Kang Nam I Turns Around, Heads North

U.S. officials said Tuesday that a North Korean ship has turned around and is headed back in the direction it came from, after being tracked for more than a week by American Navy vessels on suspicion of carrying illegal weapons.

The move keeps the U.S. and the rest of the international community guessing: Where is the Kana Nam going? Does its cargo include materials banned by a new U.N. anti-proliferation resolution?  [AP, Pauline Jelinek]

The ship apparently turned around last Sunday, and we’re just finding out now.
What happened?  I can offer some guesses:

  • Burma, or whatever the destination was, decided that it didn’t want this headache and waved them off, or made it known that it would inspect the cargo in port.  If so, that might be the result of honest-to-goodness smart diplomacy, for which the administration deserves some cred.
  • The old rust bucket threw a rod.
  • The old rust bucket didn’t have enough fuel to make it to a “safe” port.
  • We made it known that we were prepared to stop and board the ship.  Also smart diplomacy, if true.

If you’re so inclined, you can add a fifth possibility:

  • Kim Jong Il bowed to the awesome moral authority of an unenforceable U.N. resolution.

One thing is certain:  whatever is in those cargo holds, the North Koreans don’t want us to know what it is.

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