, SEOUL,Jul 6 – A North Korean ship that was tracked by the US Navy on suspicion of carrying banned weapons is expected to return home later on Monday after aborting its voyage, South Korea’s defence ministry said.
"It has not yet entered North Korea. (The journey) will likely end within the day," spokesman Won Tae-Jae told a briefing.
The Kang Nam 1, which left North Korea on June 17, was originally reported to be bound for Myanmar. It changed course after being tailed by US warships.
It was the first North Korean ship to be tracked under new UN sanctions imposed on the hardline communist country on June 12 following its nuclear test in May.
Under the measures UN member states are expected to inspect ships they believe may be carrying banned weapons shipments to or from the North.
Pyongyang has responded defiantly, vowing to build more nuclear bombs and to hit back against any attempt to search its vessels. On Saturday it test-fired seven missiles in an apparent show of military strength.
The chief of US naval operations has said the Kang Nam 1 turned back because countries in the region had refused to accept its port calls.
"What we are seeing is the effect of the UN Security Council resolution that was put into effect," Admiral Gary Roughead told local media Saturday during a visit to Japan. He was scheduled to visit South Korea Monday.
Radio Free Asia, in a report last week, said Myanmar’s junta had warned North Korea that it would inspect the ship’s cargo and ban it from entering port if it carries contraband.