The United States is examining the prospect of forming
yet another coalition, this time to stop the proliferation of North Korean
missiles and weapons of mass destruction to Middle East clients.
North Korea is regarded as the leading missile and WMD proliferator in
the world. Pyongyang has sold missiles and components to such Middle East
clients as Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen.
Officials said the proliferation issue became urgent in December 2002
after a ship laden with North Korean Scud-class missiles was stopped en
route from Pyongyang to Yemen. After a day, the United States agreed to
release the ship because of Yemeni threats to end military cooperation and
the lack of international regulations to hold the vessel.
"We stopped that North Korean ship that was headed down towards Yemen
and we had to give it up because we had no legal right to keep it," Rumsfeld
said. "We need the legal right to keep it. We need the ability to do that."
Officials said the issue has been discussed in high levels of the
Defense Department, State Department and the National Security Council. They
said the need to halt North Korean proliferation would be a key element in
the war on terrorism.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the United States would seek to
form a coalition to stop the proliferation of missiles and WMD after the
Iraqi crisis is resolved. Rumsfeld said the coalition would be required to
implement new international regulations that would enable the United States
and allies to stop suspected missile and WMD shipments.
"I think what we're going to have to do is get the technologically
advanced countries of the world to fashion a new regime, a new set of
regulations and rules that enable us to
interdict and stop, whether it's in the land, the sea or the air, the
transportation and the movement of nuclear weapons, fissile material,
ballistic missile technology," Rumsfeld said on March 4. "It takes enormous
cooperation from countries."
Officials said a key proposal is for the United States to link relations
with countries to their willingness to stop missile and WMD exports. They
said this would begin with connecting U.S. arms and technology transfers to
foreign countries to their commitment to implement uniform standards on
The draft proliferation policy is also based on a White House decision
not to attack North Korea. Pyongyang is believed to have at least two
nuclear weapons and the capability to produce several additional weapons per