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US Set Free North Korean Cargo Ship with Scuds

Posted December. 12, 2002 22:28,   


On Wednesday, the United States has set to sail the North Korean freighter Sosan that was intercepted by Spanish warships in the high seas near Yemen on December 9. The freighter was in custody of the United States authorities. Consequently, Sosan carrying 15 Scud missiles headed for Yemen again.

White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said during the regular briefing, "There is no international law authorizing us to hold the delivery of North Korean missiles to Yemen. In this case, [the United States] has the authority to stop and search the [North Korean] freighter. But we don`t have the authority to hold the vessel from going to Yemen."

He added, "Yemen promised to us that it would not hand the missiles over to anyone else." Before releasing the ship, Yemen`s president talked with US Vice President Dick Cheney and reportedly explained that the missiles were ordered for defense purposes. Then, the Yemenis president strongly demanded that US should release the North Korean ship.

Secretary of State Colin Powel commented that Yemenis president explained that the missiles on the ship were the last delivery of the order made several years ago. Then he said that the Yemenis president promised that there would be no more transaction of this nature.

Sosan, at the time of interception, was carrying 15 Scud missiles and 23 rocket-fuel capsules.

In the meanwhile, Under Secretary of State Richard Armitage, who was visiting China, said that this case was sending a message to Pyongyang, telling it, "We know what you are doing and where you are. You can`t hide from us."

Regarding the freighter incident, one senior North Korean official to the U.N. said in an interview with a Japanese paper, "Interception of the freighter means a big mistake." The North Korean government pointed out the missile export by the United States and criticized, "The United States is selling missiles in mass. It is not in a position to talk about the missile threat."

In the meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi confirmed his intention of continuing Japan`s normalization talks with North, despite the interception of North Korean cargo ship carrying missiles. According to the Asahi Shinbum, he said yesterday, "That has nothing to do with the normalization talks. "

Ki-Heung Han eligius@donga.com