June 13, 2011 / 5:24 AM / in 6 years

U.S. Navy intercepted North Korean ship: report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Navy intercepted a North Korean ship suspected of carrying an illegal shipment of missile parts to Myanmar two weeks ago, the New York Times reported on late on Sunday, citing senior American officials.

<p>The U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85) anchor at a South Korean naval port in Busan, about 420 km (262 miles) southeast of Seoul, July 21, 2010. REUTERS/Truth Leem</p>

The North Korean cargo ship was forced to return home after a standoff at sea and several days of diplomatic pressure from Washington and Asian nations, the newspaper reported.

Officials for the U.S. Navy and the State Department were not immediately available for comment late on Sunday.

U.N. sanctions imposed on North Korea after it conducted nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009 include a ban on trade in nuclear and missile technology with North Korea. A U.N. resolution adopted last year authorized U.N. member states to inspect North Korean sea, air and land cargo.

According to the Times, the destroyer USS McCampbell caught up with the cargo ship M/V Light south of Shanghai on May 26 after American officials began tracking the vessel, which was believed to have been involved in previous illegal shipments.

The destroyer asked to board the vessel under authority given by Belize, but the North Koreans refused, the Times said.

An American official told the newspaper the ship was North Korean but flagged in Belize. Authorities in Belize gave the United States permission to inspect the ship, the newspaper said, citing American officials.

Reporting by JoAnne Allen; Editing by Paul Simao

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