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N. Korea criticizes maritime blockade at U.N. meeting

All Headlines 10:47 November 30, 2009

By Kim Hyun

SEOUL, Nov. 30 (Yonhap) -- North Korea argued in a recent U.N. agency meeting that maritime blockades by "certain" countries are threatening the freedom of navigation, the North's media said Monday, in what appeared to be criticism targeting the U.S.

North Korea had sent a delegation, led by Ko Nung-du, to the 26th general assembly of the International Maritime Organization held in London on Friday.

"Economic sanctions and blockades enforced by certain countries on others with political reasons have spawned incidents that are detrimental to the free navigation of container ships that have peaceful purposes and the safety of their crew, generating grave concerns to the international community," Ko was quoted by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) as saying in the assembly.

Ko's argument appeared to be a complaint against a July incident, in which the U.S. Navy tracked a North Korean ship bound for Myanmar, the Kang Nam 1, on suspicion of carrying illicit weapons, eventually causing it to turn back home. The Kang Nam was the first to be monitored under a U.N. resolution aimed at preventing the North from shipping nuclear materials. The resolution was adopted after the North's second nuclear test in May.

"In international maritime affairs, such behavior that infringes on other nations' sovereignty in defiance of international laws and the U.N. Charter should never be allowed," Ko said.

The chief delegate also said North Korea supports international efforts to fight climate change and maritime hijacking. Somali pirates reportedly hijacked a chemical tanker named the MV Theresa with 28 North Koreans on board earlier this month and were still holding them.

The North signed many treaties on the protection of the maritime environment and the navigational safety, Ko said. He did not name those treaties in detail.

North Korea joined the International Maritime Organization headquartered in Britain in 1986. Before it launched a long-range rocket in April, Pyongyang informed the U.N. agency of the time and coordinates of the Kwangmyongsong 1.


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