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`N Korean ship had no business to be in Indian waters`

Last Updated: Saturday, August 8, 2009 - 15:52

Zeenews Bureau

Port Blair: With questions still looming large over the suspicious North Korean ship detained by the Coast Guard in the Indian waters on Friday, Navy Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta today said there was nothing to panic.

Admiral Mehta clarified that no suspicious thing has been found on the ship so far. He however added agencies were still searching the vessel.

Navy chief further said that MV San "had no business" to be in Indian waters and that the maritime security agencies had fears that it could be carrying nuclear components.

"The fact is that the ship had no business to be there," he said, adding "that (it was carrying nuclear
components) was our apprehension also. At the moment, it is carrying genuine merchandise."
Meanwhile, one information that the Coast Guard could extract from M V San`s captain was that the ship had entered the Indian waters, about 65 nautical miles south of Port Blair
due to a mechanical fault, which could not be corroborated.

"There are a few inconsistencies, which have been found about the ship, like some papers are not in order," he

Meanwhile the captain of the ship has told investigators that they illegally entered the territorial waters due to mechancial problems.

However, the name of ship`s captain was not revealed.

The Coast Guard had detained the suspicious ship with 39 crew members on board late Friday. The ship, MV San, had dropped anchor off Andaman and Nicobar coast without taking permission from Indian authorities.

The ship, which had embarked on its journey from Thailand on July 27 with 1,600 tonnes of sugar to be shipped off to Iraq, stopped at Singapore without permission and then moved ahead without proper passport stamping done.

On Friday afternoon, the Indian Coast Guard received information about the ship approaching its waters. The ship did not reply to the signals sent from the Coast Guard’s helicopter flying over the vessel. After six hours, a Coast Guard ship chased down the North Korean ship and the vessel finally obeyed after Coast Guards fired in the air.
The ship was found dropping its anchor at Hut Bay of Andaman & Nicobar Islands without any permission. Even the log book of the vessel was found to be vague.

Speaking to media KR Nautiyal, DIG Coast Guard, Andaman said, “There is language problem which is delaying the investigations. The vessel may be short of documents that’s why they tried to flee the spot.”

“We are in touch with ship’s agents in India and all people concerned with the vessel are being contacted. We are in possession of the ship and are still probing the ship. Expert
agencies, including Korean interpreters, are likely to come to
facilitate better communication, because they (crew members)
are not very good in English,” Nautiyal added.

North Korea has been accused of transporting nuclear components in the past as well to Pakistan and Iran. Recently, Myanmar also reported to be involved in its nuclear plans the situation has become more alarming.
Nautiyal however refused to comment on the possibility of nuclear fuel being transported through the ship, saying the matter is still being probed.

Media reports said that the destination of the ship was changed by its agents after it left Thailand.

First Published: Saturday, August 8, 2009 - 15:52

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