U.S. Practicing Sea and Air Piracy

September 16, 2003

From September 12-15, the U.S. military held joint naval maneuvers, labeled "Exercise Pacific Protector," with Australia, Britain, and Japan in the Coral Sea, off the northeast coast of Australia. During the maneuvers, ships and helicopters staged mock "stop and search" exercises involving the interdiction of ships and planes.

These military exercises were the first to be held as part of George Bush's so-called "Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI)," which calls for stopping ships "suspected" of carrying weapons of mass destruction. White House officials recently announced that nine other similar "exercises" will be held in coming months with the military forces from 11 other nations.

U.S. officials have also openly admitted that such "aggressive interdiction" exercises are targeting North Korea and other so-called rogue states by threatening to board and seize their vessels in international waters and airspace.

Any attempt to force down planes or board ships, however, would clearly violate existing laws regarding the safe passage of ships on the open seas. In other words, Bush's "Proliferation Security Initiative" aims at instituting a regime of air and sea piracy.

Last July, however, U.S. Under Secretary for Arms Control, John Bolton dismissed such criticism, stating "We're not going to engage in an endless seminar about what our authority is."

The U.S. has already demonstrated its determination to carry out its "aggressive interdiction" plans. Last December, Spain intercepted a North Korean ship in the Arabian Sea en route for Yemen and handed the vessel over to the United States. The U.S. was forced to allow the ship to complete its voyage only after international criticism, and only after admitting that the ship did not in fact violate any law.

These latest military maneuvers are another sign that the U.S. is dangerously stepping up its aggression against North Korea, and preparing for a possible blockade against the country. The Bush administration has targeted North Korea as part of the so-called "axis of evil" and is intensifying diplomatic, political, economic and military pressure.