South Korea seizes second ship amid North Korea sanctions row

01 January, 2018, 03:35 | Author: Irene Delgado
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South Korea has seized and inspected a Panama-flagged ship suspected of selling oil to North Korea at sea in violation of United Nations sanctions, maritime authorities said, according to Yonhap News Agency reported.

The ship, which can carry 5,100 metric tons of oil, is now docked in Pyeongtaek-Dangjin port on South Korea's west coast after security officials reportedly decided on December 21 not to allow the vessel to leave the port, according to Yonhap citing a local maritime office.

According to South Korean news agency Yonhap, the seized vessel which has a mostly Chinese and Burmese crew, is a 5,100-tonne oil carrier.

"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. "As for the KOTI, an investigation is underway", a foreign ministry spokeswoman told CNN by telephone.

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.

Beijing on Friday denied selling oil products to North Korea even though the Lighthouse Winmore is owned by a company registered in Guangzhou, while the vessel sails under a Hong Kong-flag.

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It did not include even harsher measures sought by Washington that would ban all oil imports and freeze global assets of the government and its leader Kim Jong Un.

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.

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.

Earlier a foreign ministry official in Seoul had said the ship had been seized briefly by customs authorities who inspected it.

Last week the UN Security Council unanimously adopted new sanctions on North Korea in response to Pyongyang's November 29 ballistic missile test, seeking to further strangle its energy supplies and tighten restrictions on smuggling and the use of North Korean workers overseas.


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