CNN BREAKING NEWS
North Korean Ship Carrying Weapons Boarded By U.S. Officials
Aired December 10, 2002 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go live right away to the Pentagon. That's where CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr is standing by. She has breaking news on a North Korean cargo ship suspected of carrying some missile parts heading towards this part of the world. Barbara, tell us what's going on.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, at this hour, a team of U.S. military explosives specialists is onboard that ship that came out of North Korea several days ago, was watched by U.S. intelligence as it crossed the Indian Ocean and was boarded yesterday several hundred miles southeast of Yemen.
It was originally boarded by two Spanish warships that were in the region conducting part of a coalition maritime intercept operation. When the Spanish boarded the ship, which was said to be carrying cement, the looked in the cargo hold. They found containers buried in the cement. They opened one of those containers and it contained what appeared to be missile parts.
They called for assistance and as we said at this hour there is a U.S. military explosives team onboard that ship. They want to neutralize the cargo, find out whatever is onboard, make it safe. The ship is being held at this location several hundred miles southeast of Yemen. We are told they can not let it come into a port at this point because the cargo may indeed be unstable. They just are not sure what is hidden in these containers underneath the cement.
As we said, it's quite interesting. The U.S. had been watching this ship. They watched it come out of North Korea several days ago, followed it through the region and it was boarded yesterday still being held there while this suspicious cargo is being investigated -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Do we know the flag of this ship that left North Korea? I assume it's not necessarily a North Korean ship.
STARR: That's a very interesting point. It was described to us by a senior official as a stateless vessel. Apparently, it did not have much in the way of official international maritime paperwork, not clear where it was flagged, also not clear at this point to anybody exactly where this ship was headed, whether it was headed into the horn of Africa to Yemen or whether it was headed up into the Arabian Gulf for some sort of delivery to Iraq or possibly even Iran, but they have been watching the ship and stopped it far out at sea before it could get to a port -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon who's going to continue to monitor this important breaking story. We'll be checking back with you, of course, as you develop some more information. Barbara Starr at the Pentagon thanks very much.
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