Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Whatever Happened to the KAng Nam?

A note from Radarsite: Despite its being at least as dangerous, in its global implications, as the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, and despite the fact that, according the rather ambiguous Korea Herald report quoted below, this looming maritime crisis still remains factually unresolved, we hear no more about it. Did the Kang Nam really turn around and head back home without discharging it deadly cargo? Did Kim Jong Ill really blink? Or as one skeptic suggests, did it already offload at some unknown port? Either way, thanks to the overwhelming event of Michael Jackson's demise, and various other more important stories, it seems that the Kang Nam crisis is no longer deemed newsworthy. It's off the front page. But it's not off our radar screen. Did the world just avert a major catastrophe? Or has the world just decided to look the other way? We will follow up on this. - rg ------------------------------------------------ From the Korea Herald

Kang Nam may be heading back home The Kang Nam, a North Korean ship suspected to be carrying illicit weapons or related material, may be headed back home, according to diplomatic sources here. "The ship is near our waters. That is about all I can say," said one diplomatic source on the condition of anonymity. Experts said this could mean that the ship is on its way back to North Korea, indicating that the latest United Nations Security Council sanctions are taking a toll on the reclusive communist state. "If the ship is on its way back, it would mean that Resolution 1874 is taking effect and causing the North to retreat," said Kim Tae-woo, vice president of the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses. It has been almost two weeks since the Kang Nam set sail on June 17, but Seoul has claimed it has no information on the whereabouts of the ship. The Kang Nam is the first North Korean ship to come under international scrutiny since the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 1874 that strongly recommends member states to help search and ground North Korean ships suspected of carrying illicit weapons or related material. Some observers said the Kang Nam may have already unloaded such items, but others said the North would wait until the last minute, as the weapons and materials constitute a vital source of funds for the impoverished regime. Myanmar, the alleged destination of the Kang Nam, has recently told the foreign press that it would not allow the ship to disembark if it is found to be indeed carrying such items. The government of Myanmar already has an idea of the items on the ship as the Kang Nam must declare them in advance, according to Foreign Ministry officials. "The fact that the Myanmarese government has spoken out, if it has as some of the news reports claim, it indicates that the resolution is working," said one Foreign Ministry official. The Myanmar Embassy here said it had no comment. A United States destroyer - USS John McCain led by Capt. Jeffrey Kim - is reportedly close on the Kang Nam's tail. But the destroyer is not authorized to forcefully search the North Korean ship. Due to these limits, critics have said the resolution needs to plug the loopholes by allowing such actions by the member states. (jemmie@heraldm.com) By Kim Ji-hyun

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