South Korea has seized a Hong Kong-registered ship that allegedly transferred oil to a North Korean vessel in violation of United Nations sanctions.
South Korea seizes ship it claims transferred oil to North Korea
According to an official from the South Korean Foreign Ministry, the Lighthouse Winmore departed from the port of Yeosu in South Korea carrying refined oil which was then transferred to a North Korean ship in international waters on October 19.
« UN Security Council sanctions prohibit the transfer of anything to a North Korean ship, » the official told CNN, adding the Lighthouse Winmore was seized when it re-entered Yeosu on November 24.
The ship and its crew are still in South Korean custody and under investigation. There were 23 Chinese nationals and two Burmese nationals on board the ship, officials said, adding they will « leave the country … when the investigation concludes. »
The Lighthouse Winmore was one of 10 ships the US asked the UN to ban from international ports this month over its alleged dealings with North Korea, according to Reuters.
That move came after the UN blacklisted four ships in October, including one that was caught smuggling 30,000 North Korean-made rocket-propelled grenades in 2016.
According to South Korea, the Lighthouse Winmore was being leased by a Taiwanese company, the Billions Bunker Group, and was en route to Taiwan when it made a ship-to-ship transfer of its oil cargo to four ships, including one North Korean ship.
« This is one of the main ways in which North Korea uses an illegal network to circumvent UN Security Council sanctions, » the South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman said. It is customary in South Korea that officials do not give their names.
The Hong Kong government said in a statement Friday it had noted media reports that the Lighthouse Winmore had been seized. « 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.(cnn)