US intercepts North Korean ship at sea

THE US Navy intercepted a North Korean ship suspected of carrying missile technology to Burma and after dramatic stand-off forced it to turn back.

Pyongyang was forced to recall the ship home after last month’s confrontation, which involved several days of diplomatic wrangling, the newspaper said, citing unnamed US officials, reported The New York Times.

The US government made no official announcement about the operation, the paper added.

But it said US officials had described the episode as an example of how they can use a combination of naval power and diplomatic pressure to enforce UN sanctions imposed on North Korea after its 2009 nuclear test.

“This case had an interesting wrinkle: the ship was North Korean, but it was flagged in Belize,” one US official told The Times.

And the authorities in Belize gave permission to the United States to inspect the ship, according to the report.

On May 26, somewhere south of Shanghai, the US destroyer McCampbell caught up with the cargo ship M/V Light and hailed it, asking to board the vessel under the authority given by Belize, The Times wrote.

Four times, the North Koreans refused. But a few days later, the cargo ship stopped dead in the water and turned back to its home port, tracked by US surveillance planes and satellites, the report said.

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