CANBERRA, Australia – Authorities are investigating whether Australian law was broken after an Australian-owned ship was seized in the United Arab Emirates carrying North Korean weapons bound for Iran, an official said Sunday.
Shipping Minister Anthony Albanese confirmed that the UAE found banned North Korean weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades, headed for Iran on the Australian-owned, Bahamas-flagged cargo ship ANL Australia.
The seizure is the first since the United Nations Security Council tightened sanctions against North Korea in June in response to its second nuclear test in May and its firing of several missiles.
Albanese told Nine Network television that Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, or DFAT, was investigating whether Australian laws enforcing U.N. sanctions against North Korea and Iran had been breached.
"We take our obligations under the U.N. Security Council resolutions seriously," he said.
A DFAT spokeswoman said containers carrying "arms and related materials" were seized by UAE customs officials. She said the seizure occurred in late July, but U.N. officials said it was early August.
"Australian laws implementing U.N. Security Council obligations apply both in Australia as well as to Australian citizens and corporations anywhere in the world," the spokeswoman said on condition of anonymity, following department policy.
She did not know what penalties could apply for breaches of the laws.
The ship is owned by Melbourne-based ANL, a subsidiary of France's CMA CGM Group, the world's third-largest container shipping line.
ANL Melbourne manager David Pratt said Sunday he was not authorized to speak to the media.