Seoul holds second ship over 'oil transfers' to North Korea

Marie Harrington
January 1, 2018

The revelation comes days after South Korea said it was holding a Hong Kong-flagged ship and crew members over transferring petroleum products to a North Korean vessel in worldwide waters in October.

On Thursday, Chinese officials were forced to deny reports that Chinese ships had carried out similar trans-shipments of fuel at sea to North Korean vessels after the USA released images from satellites showing the Rye Song Gang 1 connected to a Chinese tanker by hoses.

The ship, seized at Yeosu Port on November 24, is suspected of transferring 600 tons of refined petroleum to a North Korean ship named Samjong No. 2.

The ship, loaded with the Japanese refined petroleum, was claimed to be heading to Taiwan.

"This marks a typical case of North Korea shrewdly circumventing UN Security Council sanctions by using its illegal networks", a South Korean Foreign Ministry official said.

A Reuters report on Friday also cited two unnamed European intelligence agencies saying that tankers operating out of the Russian Far East were also transferring oil to North Korea at sea.

South Korean authorities seized a second oil tanker for allegedly supplying fuels to North Korea at sea, the South's media reported on Sunday.

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Four ships - three North Korean vessels and a Palau-flagged oil tanker - were blocked from global ports by the UN Security Council on Thursday over suspicions of carrying or transporting goods banned by sanctions targeting Pyongyang's weapons ambitions, according to the final list adopted by the world body.

The statement did not address whether or not Russian ships had transferred the fuel.

China denied Friday that it was supplying oil to North Korea, USA Today reported.

UNSC Resolution 2375, adopted in September, bans member countries from ship-to-ship transfers of any goods for North Korea.

The claims come days after Donald Trump criticised China over claims that three companies had exported and imported millions of dollars of goods and oil to North Korea.

The council has unanimously approved several rounds of sanctions against North Korea over its missile tests and nuclear programme, including a tough new United Nations resolution earlier this month.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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