US to search ships for WMD

The United States and 10 of its allies will press on with plans to intercept vessels suspected of carrying weapons of mass destruction despite a warning from China that the move could be illegal.

The agreement, reached in Paris, endorses the American Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), which President George W Bush announced earlier this year. The initiative is designed to halt the spread of weapons. The 11 countries have agreed to board ships, force planes to land and inspect cargoes if they suspect that chemical, nuclear or biological weapons are being transported. They are to hold a series of 10 joint exercises, starting next week in the western Pacific, involving ships from the US, Australia, Japan and France, to simulate an interception. They will also try to recruit new members to the group and are due to meet in London next month. Full Story

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