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

Violet Powell
January 1, 2018

"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.

"The government has been in close consultations with related countries and ministries to thoroughly implement the sanctions by the UN Security Council", the spokesman said.

South Korea has seized a second ship as part of what it describes as an ongoing effort to monitor North Korea's attempts to evade United Nations sanctions.

"Since then, inspectors have been coming on board and questioning the crew", a Korea Customs Service official told AFP.

The South Korean Foreign Ministry told CNN Sunday that authorities have launched an investigation into a ship it has seized, but it would not give further details "due to the sensitivity of the issue", about whether that vessel was suspected of transferring oil to North Korea in violation of global sanctions on the hermit kingdom.

The US leader on Thursday tweeted, "Caught RED HANDED - very disappointed that China is allowing oil to go into North Korea".

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South Korean authorities have seized a Panama-flagged vessel suspected of transferring oil products to North Korea in violation of global sanctions, a customs official said on Sunday.

After leaving port, however, the Hong Kong ship met up with the Sam Jong 2, a 2,507-ton North Korean tanker, and three other unnamed ships in global waters in the East China Sea.

China denied the allegations, saying reports that it sold oil to North Korea did "not accord with the facts". "We are liaising with the Korean parties concerned to obtain further information about the incident, and will take appropriate actions as necessary", the statement said.

The Lighthouse Winmore, which was chartered by a Taiwanese company, was impounded by South Korean customs authorities at the port of Yeosu on Nov 24 following an inspection. The KOTI does not appear to be on the list.

The Security Council has imposed three sets of sanctions on North Korea this year: One on Aug 5 targeting the iron, coal and fishing industries, another set on Sep 11 aimed at textiles and limiting oil supply, and the most recent on Dec 22 focused on refined petroleum products.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

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