US releases North Korean missiles headed for the Middle East
Isn't it interesting that little George who is so hell bent on killing Saddam and invading Iraq because they are alleged to have weapons of mass destruction allows North Korea who in fact have nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them are ignored by Bush? Isn't North Korea the bigger threat to the United States mainland?
Well if you are really concerned about the proliferation of long range missiles with the ability to carry a nuclear war head, then North Korea is a bigger threat. But if you add in the oil factor, then North Korea is not the bigger threat.
The degree of threat to the United States from terrorist nations that form the axis of evil cannot be fully evaluated without a measure of the amount of oil the terrorist nation possesses.
And then there is the possibility that little George does not want to fight a war in Iraq and in North Korea at the same time.
US climbdown over missiles
IN AN extraordinary climb-down after a tense seaborne stand-off, the United States yesterday allowed a cargo of Scud missiles to continue its onward journey to war-torn Yemen.
The shipment of missiles from North Korea, a country the US has bitterly condemned for exporting missile technology, was released by American naval forces after angry demands from the Yemeni government.
The So San, whose course US intelligence had reportedly been tracking by satellite for weeks, was halted mid-ocean when a Spanish naval ship fired warning shots across its bow . It was handed over to US forces.
The unflagged ship was carrying about 15 Scud missiles, in crates concealed by thousands of bags of cement. The shipís manifest did not mention the missiles, nor did it make clear the vesselís final destination.
The cargo also included 15 high explosive warheads and two dozen tanks of nitric acid rocket propellant.
But Yemeni officials said yesterday that the North Korean ship was sailing on to the Arab state that is the ancestral home of Osama bin Laden.
The government has won US backing for its efforts to combat Yemeni groups tied to bin Ladenís al-Qaeda network.
But Islamic militants have become newly active since the war in Afghanistan, and support for bin Laden in tribal areas of Yemen is said to run high.
The official Yemeni news agency, Saba, said the US secretary of state, Colin Powell, had told the Yemeni president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, that the crew had returned to the ship and it was headed to Yemen.
"There is no provision under international law prohibiting Yemen from accepting delivery of missiles from North Korea," the White House spokesman, Ari Fleischer, said later.
There was authority to stop and search, but no authority to seize the shipment and "therefore the merchant vessel is being released", he said.
Yemen gave Washington assurances that it "would not transfer these missiles to anyone", he added.
Yemen had protested to both the US and Spain about the seizure, insisting the missiles were bought for its army for "defensive purposes".
But the incident threatened to raise questions over why the US is demanding Iraq destroy longer-range Scuds in its arsenal while it allows North Korea to supply missiles to Yemen.
North Korea is known to have sold the long-range Scud D, or Nodong, missile, to Pakistan, which in turn supplied North Korea with nuclear technology. It has also supplied missiles to Iran. It was unclear yesterday which version of the Scud was on board the ship.
Earlier this year, North Korea admitted developing a nuclear weapon. President George Bush included North Korea - along with Iran, and Iraq - as one of the "axis of evil" nations he has denounced.
The US secretary of defence, Donald Rumsfeld, on a tour of countries in the horn of Africa, said before the ship was released: "North Korea doesnít like to hear me say it, but they continue to be the largest proliferator of missiles and ballistic missile technology on the face of the earth."
The Bush administration in August imposed sanctions on a North Korean company, Changgwang Sinyong Corp, for selling Scud missile parts to Yemen. At that time, US authorities asked Yemen why it bought the parts, and that country apologised and promised not to do so again, two defence officials said yesterday.
The US and other countries keen to prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction have banded together under the "Missile Technology Control Regime" to try to discourage such exports.
The present shipment contained about 15 short-range missiles, missile parts and fuel, US officials said.
Yemen was the site of the al-Qaeda seaborne suicide attack on the US warship the USS Cole. A more recent attack which holed a French tanker took place off the countryís coast. The US recently killed an al-Qaeda figure - allegedly involved in the Cole attack - in a missile attack in his car in the countryís vast and mostly lawless hinterland.
Two Spanish warships involved in stopping the North Korean vessel, the Navarra and the Patino, were in the area as part of a seaborne operation set up to stop al-Qaeda members, driven from Afghanistan, fleeing by sea. The cargo ship was handed over to the US amphibious ship Nassau.
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