(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India
Has India Joined the PSI!
the first week of August, the Indian Navy interdicted a North Korean
off the Andaman coast. The Indian Navy has claimed that the cargo ship,
M V San
had entered Indian territorial waters without the requisite permission.
Indian Navy�s interdiction of the North Korean ship has earned plaudits
The US Navy
had not dared to interdict a North Korean ship M V Kang Nam 1 which the Americans suspected of
�banned cargo� for Myanmar.
The US Navy had trailed the ship for three weeks in the middle of the
did not dare to board the ship. North
had warned that such a move by the US would be tantamount to a
declaration of war. The job of interdiction of North Korean ships seems
been subcontracted by Washington
to willing third countries.
incident in the Andaman
Sea was the first
North Korean ship was seized and detained under the terms of the
adopted by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1874 in June
year. The resolution banned all arms
exports from North
and authorised member countries to inspect suspicious ships for banned
new sanctions were adopted after the North conducted another round of
tests in May this year.
Russia and China,
along with many other countries in the region, have been quite lukewarm
their support of the US
initiated sanctions against the North, particularly on the question of
interdicting North Korean ships on the high seas. China
and Russia resisted
binding use of force resolution because they don�t want US ships
neigbourhood on the pretext of interdicting ships carrying suspicious
or from North Korea.
Moscow and Beijing
are against Washington
acting unilaterally to interdict ships. They would prefer UN flagged
carry out the Security Council mandated interdictions/inspections on
seas and that too after only getting actionable information collated by
REGIONAL POLICEMAN ON BEHALF OF THE US
North Korean ship intercepted by the Indian Navy was carrying a cargo
tons of sugar bound for West Asia. No
of any illegal cargo on board was found after a rigorous search. A
days before the ship was searched, sections of the Indian media had
tendentious stories routed through the western media about North Korea helping Myanmar
to build a nuclear reactor.
Till the first week of September, the ship is still in the custody of
Indian Navy. Meanwhile the captain of the ship is desperately trying to
the sugar on board.
retired Naval Chief, Admiral Suresh
Mehta, defending the interdiction, told the media that the ship had
into Indian waters. Adm. Mehta told the media that �the ship had no
being there�. The law of the sea however clearly states that all ships
right of �innocent passage� through a country�s territorial waters.
Effectively, forcibly boarding a North Korean ship is an infringement
country�s sovereignty. Many legal experts say that it is almost
tantamount to a
declaration of war.
to reports, the unarmed crew protested after the Indian Navy boarded
searched the ship for �nuclear materiel or fuel�. A senior police
Port Blair told the media that a preliminary investigation by a team of
nuclear scientists failed to detect any radioactive material on board
ship carrying the huge consignment of sugar. The interdiction of the
Korean ship has been hailed in the western media as an illustration of
�international noose� tightening around North Korea.
is well known that the top brass of the Indian Navy has been very keen
up with the US Navy to jointly patrol busy sea lanes like the Malacca
or the Straits of Hormuz. The top naval brass was particularly keen to
to the US
sponsored Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). Another former
Chief, Admiral Arun Prakash, said in 2005 that �India�s
status in world affairs
warrants that we should be one of the core countries� to join the PSI.
origin of the PSI can be traced to the interception of another North
ship in 2002. US Intelligence had notified Spain,
a close ally about the ship moving towards Yemen.
The Spanish Navy boarded the
ship which was carrying missile parts for the Republic of Yemen.
After the Yemeni government protested, the ship was released along with
Indian Navy has been practicing maritime interdiction and counter
with the US Navy for many years. India
and the US
have also finalised a Maritime Cooperation Framework (MCF) to enhance
security. India has
port facilities for US forces engaged in the war in Iraq
Admiral Mike Mullen, now the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff,
visit to India
in 2007 had broached the �thousand ship navy� (TSN) concept. The idea
ships of like minded countries getting together to enhance security on
seas. Admiral Mullen had said at the time that there was �a very
response on the TSN from the Indian Navy�.
TSN in essence is a slightly toned down version of the controversial
creation of PSI was announced at the 2003 G-8 summit in Krakow, Poland.
The purported goal of the PSI is to stop the proliferation of weapons
destruction through maritime routes. The Bush administration had chosen
aggressively push membership of PSI. Other nations were asked to
PSI on a case-by-case basis, depending on their capability to make
contributions to a particular interdiction effort. India
is obviously helping out on a
Indian Navy�s action against the North Korean ship came at a time when
Obama administration itself was shifting gears in its Korea
The former president, Bill Clinton had just returned from a high
He had met with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il for three hours.
Clinton were old Korea
hands with links with the US
state department. In the last days of the Clinton
administration, Washington was on the
establishing diplomatic relations with Pyongyang.
of state, Madeleine Albright had made an official visit to the country
INDIA VIOLATES THE
SPIRIT OF NAM
India has had full diplomatic relations with North Korea
since independence. North
Korea may be currently in a dire
situation and politically isolated. What it needs now is a helping hand
overcome its problems, much of it resulting from decades of American
Countries like India
should help in defusing the tense situation in the Korean peninsula
adding fuel to the fire. The Indian action also violates the spirit of NAM,
called for a peaceful resolution of the Korean conflict. Last year, at
behest of Washington, India
had denied over-flight facilities to a North Korean plane coming in
the NDA regime, the Indian Navy had interdicted a North Korean ship off
Gujarat coast in 1999 allegedly carrying missile parts for Pakistan.
of the important goals of the PSI was to make India
the regional policeman working on behalf of the US. Bush administration officials had made
clear that the main thrust of the PSI was against North Korea and Iran
which were part of president Bush�s �axis of evil�. The PSI, according
experts, is in contravention to the Law of the Sea. The PSI gives the
signatories the right to interdict ships, merely on the suspicion that
be carrying suspicious materials on the high seas. Under the PSI, even
carrying fertilisers can be intercepted on the grounds that the cargo
used to make WMDs. Russia
and China are among
states that have said the PSI is an attempt to substitute interdictions
established multilateral treaties and is tailored to isolate specific
like North Korea
political pressure has so far kept New Delhi from formally joining the
PSI. The Indian
government has however admitted that Indian officials had attended a
meeting of the PSI. The minister of state for External affairs, Preneet
told the Rajya Sabha in the third week of July that the US
with us the details and rationale of the PSI�. The minister said that
no decision taken by the government to join PSI.
Mukherjee, when he was holding the Defense portfolio in the last
stated in January, 2005 that proliferation through sea routes was one of the �biggest problems� and in this
context, initiatives such as PSI would �need to be examined in greater
The �New Framework for the US-India Defense Relationship� signed in
June 2005 specifically
mentions among other things that the two countries would collaborate
the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction�.
latest country to join the PSI is South Korea. Seoul only
signed up this year after the
North conducted another round of nuclear and missile tests. The right
government in the South has abandoned the �sunshine policy� of engaging
the North. Relations between the two neighbours had thawed considerably
last ten years. The previous South Korean government also shared the
countries like China
which believed that forcibly boarding a North Korean ship at sea could
military clash that could even escalate into a full-fledged war. After
latest UN Security Council resolution expanding and tightening the
the North was passed, many commentators in the region had warned that
the move was
fraught with danger. Good sense seems to be prevailing in Washington
after the Bill Clinton visit. There are indications that the six party
resolve the crisis in the Korean peninsula will be resuming soon.