US Navy forces missile carrying N Korean ship to turn back
US Navy has intercepted a North Korean ship suspected of carrying missiles to Myanmar and forced it to turn back, senior US officials said today.world Updated: Jun 13, 2011 14:05 IST
US Navy has intercepted a North Korean ship suspected of carrying missiles to Myanmar and forced it to turn back, senior US officials said on Monday.
The North Korean ship M/V Light, believed to be involved in previous illegal shipments, was intercepted South of Chinese port of Shanghai on May 26 by a US destroyer and after a standoff at sea running into several days was forced to turn back, 'New York Times' reported quoting US officials.
Though both Pyongyang and Washington made no announcement about the incident, NYT quoted Gary Somers, Special Assistant to President Barack Obama on weapons of mass destructions confirming the incident.
The Times said American officials had described the episode as an example how combination of naval power and diplomatic pressure could be used to enforce UN sanctions imposed after North Korea's nuclear test in 2009.
The US officials said that the suspected short range missiles and weapons were enroute to Myanmar but the final destination could have been third countries like Iran.
They said the ship was carrying missiles with a range of 350 miles (500 kms), that could hit parts of India, China, Thailand and Laos.
This was the second major interception of a North Korean vessel. In 2009, a North Korean ship the Kang Nam I, was forced to reverse course after being suspected of trying to deliver military-related supplies to Myanmar.
The paper said, M/V Light was registered in Belize, whose authorities gave US permission to inspect the ship. The destroyer USS Campbell caught up with a North Korean ship south of Shanghai and asked to board the vessel under the authority given by Belize.
The North Koreans refused four times, but a few days later the ship stopped dead in the water and turned back to home port, tracked by US surveillance warships and satellite.
First Published: Jun 13, 2011 14:00 IST