Wednesday, 17 January, 2018

South Korea seizes second tanker suspected of delivering oil to N. Korea

Reuters  KCNA  Reuters Reuters KCNA Reuters
Andrew Cummings | 01 January, 2018, 02:08

The crew of a Hong Kong-registered ship have been detained for questioning in South Korea since their tanker was impounded in November for transferring oil to a North Korean vessel and breaching United Nations sanctions, customs officials said Saturday.

The authorities said most of the ship's crew are Chinese and Myanmarese.

The tanker, chartered by Taiwanese company Billions Bunker Group Corp, previously visited Yeosu on Oct 11 and loaded up on some 14,000 tonnes of Japanese refined oil before heading towards its purported destination in Taiwan.

The Seoul government announced Friday it is investigating a Hong Kong-flagged ship named the Lighthouse Winmore for allegedly transferring oil to a North Korean vessel in global waters on October 19.

South Korean authorities seized a second oil tanker for allegedly supplying fuels to North Korea at sea, the South's media reported on Sunday.

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

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South Korea is holding a second ship on suspicion of supplying oil to North Korea in violation of global sanctions meant to punish Kim Jong-un's regime for its nuclear weapons and missile programmes.

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

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".

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.

Russian Federation denied the reports on Saturday, saying via its foreign ministry that it "fully observes fully the sanctions regime" against North Korea.

But images from the US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), released at the end of November, appear to show an attempt between North Korea and China to conduct a ship-to-ship transfer, possibly of oil, to evade sanctions.

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