South Korea Says Suspect North Korean Ship Likely Home

A North Korean ship tracked by the
U.S. Navy because it was suspected of carrying illicit cargo and
which reversed course without delivering its load has likely
arrived back home, a South Korean official said Tuesday.

A U.S. admiral said the reversal demonstrates the success of
U.N. sanctions aimed at punishing the communist nation for its May
25 nuclear test and curbing any of its efforts to export military
technology.

The Kang Nam I is believed to have entered the port of Nampo on
North Korea's western coast late Monday, said a South Korean
Defense Ministry official, who spoke of condition of anonymity,
citing department policy. He said South Korea was trying to obtain
confirmation of the vessel's return.

The U.S. Navy tracked the cargo vessel after it left port last
month. The ship, which was believed destined for Myanmar, suddenly
turned back on June 28.

The Kang Nam 1, which has drawn attention in the past for
suspected proliferation activities, was the first ship to be
monitored under a U.N. Security Council resolution passed last
month to punish North Korea after its May 25 nuclear test.

It bans North Korea from selling all arms and weapons-related
material, and allows other countries to request boarding and
inspection of suspected ships, though the vessels do not have to
give permission.

North Korea has said it would consider interception of its ships
a declaration of war. It did not comment Monday or Tuesday on the
Kang Nam 1.

The reclusive nation has engaged in a series of provocative acts
this year and increased tensions Saturday, firing seven ballistic
missiles into the ocean off its east coast in violation of U.N.
resolutions. It was the North's biggest display of missile
firepower in three years.

The chief of U.S. Naval operations, Adm. Gary Roughead, said
Monday in Seoul that the ship's pending return showed that efforts
are working to enforce U.N. sanctions.

"I think that's an indication of the way the international
community came together," Roughead said of the ship's reversal.

He called the monitoring of the Kang Nam I "a very effective
way" of stopping proliferation, and said the Navy will continue to
conduct operations that support the effort to sanction the North.

Meanwhile, the U.N. Security Council issued a condemnation of
North Korea's recent missile tests after a closed meeting Monday in
New York.

Uganda U.N. Ambassador Ruhakana Rugunda, who holds the council's
rotating presidency, said members "condemned and expressed grave
concerns" at the missile launches, which violate U.N. resolutions
and "pose a threat to regional and international security."

Japan requested Monday's Security Council meeting. Japanese U.N.
Ambassador Yukio Takasu said the council should act "calmly and
responsibly" and focus on enforcing existing resolutions.

"Those are very effective measures if everyone implements
them," Takasu said.

Japan has asked all Southeast Asian nations, except junta-ruled
Myanmar, to enforce the U.N.'s North Korea resolutions, he said.
Takasu also credited the new resolutions with forcing the North
Korean ship to turn back.

Speculation has included the possibility the Kang Nam 1 was
carrying weapons, possibly to Myanmar. The ship has been suspected
of transporting banned goods to the Southeast Asian country in the
past.

Malaysia, meanwhile, pledged Monday to work with the United
States to block the North from using the Southeast Asian nation's
banks to fund any weapons deals.

The assurance came as Philip Goldberg, a U.S. envoy in charge of
coordinating the implementation of sanctions against Pyongyang, met
with Malaysian officials.

South Korean media have reported that North Korea sought payment
through a bank in Malaysia for the suspected shipment of weapons to
Myanmar via the Kang Nam I.

U.S. Treasury Undersecretary Stuart Levey is also traveling to
China and Hong Kong this week to gain support for U.S. efforts to
keep North Korea from using banks and businesses to buy and sell
missile and nuclear technology. He arrives Monday and will meet
with government officials and private sector executives Wednesday
through Friday.


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