Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Just in from the Department of Homeland Security- National Terror Alert.

"The North Korean ship tracked by the US Navy and suspected of transporting weapons or military know-how in violation of UN sanctions has turned around, a Pentagon official said
(See "U.S. AND NORTH KOREA HEADED FOR SHOWDOWN" POST BELOW). The official declined to provide details, including where the Kang Nam 1 ship — reportedly originally bound for Myanmar — could now be headed, but news reports out of South Korea suggested the ship may be returning home two weeks after it set sail June 17.

A diplomatic source speaking on condition of anonymity told the Korea Herald that the ship was 'near our waters,' which could suggest that sanctions were having an effect on reclusive North Korea.

'If the ship is on its way back, it would mean that Resolution 1874 is taking effect and causing the North to retreat,' Kim Tae-woo, vice president of the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, told the newspaper.

The Kang Nam 1 quickly drew the attention of the US military under new UN sanctions designed to punish Pyongyang over its May 25 underground nuclear test.

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, confirmed Sunday that the United States was tracking the cargo ship.

U.S. Navy tracking Kang Nam 1

'Obviously we’re pursuing and following the progress of that ship very closely,' she told the CBS network."

Source: This story came to DECLASSIFIED SECRETS via Homeland Security - National Terror Alert. National Terror Alert is America's trusted source for homeland security news and information and this site subscribe to it.

The Kang Nam 1 has a questionable history, according to intelligence experts: The ship had cleared the Taiwan Strait and was hugging the Chinese mainland. Intelligence experts were pondering if the Kang Nam may need to stop in some port to refuel. In the past, the Kang Nam stopped in Hong Kong's port.

A U.S. defense official said he tended to doubt reports that the Kang Nam was carrying nuclear-related equipment, saying information seems to indicate the cargo is banned conventional munitions. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity in order to talk about intelligence.

North Korea has carried banned goods to Myanmar before on the Kang Nam, said Bertil Lintner, a Bangkok-based North Korea expert who has written a book about leader Kim Jong Il.

North Korea has been helping the junta in Yangon build up its weapons arsenal, a South Korean intelligence expert said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The two regimes, among Asia's most repressive, restored diplomatic ties in 2007. Not long after that, in April 2007, the Kang Nam docked at Thilawa port saying it needed shelter from bad weather. But one expert said reports show the weather was clear then, and two local journalists working for a foreign news agency who went to write about the unusual docking were arrested.

The North Korean cargo ship Kang Nam 1 anchored in Hong Kong waters in Oct. 24, 2006. "The Kang Nam unloaded a lot of heavy equipment in 2007," Lintner said. "Obviously, the ship was carrying something very sensitive at that time as well."

North Korea has also helped Myanmar dig tunnels in recent years, said Lintner, adding that the cash-strapped North may have received rice, rubber and minerals in return for its military and other assistance. "North Korea appears to have exported conventional weapons to Myanmar in exchange for food," another expert said.

Pyongyang is believed to have transported digging equipment to Myanmar, which is seeking to make its new capital a fortress with vast underground facilities, he said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence.

Note: This info was collected from Associated Press writers Hyung-jin Kim and Jae-soon Chang in Seoul, and Pauline Jelinek in Washington, contributed to this report.

Brief on Kang Nam 1: This 3-year old, 2006 news report on the Kang Nam 1 reported suspicions of arms smuggling:

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