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North Korean ship makes U-turn

July 1, 2009 (DVB), A North Korean carrying ship being tracked by the US navy as it apparently made its way towards Burma has reportedly turned around, US officials said yesterday.

The two officials speaking to AP on condition of anonymity said that the Kang Nam ship was yesterday some 250 miles south of Hong Kong, heading north.

The ship was being tracked under suspicion that it was carrying weapons in breach of UN Resolution 1874, which bans all exports of weaponry from North Korea.

The Kang Nam had appeared to be heading in the direction of Burma, where it had made a previous visit in May 2007, although Burma has denied knowledge of the ship's destination.

The US officials have said they do not know where the ship is now heading, although Korean security analyst, Kim Tae-woo, told the Korea Herald that it "would mean that Resolution 1874 is taking effect and causing the North to retreat".

The UN resolution allows UN member states to request inspections of North Korean ships suspected of carrying banned consignments.

In a state-run newspaper today, North Korea also said that a search of its ships by UN member states would result in military action.

The news follows the arrest yesterday of two Japanese and one Korean man suspected of trying to illegally import into Burma equipment from North Korea that could be used in the development of missiles.

The two incidents will fuel concerns about Burma's military ambitions, particularly following the revelation that North Korea has been assisting Burma in the development of a network of tunnels under the country.

Leaked documents show plans to hold large rockets and satellite communication command centers inside the tunnels.

Reporting by Francis Wade


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