Washington, Nov 5 : The United States thwarted a suspect shipment from North Korea to Iran by persuading the Indian Government to deny clearance for the North Korean flight to travel through Indian airspace, US officials have said.
Nine weeks after the flight was diverted in August, the Bush Administration removed North Korea from the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism in a bid to salvage an accord to end Pyongyang's nuclear programs, the Washington Post reported.
US officials suspect that the North Korean plane, an Ilyushin-62 jet owned by the North Korean state airline, was carrying sophisticated technology -- such as ballistic missile parts -- that could be used in a program for weapons of mass destruction.
The jet stopped in Burma on August 7 and sought permission to cross Indian airspace to reach Iran. India is not part of the US-led Proliferation Security Initiative, but officials in New Delhi agreed to an American request to deny access, the officials said. This was very, very important," said a senior US official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the incident involved US intelligence. "It was frankly a success that we stopped North Korea from doing this."
The Indian Government declined to comment. A UN Security Council resolution, passed in 2006 after Pyongyang tested a nuclear weapon, ordered the suspension of North Korea's ballistic missile sales and purchases.
During the talks on its nuclear programs, North Korea has pledged to halt proliferation activities.
But questions have persisted over whether such sales continue, including the country's suspected involvement in the building of a nuclear reactor in Syria that Israeli jets destroyed in 2007.