According to reporting today from AP, Reuters and CNN International, among others, on 15 August the United Arab Emirates seized an Australian-owned ship, the ANL Australia, flying a Bahamian flag, bound for Iran.  The UAE has only in the past 24 hours admitted to this event, after sending notification to the United Nations, as well as to both Tehran and P’yongyang.

The cargo?  Not the oil boring machinery declared on the ship’s manifest, but rocket-propelled grenades, and other small-arms munitions made in North Korea and apparently on their way to Iran.

Diplomats said both North Korea and Iran “appeared” to be in breach of Security Council resolution 1874, which banned all arms exports from North Korea and authorized states to search suspicious ships and seize and destroy banned items.

The resolution was imposed after North Korea’s second nuclear test. The UN Security Council imposed sanctions on Pyongyang after its first test in October 2006, but the measures were never enforced, mainly because China showed no interest in seeing them implemented.  There also appears to be a Chinese and Italian connection to this transaction.

What is not so clear…and this is where the Administration comes in…is that this seizure came on 15 August…and just a few days ago, Governor Richardson of New Mexico played host to North Korean diplomats here in the US as part of the Obama effort to establish better relations with North Korea.

Surely, the Administration would have known about this breach of UN sanctions imposed on both North Korea and Iran before Richardson hosted his guests.  Might have even made it into the Presidential Daily Brief [PDB] for 16 August, if the Intelligence Community was doing its job.

Given the timing…one might also get a feeling that former-President Clinton’s “rescue mission” to P’yongyang on 4 August might have included language to the North Koreans that we’d be willing to turn a blind eye once in a while if it helped to bring them to the table?

For all that talk of smart diplomacy from the Obama Administration…seems we are being played like a cheap fiddle by the guys who know how the real world operates….Kim Jong-il and Ahmadinejad.

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