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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 November 2006, 15:25 GMT
France searches N Korean vessel
A North Korean ship (file pic)
North Korean ships can be searched in territorial waters
French officials in the Indian Ocean have inspected a North Korean ship under the terms of UN Security Council sanctions adopted against Pyongyang.

The ship was examined on the island of Mayotte, but there were no reports it was carrying any illegal cargo.

It is believed to be the first time a North Korean vessel has been inspected under Security Council Resolution 1718.

The resolution imposed sanctions on North Korea after it carried out a nuclear test in October.

The measures are aimed at preventing North Korea from acquiring or spreading nuclear technology.

Bans sale to, or export from, N Korea of military hardware
Bans sale or export of nuclear and missile related items
Bans sale of luxury goods
Freezes finances and bans travel of anyone involved in nuclear, missile programmes
Allows inspection of cargo to and from N Korea
Stresses new resolution needed for further action

Customs officials carried out a "thorough and complete inspection" of the ship, its crew and its contents, a spokesman for France's foreign ministry said.

"We are exercising particular vigilance regarding cargo transported by North Korean ships, and all ships starting from or heading to North Korea," he said.

The Associated Press news agency quoted a customs official as saying that no weapons, drugs or other prohibited material had been found on the ship or the 45-strong crew after a search "from bow to stern and top to bottom".

Nuclear crisis

North Korea carried out a nuclear test on 9 October.

The test brought swift and widespread international condemnation, including criticism from China, seen as close to Pyongyang, and the US.

Yongbyon plant, North Korea
North Korea does not allow inspection of its nuclear sites.

The UN Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1718 on 14 October.

Six-nation talks on the continuing crisis - also involving South Korea, Japan and Russia - are expected to resume soon.

The talks broke down last year when North Korea opposed financial sanctions imposed by the US.

However, Japan has signalled its opposition to any talks held while North Korea still retains nuclear weapons.

US intelligence estimates suggest that North Korea may have a "handful" nuclear weapons, although any bombs are not thought to be small enough to be delivered by missile.

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