World News

India to inspect North Korean ship in bigger port

PORT BLAIR, India (Reuters) - A North Korean ship inspected by India in the Andaman islands on suspicion of carrying nuclear cargo was escorted to a bigger port under heavy security for further investigations, officials said on Thursday.

The MV Mu San dropped anchor off Hut Bay island in the Andaman islands two weeks ago without permission and was detained after a more than six-hour chase.

A preliminary investigation by nuclear scientists failed to detect any nuclear fuel or material on board the ship, but officials say they would continue their search for nuclear components in its consignment of sugar and continue to interrogate its 39-member crew.

“The ship has been moved to Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh state for further investigation,” Ashok Chand, a senior police officer probing the case told Reuters by telephone.

A coastguard ship and police escorted the ship as it moved out of Port Blair early on Thursday, officials said.

The ship’s consignment of sugar could be entirely offloaded and the vessel thoroughly checked for any nuclear material, officials said.

“It is not possible in the Andamans as we do not have a big port to accommodate the ship and sufficient space to keep the cargo,” a police officer, who is not authorized to speak to the media said in Port Blair.

North Korean sales of missiles and other weapons materials to tense or unstable parts of the world have long been a major concern of the United States and its allies, and its ships have been occasionally stopped and inspected.

The isolated Communist country, which has walked out of six-party talks aimed at reining in its nuclear weapons program, fired a barrage of short-range missiles in launch tests in May and exploded a nuclear device on May 25, resulting in expanded U.N. sanctions.

A new Security Council resolution banned all weapons exports from North Korea and most arms imports into the state. It also authorized U.N. member states to inspect North Korean sea, air and land cargo, requiring them to seize and destroy any goods transported in violation of the sanctions.

Additional reporting and writing by Bappa Majumdar; Editing by Alistair Scrutton and Jeremy Laurence