July 07, 2009 09:37
A ship suspected by the U.S. of carrying weapons-related materials on Monday returned to North Korean territorial waters in the West Sea after days of being trailed by an American ship. Since leaving Nampo Port on June 17, the Kangnam had been under close surveillance in waters off China and Southeast Asia.
The Kangnam spent 20 days on a slow chase without finding a port to stop at. Even Burma, the suspected destination of the ship, said it would search the vessel on port, and the Kangnam turned tail in the South China Sea near Vietnam on June 28.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said that the "humiliation" of the Kangnam was a tribute to implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1874. In an interview with ABC on Sunday, he said that the North Korean cargo ship had to turn back as no port permitted it to stop.
The resolution encourages inspection of suspicious North Korean ships on the high seas and denying the North fuel and food aid until it returns to nuclear disarmament.
The U.S. State Department had urged China and all ASEAN nations to actively implement the resolution, and the U.S. Defense Department had tracked the Kangnam around the clock with a KH-12 reconnaissance satellite, P-3C maritime patrol aircraft, and Aegis destroyer USS John McCain.
A major achievement was persuading the Burmese junta, which has resumed friendly relations with North Korea, not to permit the Kangnam to stop there. Burma was apparently swayed by fears of hurting relations with Japan, which gives huge amounts of aid to Burma, and South Korea, which has invested in developing resources there.
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