The US Navy has intercepted a North Korean ship suspected of carrying missile technology to Myanmar two weeks ago, and after dramatic stand-off forced it to turn back, a media report said.
The US officials, however, made no announcement about the operation, The New York Times reported.
But they concede they are mystified about Myanmar’s motives. The missiles that they believed were aboard the cargo ship, M/V Light, have a range of 350 miles, meaning they could hit parts of India, China, Thailand or Laos, the report said.
In fact, after tracking the ship, that was believed to have been involved in previous illegal shipments, the American officials dispatched a Navy vessel, the destroyer McCampbell, to intercept it.
The officials have described the operation as an example of how they can use a combination of naval power and diplomatic pressure to enforce United Nations sanctions imposed after the North Korea’s last nuclear test in 2009.
“This case had an interesting wrinkle: the ship was North Korean, but it was flagged in Belize,” an US official was quoted as saying.
According to the American officials, the authorities in Belize gave permission to the US to inspect the ship.
On May 26, somewhere south of Shanghai, McCampbell caught up with the cargo ship and hailed it, asking to board the vessel under the authority given by Belize. Four times, the North Koreans refused.
But a few days later, the cargo ship stopped dead in the water and turned back to its home port, tracked by US surveillance planes and satellites, the report said.