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TOKYO: Japan has seized aluminium alloy rods which can be used to make nuclear centrifuges from a Singapore-flagged ship which was carrying cargo from North Korea, a government spokesman said yesterday.
The five rods were discovered on the ship during its call at Tokyo port last August and were confirmed to be aluminium alloy through tests conducted over the past six months, said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.
“The aluminium alloy is extremely strong and can be used in centrifuges, that are products related to nuclear development,” Suga told a regular news briefing.
The rods had been stored at a private warehouse and the Japanese government ordered the firm yesterday to hand them over.
It was the first such handover under a special law passed in 2010 to enable Tokyo to inspect North Korea-related ships suspected of carrying materials that could be used in nuclear and missile programmes.
According to media reports, the ship was on its way to Myanmar when it arrived in Tokyo via the Chinese port of Dalian.
The spokesman confirmed the ship arrived via Dalian but said only that the cargo was bound for a “third country”.
The North has conducted three nuclear weapons tests, in 2006, 2009 and last month, and disclosed in 2010 that it is developing a programme to enrich uranium using centrifuges.