Crew of ship supplying oil to North Korea being held by South Korea

Fox News:
The crew of a Hong Kong-flagged ship that allegedly violated U.N. sanctions by transferring oil to a North Korean vessel in October is being held in South Korea until a full inspection is sent to the Security Council, officials announced Friday.

The Lighthouse Winmore is believed to have transferred about 600 tons of refined petroleum products to the North Korean ship, the Sam Jong 2, in international waters in the East China Sea on Oct. 19, after leaving the South Korean port of Yeosu, a South Korean Foreign Ministry official told the Associated Press.

The announcement came on the same day Defense Secretary James Mattis told Fox News that he believes the world will exert “increased pressure” on North Korea in the coming months following the recent maritime incidents.

South Korean customs authorities said they boarded the ship and interviewed crew members after they returned to Yeosu on Nov. 24. South Korea formally seized the ship after the U.N. Security Council on Dec. 22 imposed new sanctions on North Korea that allow member states to seize, inspect and freeze vessels that are suspected of transferring banned goods to or from North Korea, the official said. He spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity, citing office rules.

The ship's 25 crew members — 23 of them Chinese nationals and two from Myanmar — are being held at Yeosu but will be allowed to leave South Korea after authorities are finished investigating them, the official said. South Korea plans to report the results of its inspection to the U.N. Security Council's sanctions committee.

The ship, which also transferred oil to three other non-North Korean ships, was chartered by Taiwan's Billions Bunker Group and stopped in South Korea to load up about 14,000 tons of Japanese oil products. It claimed its destination as Taiwan when leaving Yeosu on Oct. 15, the official said.
I think this is a different ship from the ones caught on spy satellites supplying North Korea with oil.  The crew and teh owners of the ship have some explaining to do.  Ship ownership is sometimes hidden by the flag the ship chooses to fly under.  It is curious that a Taiwan group would be supplying oil to North Korea.

Update:  Reuters is reporting that Russian tankers have also been offloading oil to North Korean tankers at sea.  It appears to be a"well oiled" smuggling operation.


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