Catching mysterious North Korean ships

Nothing on board. Not everything above board either.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1718 calls for countries to inspect cargo to and from North Korea. This is part of the punishment imposed on Kim Jong Il’s regime after it conducted nuclear weapons tests this October. But it is not under this resolution that Indian Coast Guard authorities detained MV Omrani-II, an empty North Korean cargo ship that strayed into its waters en route to Iran. They detained it, well, because it was a suspicious ship that had strayed into India’s territorial waters. Which is such a prudent thing to do. In the past North Korean ships have been caught shipping missile parts to Pakistan and suspected to be carrying illegal arms destined for India’s Arabian sea coast.

Asked why the ship was empty and so far from home, the North Korean crew appears to have claimed that they were merely test-driving (test-sailing) a new ship. Breaking it in, you know! It is being suspected [via RapidRecon/ThreatsWatch] that the ship had thrown its cargo overboard when it ran into trouble at sea. Its destination was Iran. The crew speaks only Korean (obviously), the North Koreans themselves are keeping mum and since no one really likes all the suspense, there is a hunt on in Mumbai for a Korean interpreter.

But that’s not the only suspicious North Korean ship in India’s maritime neighbourhood. Another one turned up in Myanmar this week, and because American authorities were tracking it and Japan had some influence over the Myanmarese junta, that ship was inspected. The Myanmarese authorities found everything to be above board. And everyone else has to take their word for it.