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Seoul seizes Panama vessel for alleged North Korea ties

01 January 2018, 03:34 | Myrtle Vega

Seoul seizes Panama vessel for alleged North Korea ties

Seoul seizes Panama vessel for alleged North Korea ties

The Russian foreign ministry has denied claims that United Nations sanctions against North Korea had been breached by Russian tankers transferring fuel to North Korean tankers at sea.

South Korea says it is inspecting a Panama-flagged oil tanker suspected of evading global sanctions by trading with North Korea.

The ship, KOTI, was seized at Pyeongtaek-Dangjin port, the official told Reuters, without elaborating, because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The ship can carry 5,100 tonnes of oil and has a crew mostly from China and Myanmar, Yonhap News Agency reported, adding that South Korea's intelligence and customs officials are conducting a joint probe into the vessel.

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

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.

The US Treasury Department released satellite imagery in November of two ships allegedly performing an illegal ship-to-ship transfer in worldwide waters on the same day.

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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.

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.

The Hong Kong government said in a statement Friday it had noted media reports that the Lighthouse Winmore had been seized.

About a week ago, a ban on almost 90 percent of refined petroleum exports to North Korea was imposed by the United Nations- a decision imposed on Pyongyang to stop it from furthering its nuclear programme.

Earlier a foreign ministry official in Seoul had said the ship had been seized briefly by customs authorities who inspected it. The KOTI does not appear to be on the list.

The seizure follows that of the Lighthouse Winmore, another oil tanker which Seoul claims supplied fuel products to North Korea in October, in breach of UN Resolution 2375. It is Panamanian flagged.



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