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Russia Joins U.S.-Led WMD Initiative

31 May 2004 -- Russia has joined a U.S.-led alliance of countries prepared to board ships and raid suspect factories in a bid to stem the trade in weapons of mass destruction.

A Foreign Ministry statement issued in Moscow today said Russia is joining the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) as a founding state.

The initiative was developed by U.S. President George W. Bush in May 2003. It would permit interdiction of missiles and other components of weapons of mass destruction on land, at sea, and in the air.

Moscow had expressed doubts over the initiative, with officials saying they were unsure whether the plan met international legal standards.

But U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton met high-ranking Russian officials two weeks ago to urge Moscow to join.

U.S. officials say Russia's joining is especially significant because it will encourage China to follow suit.