China wary of US initiative against nuclear weapons

Published on 03/06/2009

BEIJING: Tuesday

China expressed worry about a US-led initiative that some governments hope will prevent nuclear weapons proliferation from North Korea, saying the effort may stray from international law.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman also confirmed that a senior Chinese official had called off a visit to North Korea, citing a scheduling conflict.

The Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) was created by the Bush administration in 2003 in an attempt to stifle trade in weapons of mass destruction.

Following North Korea’s nuclear test on May 25, South Korea said it would join the ad hoc alliance, and Pyongyang promptly threatened to attack the South if it tried to search North Korean vessels under the programme.

But China has remained aloof from the PSI, and Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said the initiative risked departing from international law. Those comments from Beijing, a key player in the nuclear crisis and neighbour of North Korea, are likely to mean PSI actions will remain heavily limited.

Beijing’s cooperation would be crucial to making PSI action against Pyongyang bite. —Reuters

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