S Korea to boost role in anti-arms trafficking club

South Korea wants a bigger role in the global effort to stop the trafficking of weapons of mass destruction, a news report said on Sunday amid mounting tension with the North over the sinking of a Seoul warship.

Seoul: South Korea wants a bigger role in the global effort to stop the trafficking of weapons of mass destruction, a news report said on Sunday amid mounting tension with the North over the sinking of a Seoul warship.

South Korea plans to become a core member of the 95-nation Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) which allows signatories to stop ships suspected of carrying the arms or their delivery systems, a news agency said.

"We have decided to join the Operational Experts Group (OEG)," an unnamed South Korean foreign ministry official told Yonhap, referring to PSI`s 20-member steering committee.

Seoul believes signing up for the OEG in Japan in November will make sharing information on North Korea, a proliferator of illegal weapons, easier, the report said.

The PSI, set up in 2003 by then US president George W Bush, carries out drills to practise intercepting suspect vessels and is planning an exercise later this year.

South Korea`s participation last year was denounced by North Korea as a "declaration of war" against the communist state.

South Korea accused Pyongyang of torpedoing one of its warships near the disputed Yellow Sea border with the loss of 46 lives on March 26.

The South has announced its own reprisals including cutting off trade. It also wants a strongly worded resolution, or at least a presidential statement, from the 15-member UN Security Council.

Last week it briefed council members on the evidence collected by a multinational investigation, which found overwhelming evidence that a North Korean submarine torpedoed the 1,200-tonne Cheonan corvette.

The North, which angrily dismisses the South`s claims as "sheer fabrication", also addressed the council.

Officials at Seoul`s foreign ministry were not immediately available on Sunday for comment.

Bureau Report

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