S Korea seizes Hong Kong vessel it says took oil to North

Aaron Brown
January 1, 2018

Another oil tanker was seized in South Korea for providing oil to North Korea, breaching United Nations sanctions.

If accurate, the trade would not be the first time Russian oil companies have fallen afoul of sanctions, with Washington designating a large Moscow-based company in June for its involvement with designated North Korean entities, money laundering and delivering fuel products to the DPRK.

The Panama-flagged 5,100-ton vessel named the KOTI has been held in the western port of Pyeongtaek-Dangin since being seized on December 21, the Yonhap News Agency reported. "There will never be a friendly solution to the North Korea problem if this continues to happen!", he wrote.

The Sam Jong 2 was one of four ships barred from worldwide ports by the UN Security Council over suspicions that it had transported goods banned under the sanctions measures.

"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.

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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After the president earlier accused China of secretly shipping oil to North Korea, he responded to questions surrounding the report.

It was seized and inspected by customs authorities when it returned to South Korea's Yeosu port, the official said. The Lighthouse Winmore was seized upon re-entering Yeosu on November 24, foreign ministry officials told CNN.

The announcement is the second of its kind this week, further highlighting the of use of ship-to-ship cargo transfers banned by United Nations resolutions.

China denied the allegations, saying reports that it sold oil to North Korea did "not accord with the facts".

South Korean officials told the Chosun Ilbo newspaper that satellites had identified similar ship-to-ship transfers on 30 occasions since October. "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 seem to be included on the list.

The U.N. Security Council last month unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea for a recent intercontinental ballistic missile test, seeking to limit its access to refined petroleum products and crude oil. It is Panamanian flagged.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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