Senior officials from Japan, the United States, Canada and 14 other Asia-Pacific nations discussed on Wednesday in Tokyo measures to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the wake of North Korea’s recent nuclear test, Japan’s Foreign Ministry said.
In the meeting, officials in charge of nonproliferation policy from the 17 countries focused on ways to stop the entry of nuclear-related materials and technologies into North Korea through concerted international efforts, it said.
“There remains a grave, outstanding challenge in the region — it is North Korea’s nuclear issue,” said Kazutoshi Aikawa, director general of the Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Science Department at the Japanese Foreign Ministry, at the outset of the meeting, which was open to the media.
“North Korea’s issue is the issue that the international community, particularly countries in this region, needs to tackle and take united and immediate action on,” said Aikawa, who chaired the meeting. “So the international community must further its global and regional cooperation in a comprehensive manner.”
The meeting, the 12th of its kind, included around 40 officials from China, Pyongyang’s longtime benefactor, the 10 countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, South Korea and countries interested in the security of the Asian region, namely Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States, the ministry said.
Japan hopes to develop human resources and provide expertise in the areas of cargo inspections and customs controls to Asian countries amid concerns materials related to nuclear weapons development are slipping through to Pyongyang, a government official said.
The talks, launched in November 2003, serve to complement the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative aimed at stopping the trafficking of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.