Burma Blinks-Refuses North Korean Cargo

Following passage of UN resolutions the military rulers of North Korea and Burma continued doing business as usual until Sunday.

Reports from Radio Free Asia indicated The Kang Nam 1 initially presumed to be bound for Burma; was refused permission to dock if the cargo ship was carrying weapons or other prohibited materials. US officials in Washington said yesterday they do not know where the ship is headed but it was 250 miles (400 kilometers) south of Hong Kong on Tuesday and slowly heading north.

The NK cargo vessel has been trailed by an American warship for more than a week on route towards Burma in what could serve as a successful implementation of the new UN non-proliferation resolution targeting DPRK. Pyongyang re-issued warnings against any attempts to board the Kang Nam 1 saying any such action would be considered an act of war.

A US delegation headed by former Ambassador Philip Goldberg left yesterday for Beijing to discuss the UN sanctions. China's cooperation is crucial in enforcing UN 1874 sanctions aimed at steering NK back to disarmament discussions.

Questions remain as to why Burma chose to reject the cargo.

It likely is a combination of accumulated pressures both external as well as internal that have caused Burma to re-think it's position. The new tactics Washington has undertaken via the Treasury Department will restrict the flow of funds available to NK and those who conduct “business” with Pyongyang.

Another potential pressure point is the international attention being revisited on Burma. With Iranians marching in protest of a brutally oppressive government; some world leaders are refocusing on the atrocities of Burma’s military junta. Laura Bush wrote an op-ed in Sunday’s Washington Post seeking to remind the world of the plight of thousands of Burmese citizens and refugees. It is a heart wrenching recitation of rape, kidnapping, human trafficking and imprisonment.

Harvard Law School, in a new report, requests U.N. Security Council to establish a "commission of inquiry" into crimes against humanity and war crimes in Burma. She writes “With U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon planning to visit Burma this summer, it is crucial that he press the regime to take immediate steps to end human rights abuses, particularly in ethnic minority areas. There have been 38 U.N. resolutions condemning these abuses, yet the horrors continue unabated. Under the junta's brutal rule too many lives have been wasted; lives whose talents could have helped all of Burma prosper.”

Shining a light of truth inevitably increases internal pressure on darkness. The combination likely made Burma think and blink.

Burma Factbook:

Overview of NK nuclear program:


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