N Korean Ship Docks in Burma
covering burma and southeast asia
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N Korean Ship Docks in Burma

By The Associated Press Monday, May 21, 2007


A cargo ship from North Korea docked in Burma o­n Sunday in what was believed to be the first port call by a ship from the Communist nation since the two countries agreed last month to resume diplomatic relations.

The Kang Nam I docked at Thilawa port, 30 kilometers (20 miles) south of Rangoon, said witnesses who asked not to be named for fear of breaching security regulations.

Burma permitted a North Korean cargo ship in distress to anchor at a port in November last year and conducted an inspection o­n board that "found no suspicious material or military equipment."

The incident grabbed attention because of suspicions that North Korea supplies weapons and weapons technology to Burma. Both countries are pariah states, shunned by much of the international community, and Pyongyang has a record of exporting missiles and other weapons to countries which might not otherwise be able to obtain such armaments.

It was not known what kind of cargo the Kang Nam I was carrying or whether Burmese authorities have conducted an inspection of the vessel.

Last October, the UN Security Council unanimously approved sanctions that included inspections of North Korean ships. The UN measures were prompted by North Korea's nuclear test o­n October 9.

The Kang Nam I was detained in Hong Kong less than two weeks after the sanctions were passed, amid rumors that the United States had asked for it to be searched o­n suspicion it was carrying weapons or other contraband.

But Hong Kong port authorities said the ship was held because of safety violations after inspectors found faulty navigational, firefighting and safety equipment o­n board, as well as outdated nautical charts. North Korean ships are notorious for poor maintenance, and often in violation of port safety rules.

Burma and North Korea, two of Asia's most authoritarian countries, signed an agreement last month to resume diplomatic ties. Ties had been severed in 1983 after a fatal bombing carried out by North Korean spies seeking to assassinate South Korea's then-President Chun Doo-hwan during a visit to Rangoon.

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