The United States Navy intercepted a North Korean shipment carrying missile technology to Burma — officially known as Myanmar — and forced the vessel to return home, according to a report in the New York Times.
After several days of using diplomatic pressure, the United States forced Pyongyang to recall the ship, the M/V Light, two weeks ago.
American officials told the Times that they used naval power and diplomatic pressure to prevent North Korea from sharing potentially dangerous technology with the rogue country of Burma and enforce U.N. sanctions on the North.
Burma, is a nation in Southeast Asia ruled by an authoritarian government with little regard for international norms.
A similar shipment suspected of carrying missile parts successfully made it from North Korea to Burma last year before the United States had time to interfere.
There has been a growing fear among Burmese analysts that North Korea has been trading missile technology and supplies with the country’s autocratic government.
“Military-run Myanmar’s growing weapons ambitions, including new revelations that the reclusive regime is producing long-range Scud-type missiles with North Korean assistance, threaten to destabilize the region and make the Southeast Asian country a new global weapons proliferation hotspot,” Burmese expert and author Bertil Lintner wrote in Asia Times Online in March.
Secret U.S. cables leaked by Wikileaks in December also indicated that Burma might be using North Korea’s help to build a nuclear program.
The cables indicated that witnesses had seen North Korean workers helping Burma build an underground bunker in a remote area possibly for a missile and nuclear site, BBC reports.
“The move underlines concern that the Burmese regime might be trying to build a nuclear weapon, despite denials,” it states.
Burma has denied buying missiles or parts from North Korea.
There have also been reports of North Korea exchanging missile technology with Iran.
A U.N. Security Council resolution prohibits North Korea from exporting arms and authorizes member states to inspect North Korean cargo, the Associated Press reports.