23 October 2016

Mexico begins scrapping North Korean ship: local media

Scrap will be sold to cover the cost of the operation

The Mu Du Bong in Mexico, spotted by Curtis Melvin. Image: Google Earth

Mexico has removed and begun scrapping a North Korean vessel which crashed into its coastline over two years ago, according to local media.

The scrapping will be conducted by a local company called San Miguel, who will sell the scrap to cover the costs of the operation, according to an article from Noticieros Televisa published recently.

“It means moving the ship from the port where it was, which is called Duque de Alba that belongs to the Port Authority, to a specialized terminal called Demeresa to begin scrapping the vessel,” Alberto Orozco Peredo, harbourmaster of the local port, told the Mexican media outlet.

Mexican authorities decided to move the sanctioned ship as it was becoming a danger to the environment, an earlier report said. The decision to finally scrap the vessel puts an end to any North Korean hopes of the ship’s return.

The North Korean government protested furiously over the ship’s seizure and continued detention, even causing a minor diplomatic incident in 2015 at the UN. Since then, DPRK media has continued to protest Mexico’s decision to seize the ship, claiming it was used for legitimate business purposes.

The Mu Du Bong struck a local reef in 2014 on a return trip from Cuba. The ship was owned by Ocean Maritime Management (OMM) – a known North Korean weapons smuggler – and was subsequently held in accordance with UN resolutions.

But the drawn out process of seizing the vessel took over two years. During that time the Mexican Government only issued one statement, saying the country was following the will of the UN Security Council (UNSC).

“The Foreign Ministry stressed that this situation is not due to any dispute of a bilateral nature and that the decision not to authorize the release of the ship derives solely from the need to comply with international obligations,” a translation of the statement released last year reads.

The case represents the only time a UN member state has seized one of OMM’s assets. Even the Chong Chon Gang, another OMM ship caught with weapons aboard when sailing through the Panama Canal a year earlier, was eventually released.

Even if the Mexican authorities had returned the ship, its subsequent addition to a further UN blacklist this year would have limited its usefulness. An NK Pro report yesterday revealed that some of the country’s sanctioned vessels seem restricted to moving flood relief supplies between North Korean ports.

Source: NK news. 18 October 2016

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