U.S. Navy Intercepts North Korean Crewed Vessel Suspected of Transporting Weapons

By MarEx 2011-06-13 11:28:22

U.S. Navy warship, the USS McCampbell, intercepted and halted a North Korean crewed cargo vessel, the M/V Light, somewhere south of Shanghai that was suspected of carrying missile-related items and small arms while on the way to Myanmar (Burma).

The New York Times reported that since the Light was registered in Belize, their authorities gave the U.S. permission to inspect the ship.  According to U.S. officials, their destroyer confronted the Light on the 26th of May where McCampbell crew asked to board the Light and the North Korean crewmembers refused to grant them admittance.  The U.S. Navy had attempted 4 times to board and inspect the ship, and all were refused.  Upon the confrontation, the Light turned around and returned to its home port a few days later. 

Pictured: USS McCampbell

The White House and Associated Press confirmed the story and had reasons to believe the Light was en route to Myanmar to deliver military equipment, as they have expressed concerns over possible military ties between Myanmar and North Korea. 

Gary Samore, the special assistant of President Obama for arms control and weapons of mass destruction, said they were dealing directly with the North Koreans and all the Southeast Asian countries, including Myanmar, urging for inspection of the Light in the event it docked into one of their ports.  Samore also said the U.S. Navy had contacted the North Korean ship while sailing to ask of where they were going and what cargo was aboard. 

North Korea is currently under international and UN sanctions constructed to curb nuclear and missile programs within the country.  In 2009, the North Korean ship Kang Nam 1 was forced to turn around their course after being suspected of delivering military equipment and supplies to Myanmar.  The UN Resolution 1874, which was adopted in June 2009 following a North Korean nuclear test, toughened weapons embargo and authorized member states to intercept these shipments. 

North Korea’s state media has not reported the incident and is not discussing prior interceptions of the illegal transport of weapons and planes by ship.

The U.S. says that when confronted about the vessel, N. Korea claimed the ship was carrying industrial chemicals to Bangladesh. U.S. officials say they had no way of knowing if that was true and they had good reason to be suspicious, as this same vessel has in the past been involved with transporting weapons to Myanmar and the Middle East.

The 4,650 dwt. vessel is owned by Ever Ocean Shipping Agency Co. and operated by Dalian Sea Glory Shipping Co. of Liaoning, China.