U.N. envoys suspect seized N. Korea ship may be breach of sanctions

Concern is growing among envoys of U.N. Security Council members that a North Korean ship seized by Panama after sailing from Cuba may be violating the arms trade embargo on the Asian country imposed by the council.

Mark Lyall Grant, the British ambassador, told reporters on Wednesday, "Clearly, the facts still need to be established...on face of it, the transfer of these weapons to North Korea would be a violation of the sanctions regime on North Korea and therefore there are questions that need to be answered."

Rosemary A. DiCarlo, acting U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told reporters Tuesday that "shipments of arms or related materials to and from (North) Korea ... would violate Security Council resolutions -- three of them as a matter of fact."

"Obviously, this shipment, if it's confirmed to have what we suspect, would be of interest to the (U.N.) Sanctions Committee," she said. The United States holds the rotating presidency of the 15-member council for the month.

Martin Nesirky, spokesperson for Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, said Ban is aware of the discovery by the Panamanian authorities of a weapons shipment on the North Korean ship from Cuba.

He noted that U.N. member states are obliged to implement Security Council resolutions.

Panama announced Monday that it seized a North Korean ship with undeclared military materials at a northern port and detained its crewmembers. North Korea and Cuba have said that the ship bound for the North was carrying "aging" or "obsolete" weapons to be overhauled and sent back to Cuba.

==Kyodo