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Seized ship inspected for second time at Kakinada port

August 24, 2009 19:55 IST

The seized North Korean ship was inspected for the second time on Monday, for any trace of nuclear material after it reached Kakinada port in Andhra Pradesh. During its preliminary probe, a team of nuclear scientists from Kalapakkam ruled out prima facie any existence of any "CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radioactive and Nuclear) traces" in the ship, which was earlier inspected at Port Blair where it dropped anchor off Hut Bay island on August 6, without permission. However, a final scientific test would again be conducted after the ship carrying nearly 3.30 lakh gunny bags of sugar weighing 16,500 metric tonnes would be off-loaded from MV Mu San, official sources said.

The scientists had conducted a test for CBRN in Port Blair but found nothing in the ship carrying 39-member crew, including a North Korean government official. During the initial round of questioning of the captain, made possible with the help of a local interpreter in the Andaman and Nicobar islands, it emerged that the ship was on its way to Iraq after loading sugar in Thailand, they said. The journey of the ship to Iraq raised suspicion among security agencies as the US would not have hired a North Korean ship for transporting anything to Iraq after the UN imposed sanctions on it in June this year following conduct of nuclear tests on May 25 this year.

UN sanctions imposed on North Korea are tougher than the earlier ones which include provisions for inspection of North Korean ships in ports and on high seas, a tighter ban on arms exports, and curbing loans and money transfers to that country. The track record of the ship shows that it had anchored at Kandla port in January this year and has been frequently sailing between China and Pakistan, the sources said, adding the security agencies were now trying to ascertain the purpose of its visit to India and the agents who had handled the load at that time. The seized ship, detained by the coastguard after an over six-hour chase, is also likely to be booked under the Indian Maritime Act for entering the Indian waters illegally.

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