A ship named Kang Nam left a port in North Korea on Wednesday, Jun 17, and could be carrying missile parts or nuclear materials.
The ship appears to be heading toward Singapore, according to a senior US military source. The vessel, which the military has been tracking since its departure, could be carrying weaponry, missile parts or nuclear materials.
"It is believed to be of interest," FOX News quoted a senior US official, as saying.
This is the first suspected 'proliferator' that the US and its allies have tracked from North Korea since the United Nations authorized the world's navies to enforce compliance with a variety of UN sanctions aimed at punishing North Korea for its recent nuclear test.
The ship is currently along the coast of China, and being monitored round-the-clock by air.
The apparent violation raises the question of how the United States and its allies will respond, particularly since the UN resolution does not have a lot of teeth to it.
The resolution would not allow the United States to board the ship forcibly. Rather, US military would have to request permission to board, a request North Korea is unlikely to grant, FOX News reports.
North Korea has said that any attempt to board its ships would be viewed as an act of war and promised "100 or 1,000-fold" retaliation if provoked.
One US official said that the military could be waiting for the ship to distance itself from China before confronting it, to avoid agitating the Chinese.
The Kang Nam is known to be a ship that has been involved in proliferation activities in the past-it is "a repeat offender," according to one military source.
The ship was detained in October 2006 by authorities in Hong Kong after the North Koreans tested their first nuclear device and the UN imposed a subsequent round of sanctions.