India has detained an empty North Korean cargo ship bound for Iran after it strayed into Indian waters, baffling coast guard officials and police about the purpose of its voyage.Hmmm.
"MV Omrani-II" developed a snag and entered Indian waters on October 29 and was towed to the Mumbai Port where the crew was being questioned by Indian intelligence and customs officials.
"The crew has not been able to explain why they were sailing an empty vessel to Iran," a senior coast guard official told Reuters on condition of anonymity on Thursday.
However a senior official at the Directorate General of Shipping said: "They have told us that because it is a new ship they were testing it. But it is strange that they should need to sail as far as Iran."
Officials said documents for the new 45-metre vessel were in order, although life-saving equipment was found to be deficient.
A U.N. Security Council resolution imposing sanctions on North Korea after its October 9 nuclear test calls on U.N. members to take steps, including "as necessary" the inspection of cargoes to and from North Korea to prevent illicit trafficking in nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
But Indian officials said they were not acting at the behest of the U.N. but simply because a suspicious ship had entered Indian waters.
Indian officials said they wanted to ensure that the ship was not hiding any contraband or being used to ferry material related to North Korea or Iran's nuclear programmes. Pyongyang said last month that it had tested a nuclear device, while Iran says it is enriching its uranium to build nuclear power plants, rejecting Western concerns that it was planning to build a bomb.
Thursday, November 09, 2006