Was this a triumph of international pressure? Or will the Kang Nam sail with another shipment soon?
The quiet return to port of a small, aging North Korean freighter was almost lost beneath the waves of news reports about North Korea's cyberattack.
Analysts say that North Korea decided to call back the Kang Nam I – suspected to be laden with arms destined for Burma (Myanmar) – rather than risk inspection of its cargo while refueling in Hong Kong or Singapore or risk embarrassing its trading partner, Burma, upon arrival. The US destroyer John McCain had been closely tracking the cargo ship.
"With the publicity of the Kang Nam, I can easily imagine Myanmar authorities took a look and figured unloading of material put them in jeopardy," says Charles "Jack" Pritchard, a former US negotiator with experience with North Korea.
"The bottom line is the latest UN Security Council resolution places emphasis on member nations in terms of reporting accountability and doing things," says Mr. Pritchard, now president of the Korea Economic Institute in Washington.
That resolution (adopted after North Korea's nuclear test of May 25), he says, "has a lot more bite in it" than the one adopted after the North's first nuclear test in October 2006, which did not require recipient countries to report on cargos from North Korea.