06) And a 6 nation exercise in the Pacific reported here:
The Japan Coast Guard will conduct a large-scale training session with its counterparts from five other countries starting Saturday to prepare for suspicious vessels operating near Japan, officials said.

Maritime security authorities from China, South Korea, Russia, the United States and Canada will join the drill on the assumption that a ship is heading for Vladivostok after refusing to submit necessary documents for a port call at Shanghai, the officials said.

The drill, which was initiated by Japan, will be the largest such exercise involving the main countries along the North Pacific, they added.

The training session will take place in waters stretching for about 2,000 kilometers in the East China Sea and the Sea of Japan until June 8.

The main purpose of the drill is to coordinate efforts to prevent criminal activities, including illegal entry, drug smuggling and maritime terrorism, and to heighten the countries' abilities to bring terrorist attacks under control.

It will be different from the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) to halt the spread of weapons of mass destruction. China and South Korea have yet to participate in the PSI.

Maritime security talks among Japan, South Korea, Russia and the United States have been held since 2000 to discuss the development of an information-exchange system while engaging in theoretical exercises. Canada and China later joined the team.

During the drill, a U.S. Coast Guard vessel will play the role of a freighter ship from a country that poses the risk of distributing weapons of mass destruction. The ship will head toward Russia after bypassing a port call at Shanghai.

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