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Anti-proliferation maritime drill off South Korean waters ends
By Kim Deok-hyun
SEOUL, Oct. 14 (Yonhap) -- A multinational naval drill aimed at intercepting weapons of mass destruction ended off South Korea's southern waters on Thursday, the first such exercise hosted by Seoul, officials here said.

   About 10 warships and aircraft from South Korea, the U.S., Japan and Australia took part in the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), code-named "Eastern Endeavor 10," off the southern port city of Busan.

   "The PSI drill was carried out in accordance with exercise scenarios and finished at around 4 p.m.," an official at the South's defense ministry said.

   On the second day of the two-day drill, the warships simulated a chase of target vessels and had special warfare forces board them for inspection, the official said on condition of anonymity. They were followed by searches of mock "suspicious" materials hidden on the vessels, he said.

   As part of the drill, military officials and experts from the 14 participating nations, including France and Canada, held a seminar on Wednesday in Busan to discuss PSI policies by each country and procedures for search operations, the official said.

   South Korea became the PSI's 95th full member last year after North Korea's second nuclear test. North Korea condemned the move as a "declaration of war" against Pyongyang.

   Seoul announced the plan in May to host the PSI drill following the March sinking of the corvette Cheonan blamed on North Korea. The South's defense ministry, however, said the latest exercise does not target any specific country, including North Korea.

   Pyongyang has denied any responsibility for the sinking that killed 46 South Korean sailors.

South Koreas Navy helicopter leaves a destroyer and chases a boat suspected of carrying illicit weapons during a multinational Proliferation Security Initiative drill hosted by the South off the southern port of Busan on Oct. 14. (Yonhap)