By Chang Jae-soon
WASHINGTON, Dec. 27 (Yonhap) — The United States will host a meeting next month of countries committed to working together to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction from states like North Korea, the State Department said.
The Mid-level Political Meeting of the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) will be held in Washington on Jan. 27, with Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation Thomas Countryman hosting the conference, the department said in a release.
“The Proliferation Security Initiative is a commitment among 105 nations to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems,” Countryman said in a video message posted on the department’s website.
“This 13-year-strong endeavor has met with remarkable success. And President Obama has made it an important part of his agenda to ensure terrorists never acquire a nuclear weapon,” he said. “The United States is honored to host this meeting, where we will work to strengthen barriers to proliferation.”
Next month’s conference will set a course for the future by building on the results achieved at the 2013 High-Level Political Meeting that was held in Warsaw, Poland to mark the 10th anniversary of the initiative, the department said.
Participants will also examine changes in the proliferation and interdiction landscapes, identify specific areas where PSI states can further focus their efforts, and discuss ways to maintain political momentum leading to the 15th anniversary conference in 2018, it said.
The PSI was launched in 2003 under the George W. Bush administration to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction. North Korea is among the major targets of the initiative that calls mainly for maritime interdiction of suspected shipments.
Pyongyang has strongly protested against the drive, saying it amounts to a naval blockade.
Leading the PSI are 21 countries in the Operational Experts Group (OEG), and South Korea is one of them.
At last month’s annual defense ministers’ talks with South Korea, known as the Security Consultative Meeting, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter expressed appreciation for the Asian ally’s “continued active participation” in the PSI, according to a joint communique.