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Korea bomb could be sent by sea, analyst warns

Brendan Nicholson / The Age | October 16 2006

A STRATEGIC analyst has warned that North Korea could use a ship to smuggle its large and unsophisticated bomb to a target, as Australia indicated it might ban the renegade state's ships from its ports.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said yesterday Australia's response to North Korea's nuclear test was likely to be robust, but it was too early to say whether Australian naval ships would help police the sanctions approved by the United Nations Security Council.

Mr Downer said the UN measures allowed the interception and searching of vessels carrying military goods into and out of North Korea depending on where the ships were and what flag they were flying.

A number of countries would also ban North Korean ships from their ports, Mr Downer said.

"We haven't made a final decision about that, but that's something that we may very well do ourselves, bearing in mind the unhappy experience we had of the Pong Su some years ago, bringing drugs into Australia."

Physicist Andrew Davies, of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said the bomb tested by North Korea appeared to have been a crude device and "a bit of a dud in terms of its yield".

The chances of North Korea being able to build a bomb small enough to be dropped from an aircraft was pretty far-fetched at this stage, Dr Davies said. "I think the most realistic delivery mechanism they've got is to float one into a harbour with either a ship or a submarine."

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