North Korean freighter Mu Du Bong Mu Du Bong, aground last year. marine insight/

N. Korea to Mexico: give us back our ship

But it remains in Tuxpan, its owner under UN sanction

North Korea accused Mexico today of “forcibly” detaining a ship that ran aground off Veracruz last summer.

Last July, the 6,700-tonne freighter Mu Du Bong struck a reef 13 kilometers northeast of the port of Tuxpan, where it has been moored ever since.

That same month, the United Nations Security Council sanctioned the ship’s registered owner, Pyongyang-registered Ocean Maritime Management Company, after Panamanian authorities found another of its ships was carrying two Cuban fighter jets, missiles and live munitions under a cargo of sugar.

Mexico says the Mu Du Bong struck the Lobos-Tuxpan coral reef, doing serious environmental damage to a natural protected area, and is holding the ship and its crew accordingly.

The Mexican mission to the U.N. also said it is acting in accordance with its international obligations and as a member state of the U.N. While the investigation into the accident continues, and because of the sanction against the ship’s owner, the ship will remain in port, it said.

Today, a North Korean representative at the U.N. warned his country will “take the measures necessary to enable the ship to set sail immediately.” An Myong Hun said the vessel is strictly a commercial one, and has more than 50 crew members on board.

However, Mexican officials say there are 33, all of whom are being well taken care of and accommodated in a hotel in Tuxpan, where they are in “good physical, moral and psychological condition.”

The Washington Post reports that North Korea was asked to post a US $770,000 bond for damaging the reef. An Myong Hun said his country has paid the bond and has no legal obligation to wait to move the ship.

Sources: Washington Post (en), El Universal (sp)

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