The Japanese government confirmed on Monday that a Singapore-flagged ship carrying cargo from North Korea that was searched last August was transporting aluminum alloy rods. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that tests had been conducted on the five rods over the last six months, confirming that they are aluminum alloy, an extremely strong material used to make nuclear centrifuges.
This is the first such seizure by Tokyo since a law was passed in 2010 that allows Japan to inspect ships carrying nuclear or weapons related materials to or from North Korea. The ship in question in this case was on its way to Myanmar when it made a port call in Tokyo after departing from Dalian, China. Sanctions passed by the United Nations require member countries to inspect cargo believed to be related to Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons development.
North Korea carried out its third nuclear test detonation earlier this year, following similar condemned actions in 2006 and 2009. In 2010 the country revealed a program to enrich uranium using centrifuges, thus the aluminum alloy, giving it a second method of producing atomic weapons material after its plutonium program. During the many years of Myanmar’s military rule, the country was suspected of cooperating with North Korea on its nuclear developments. But as rapid political reforms began in 2011, the U.S. has stated that it is clear the Southeast Asian nation has reduced its relationship with the isolated North.
[via Economic Times]
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