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25 June 2009

Myanmar says expecting N Korean ship carrying ‘grains’

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As North Korea warned that "dark clouds of nuclear war" are gathering over the Korean peninsula, Myanmar state media said it was expecting a cargo ship from North Korea carrying grains, but had no news about the North Korean vessel being tracked by a US Navy destroyer under new UN sanctions. AFP reported.

North Korea on Thursday vowed to strengthen its atomic arsenal as it marked the anniversary of the 1950-1953 conflict.

Rodong Sinmun, newspaper of the ruling communist party, accused the United States and its ally South Korea of trying to provoke a new war with a bolstered US nuclear "umbrella" over the South.

Myanmar state media said a separate cargo ship from North Korea carrying thousands of tonnes of grain was due to arrive from India at the end of the week.

"It is learnt that the MV Dumangang cargo ship from DPRK (North Korea) will arrive in Myanmar about June 27 carrying 8,000 tonnes of rice from Kolkata, India," state media said.

The comments in Myanmar's government-controlled media came after US officials said a North Korean ship, the Kang Nam 1, was the first to be monitored under a UN resolution designed to punish Pyongyang over a nuclear test and could be headed to Myanmar.

It said that foreign media had been "spreading reports these days that the Kang Nam cargo ship which left Nampo port, North Korea on June 17 was heading to Myanmar."

No information was available regarding "this Kang Nam cargo ship" it added.

A US defence official said on Monday that the Kang Nam 1 was being tracked by a US Navy destroyer under the UN sanctions adopted following this month's underground atomic test by North Korea and could be headed to Myanmar.

The Aegis destroyer USS John S McCain was continuing to shadow the cargo ship.

South Korea's YTN television news channel, citing an unnamed intelligence source, reported on Sunday the ship was suspected of carrying missiles or related parts and was heading for Myanmar via Singapore.

The 2,000-tonne ship left the western North Korean port of Nampo on June 17, with Myanmar set as its final destination, YTN said.

Myanmar and hardline communist North Korea, both of which are severely criticised internationally for human rights abuses, restored diplomatic relations in 2007.

Myanmar severed ties with Pyongyang in 1983 following a failed assassination attempt by North Korean agents on then-South Korean president Chun Doo-Hwan during his visit to the Southeast Asian nation.

The bombing killed 17 of Chun's entourage including cabinet ministers while four Myanmar officials also died.

Myanmar, ruled by the military since 1962, and North Korea have been branded "outposts of tyranny" by the United States, which imposes sanctions on both.

Meanwhile, Singapore’s maritime and port authority said it has not received any information that a North Korean ship being tracked by the US military had requested to dock in the city-state.

"The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore has not been informed of any intention by Kang Nam 1 to call at the Port of Singapore," the authority said in a statement.

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said last week that the government will take action if it is true that the vessel is carrying materials banned under UN sanctions.

Since it left the western North Korean port of Nampo on June 17, the Kang Nam 1 has been shadowed by a US Navy destroyer under UN sanctions on suspicion of carrying missiles or related parts.


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