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Published: Mon, January 01, 2018
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

South Korea seizes Hong Kong ship over North Korea oil transfer

South Korea seizes Hong Kong ship over North Korea oil transfer

Four ships - three North Korean vessels and a Palau-flagged oil tanker - were blocked from worldwide ports by the UN Security Council on Thursday over suspicions of carrying or transporting goods banned by sanctions targeting Pyongyang's weapons ambitions, according to the final list adopted by the world body.

The South Korean Foreign Ministry told CNN Sunday that authorities have launched an investigation into a ship it has seized, but it would not give further details "due to the sensitivity of the issue", about whether that vessel was suspected of transferring oil to North Korea in violation of worldwide sanctions on the hermit kingdom.

"Since then, inspectors have been coming on board and questioning the crew", a Korea Customs Service official told AFP.

South Korea seized the second ship, Koti, at Pyeongtaek-Dangjin, a port on its west coast.

"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.

"We are closely monitoring North Korea's attempts to evade United Nations sanctions".

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

Instead of going to Taiwan, however, the vessel transferred 600 tonnes of oil to the North's Sam Jong 2 in global waters off China before returning to Yeosu, the customs service officials said. One was a North Korean vessel, but the Treasury didn't identify where the other ship was from.

Last week the UN Security Council unanimously adopted new sanctions on North Korea in response to Pyongyang's November 29 ballistic missile test, seeking to further strangle its energy supplies and tighten restrictions on smuggling and the use of North Korean workers overseas.

OFAC said it had found three Chinese companies had cumulatively exported about $650m (about £483m) worth of goods to North Korea and cumulatively imported more than $100m (about £744m) worth of goods between January 2013 and the end of August 2017.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

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