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United Arab Emirates seized Iran-bound ship with North Korean arms

The seizure several weeks ago was the first of its kind since stricter U.N. sanctions against North Korea were imposed in June.

August 29, 2009|Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS — The United Arab Emirates this month seized a cargo ship bound for Iran with a cache of banned arms from North Korea, the first such seizure since sanctions against North Korea were ramped up, diplomats and officials said Friday.

The seizure was carried out in accordance with tough new U.N. Security Council sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.

Diplomats identified the ship as a Bahamian-flagged cargo vessel, the ANL Australia, and said it was carrying rocket-propelled grenades and other arms. The diplomats and officials spoke on condition of anonymity.

The United Arab Emirates, a hub for Iranian goods, seized the ship several weeks ago. The Bahamas is a common country of registry for vessels, but it wasn't immediately clear who owns the ship or where it is based.

"We can confirm that the UAE detained a North Korean vessel containing illicit cargo," a Western diplomat said.

The Security Council's latest resolution came in the wake of North Korea's second nuclear test and firing of six short-range rockets this spring.

The ship's seizure and reported violation of a United Nations arms embargo was reported by the Emirates in a confidential letter two weeks ago to the council's sanctions committee for North Korea, consisting of diplomats from all 15 nations on the Security Council and is headed by Turkey's U.N. ambassador, according to diplomats and officials.

The Financial Times first reported the weapons seizure Friday.

The Security Council imposed tough new sanctions on North Korea on June 12, strengthening an arms embargo and authorizing ship searches on the high seas to try to rein in its nuclear program after Pyongyang's nuclear test May 25, which violated a council resolution adopted after North Korea's first nuclear blast three years ago.

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