South Korea seizes vessel over 'oil transfer to North'

South Korea seizes vessel over ‘oil transfer to North’


South Korean authorities have reportedly seized and inspected a Hong Kong-flagged vessel after it secretly transferred petroleum to a North Korean vessel in international waters.UN member countries are banned from making ship-to-ship transfer of any goods for North Korea, according to the UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2375 adopted in September.
Resolution 2397, adopted on December 22, allows a country to capture and look into a vessel suspected of engaging in prohibited activities with North Korea.
South Korean officials told Yonhap news agency that customs authorities took and searched Lighthouse Winmore when it entered the country’s Yeosu port on November 24 after transferring 600 tonnes of refined petroleum to a North Korean vessel on October 19.
The Hong Kong-flagged ship was chartered by Taiwanese company Billions Bunker Group and previously visited Yeosu port on October 11 to load up on Japanese refined petroleum and head to its claimed destination in Taiwan four days later, the authorities reportedly said.
Instead of going to Taiwan, however, the vessel transferred the petroleum to a North Korean ship, the Sam Jong 2, and three other non-North Korean vessels in international waters in the East China Sea, they said.
“The actions taken will be reported to the UNSC sanctions committee on North Korea in the future,” they were quoted by Yonhap as saying.
“This marks a typical case of North Korea shrewdly circumventing UNSC sanctions by using its illegal networks.”
The officials said South Korea has shared intelligence with the US for the detection of the illegal transaction.
South Korea will be keeping the Hong Kong-flagged vessel for about six months, during which time Hong Kong is expected to file a request for the ship’s release with the UNSC’s sanctions committee on North Korea, Yonhap said. – al-Jazeera


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