Suspecting deal with North, Seoul seizes ship

Suspecting deal with North, Seoul seizes ship

Suspecting deal with North, Seoul seizes ship

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

South Korean authorities seized a Hong Kong tanker after it was found to have secretly transferred 600 tons of refined petroleum to a North Korean vessel in worldwide waters in October, in a brazen breach of United Nations sanctions.

The crews of both the impounded vessels are mostly Chinese, raising suspicions that China - North Korea's largest trading partner - may be supplying the fuel, or failing to do enough to prevent its sale.

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. State outlet Yonhap News Agency reported the ship can carry more than 5,000 metric tons of oil and has a crew mostly from China and Myanmar.

The seizing of the ships is part of ongoing efforts to implement U.N. Security Council resolutions on North Korea.

The UN Security Council has imposed three sets of sanctions on the North this year to try to stop its nuclear and missile tests.

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Instead of going to Taiwan, however, it transferred 600 tonnes of oil to the North's Sam Jong 2 in worldwide waters off China, South Korean customs service officials claim. The Lighthouse Winmore was seized upon re-entering Yeosu on November 24, foreign ministry officials told CNN.

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.

Her remarks came after U.S. President Donald Trump, in a Twitter post Thursday, wrote, "Caught RED HANDED - very disappointed that China is allowing oil to go into North Korea". "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.

Four ships - three North Korean vessels and a Palau-flagged oil tanker - were blocked from global ports by the UN Security Council on Thursday on suspicion of carrying or transporting goods banned by the sanctions.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

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