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S. Korea wraps up anti-proliferation meeting, multinational naval drill

June 2, 2023 - 20:36 By Yonhap
The South Korean Navy's special warfare and CBR forces search a ship suspected of carrying weapons of mass destruction in a Proliferation Security Initiative drill at a naval base on South Korea's southern Jeju Island on May 31, 2023, in this photo provided by the Navy. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

South Korea has concluded a four-day event of meetings and multinational maritime drills Friday aimed at preventing the trafficking of weapons of mass destruction.

The high-level forum of the Proliferation Security Initiative, the first such meeting hosted by Seoul, brought together around 200 delegates from 71 countries on the country's southern resort island of Jeju on Tuesday.

South Korea also hosted the Eastern Endeavor 23 exercise in an effort to strengthen capabilities to counter WMD proliferation, which included multinational maritime interdiction exercises off South Korea's southern waters on Wednesday and an academic session and table-top exercise on Friday.

Earlier in the day, the event concluded with an operational experts' group meeting, during which the participants discussed ways to step up cooperation against North Korea's evolving threats such as cryptocurrency and other emerging technologies.

The PSI was launched in 2003 under the George W. Bush administration to stop the trafficking of WMDs, their delivery systems and related materials. The PSI holds a high-level political meeting every five years to review and set guidelines for the initiative.

The US initiated the Asia-Pacific PSI exercises in 2014, and participating countries have hosted their own exercises, like Eastern Endeavor in South Korea, Pacific Protector in Australia and Pacific Shield in Japan.

Last year, the US hosted the five-day Fortune Guard 22 in Honolulu in September, which brought together 21 countries, including South Korea.