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Seized North Korean ship moved to Kakinada

Last Updated: Wednesday, August 19, 2009 - 13:36

New Delhi: The seized North Korean vessel ‘M V Mu San` on Wednesday left the Hut Bay in Andaman waters for Kakinada port in Andhra Pradesh where central security agencies and nuclear scientists will thoroughly search it.

The ship, escorted by the Coast Guard on its voyage to Kakinada, will be searched for any possible traces of Chemical, Biological, Radioactive and Nuclear material after offloading entire 16,500 metric tonnes of sugar it was carrying to Iraq, official sources said.
The ship`s 39-member crew, which also includes a North Korean government official, would be questioned at the port itself, they said.

The questioning of the crew got delayed due to non-availability of a Korean interpreter, they said, adding this was a unique ship where none was fluent in English.

During the initial round of questioning of the ship`s Captain, made possible with the help of a local interpreter in Andaman and Nicobar Island, it emerged that the ship was on its way to Iraq after loading sugar in Thailand, they said.

The journey of the ship to Iraq raised suspicion among security agencies as the US would not have hired a North Korean ship for transporting anything to Iraq after the UN imposed sanctions on it in June this year following conduct of nuclear tests on May 25 this year.
UN sanctions imposed on North Korea are tougher than the earlier ones which include provisions for inspection of North Korean ships in ports and on high seas, a tighter ban on arms exports, and curbing loans and money transfers to that country.
The Captain who spoke in broken English reportedly said the ship had developed a technical snag and that he had to change the piston besides carrying out some other mechanical work. The crew was instructed by their handlers to wait for fresh instructions before leaving the Indian waters.

The `M V Mu San` dropped anchor off Hut Bay island in the Andaman islands on August six without permission and was detained by the coastguard after a over six-hour chase.

The track record of the ship shows that it had anchored at Kandla port in January this year and has been frequently sailing between China and Pakistan, the sources said, adding the security agencies were now trying to ascertain the purpose of its visit to India and the agents who had dealt with the load at that time.

Scientists from Kalapakkam in Tamil Nadu have also been summoned to the port in Andhra Pradesh where after offloading sugar from the ship, various tests would be conducted to ascertain whether there was any radio-active material on the ship.

Bureau Report

First Published: Wednesday, August 19, 2009 - 13:36
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