A North Korean vessel suspected of carrying banned items recently sailed back home from international waters after fearing it would be searched if it docked at a foreign port, sources said Sunday.
It was not clear where the ship was headed or what it was carrying, but the vessel returned home at the end of last month after drifting in international waters near Southeast Asia, the government sources said.
North Korea has been under multiple international and United Nations sanctions for its missile and nuclear tests. Under Resolution 1874, adopted by the U.N. Security Council in June 2009, the communist state has been subject to an overall arms embargo, as well as financial sanctions and interdiction of cargo on the high seas to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, missiles and other weapons of mass destruction.
“If a vessel with suspicious cargo calls at a foreign port, that country’s government is required under Resolution 1874 to conduct a search and take other appropriate actions,” one source said on the condition of anonymity. “The vessel in question seems to have sailed back after sensing it would be searched if it stopped at a foreign harbor.”
Another government source, also requesting anonymity, said the ship’s return was an indication of the international community’s close cooperation in implementing sanctions against North Korea.
“Our government requested that the relevant nations in Southeast Asia conduct a search within their territorial waters, and they actively cooperated,” he said. “This shows that the sanctions against North Korea are working effectively, as the North’s exports of military supplies are being blocked.”
The sources also said they expect the sanctions to have significantly reduced North Korea’s weapons exports, a main source of hard currency for the cash-strapped nation.