US Begins Tracking North Korean Freighter Suspected of Carrying Prohibited Materials

A North Korean ship shadowed by an American Navy destroyer and possibly heading toward Myanmar on Sunday could pose the first test of how far the United States and its allies will go under a new United Nations resolution to stop the North’s military shipments.

The United States began tracking the ship, the 2,000-ton freighter Kang Nam, after it left Nampo, a port near Pyongyang, the North’s capital, on Wednesday.

A North Korean-flagged ship under close watch in Asian waters is believed to be heading toward Myanmar carrying small arms cargo banned under a new U.N. resolution, a South Korean intelligence official said Monday.

Still, analysts say a high seas interception — something North Korea has said it would consider an act of war — is unlikely.

The Kang Nam, accused of engaging in illicit trade in the past, is the first vessel monitored under the new sanctions designed to punish the North for its defiant nuclear test last month. The U.S. military began tracking the ship after it left a North Korean port on Wednesday on suspicion it was carrying illicit weapons.