undergroundnewsroom.com March 21, 2018

Korea holds Panama oil tanker suspected of N. Korea trade

01 January 2018, 03:34 | Damon Campbell

Korea holds Panama oil tanker suspected of N. Korea trade

South Korea, US working closely for joint response to North Korea: US State Dept. official

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

It is the second known vessel under probe by South Korea on suspicions of ship-to-ship supplies of petroleum products to North Korea, banned under the worldwide sanctions over its nuclear and missile programs.

Authorities are now investigating the matter and won't disclose further details, Yonhap reported, adding the ship's crew was mostly made up of citizens from China and Myanmar, just like the Hong Kong-flagged tanker Lighthouse Winmore that was seized on Friday.

Earlier this month, the US requested the U.N. Security Council to deny access to ports worldwide to 10 ships suspected of violating trade sanctions on North Korea.

Results of the investigation will be reported to the UN Security Council's sanctions committee, foreign ministry officials said.

The South Korean Foreign Ministry said the vessel departed the port of Yeosu in South Korea on October 19 carrying refined oil that was then transferred to a North Korean ship in worldwide waters.

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Just last week South Korea announced it had seized the Lighthouse Winmore, a Hong Kong-registered ship in late November, that it claims had transferred oil to a North Korean vessel in worldwide waters in violation of United Nations sanctions. The Lighthouse Winmore was seized upon re-entering Yeosu on November 24, foreign ministry officials told CNN.

The sanction seeks to cap petroleum exports to North Korea at 500,000 barrels a year and also demanded the repatriation of North Koreans working overseas within 12 months.

China has denied breaching United Nations sanctions on North Korea.

The Panamanian tanker was banned from leaving port following a government meeting on December 21, the report said. "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 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.

The KOTI's ties to China also seem clear, the tanker is run by companies operating out of Hong Kong and Dalian, two well-known hubs for North Korean sanctions evasion.

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