WASHINGTON (AFP) — The United States persuaded India about three months ago to deny clearance to a North Korean flight suspected of carrying sophisticated weapons technology to Iran, a US newspaper said Tuesday.
US officials did not deny the report in The Washington Post that said Indian authorities acted in August to divert the flight that US officials suspected was carrying technology -- such as ballistic missile parts -- that could be used in a program for weapons of mass destruction.
About two months later, on October 12, Pyongyang was struck from a US terrorism blacklist in return for its agreeing to steps to verify its nuclear disarmament and save landmark negotiations from potential collapse.
The Ilyushin-62 plane owned by the North Korean state airline stopped in Myanmar on August 7 and asked for permission to fly to Iran through Indian airspace, according to the newspaper, citing unnamed US officials.
Indian officials agreed to a US request to deny clearance even though New Delhi is not part of the US-led Proliferation Security Initiative, the officials were quoted as saying.
Gordon Duguid, a State Department spokesman, said he was aware of the news report but could not comment on intelligence matters and referred reporters to the Indian government.
Asked if India took such action as part of the Proliferation Security Initiative, Duguid replied: "We would welcome India's participation in the Proliferation Security Initiative, as well as any Indian action to prevent a possible shipment of proliferation concern from transiting its territory.
"However, India is not a PSI partner nation, and has not participated in any PSI activities in the past," Duguid added.
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