A United Nations treaty designed to stop the carriage of weapons of mass destruction by sea has not been ratified by a single country, including the United States, despite its being formally agreed a year ago.
The shortcoming emerged as world powers this week grappled with enforcing U.N. sanctions on North Korea that include the inspection of seaborne cargo and possible ship searches in international waters.
Countries party to U.N. International Maritime Organisation (IMO) laws agreed to the new convention in London last October.
The Suppression of Unlawful Acts (SUA) at sea convention makes it illegal for merchant ship
s to carry WMD and engage in acts of terrorism on the high seas.
It also sets out procedures for the world's navies to stop and inspect ships flying the flag of another country.
The world's oceans have been likened by many security experts to the Wild West amid scores of examples of smuggling of arms, drugs and people.
At the time, Secretary-General Efthimious Mitropoulos urged countries to ratify quickly so that the global shipping industry was fully armed to counteract "the gravest menace it had ever faced".
But the IMO said on Thursday that not a single country had ratified the law yet, not even the United States which had pushed so hard for the treaty in the first place.