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India detains ‘suspect’ North Korean sugar ship

The Indian coastguard has detained a “suspicious” North Korean ship carrying a cargo of sugar off the Andaman and Nicobar Islands after a more than six-hour chase, a daily said on Saturday.

The MV Musen dropped anchor off Hut Bay island on Wednesday without permission, the newspaper said. When a coastguard vessel approached, the ship tried to escape, forcing coast guard officers to fire in the air. The ship finally obeyed. Preliminary inspections found that the vessel was carrying sugar, the newspaper said.

A detailed inspection would be carried out on Saturday. North Korean sales of missiles and other weapons materials to tense or unstable parts of the world have long been a major concern of the United States and its allies and its ships are frequently stopped and inspected.

The isolated Communist country, which has walked out of six-party talks aimed at reining in its nuclear weapons programme, fired a barrage of short-range missiles in launch tests in May and exploded a nuclear device on May25, resulting in tougher UN sanctions that it has ignored.

In four publicly known cases between 1992-2003 in which North Korean vessels were stopped on suspicion of shipping weapons of mass destruction components or chemicals, none was prosecuted because the cargo was either undetermined, legal or “dual-use,” a British expert said in March

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