Seoul seizes Panama vessel for alleged North Korea ties

Kim Jong-Un: The Nuclear Button Is Always On My Desk

A Panama-flagged tanker named Koti, has been seized by South Korean authorities who suspect that the ship may have supplied oil to its neighbours, North Korea in violation of global sanction.

The ship, which can carry 5,100 metric tons of oil, is now docked in Pyeongtaek-Dangjin port on South Korea's west coast after security officials reportedly decided on December 21 not to allow the vessel to leave the port, according to Yonhap citing a local maritime office.

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

On the same day, a Chinese vessel was seen transferring oil to North Korea's Rye Song Gang 1 ship in U.S. Treasury Department's satellite images first published in the South Korean newspaper The Chosun Ilbo earlier this week, one of 30 such instances reported in three months. The South Korean government announced Friday that it briefly seized and inspected a Hong Kong-registered ship in November for transferring oil products to a North Korean vessel.

The statement came in response to a Reuters report citing unidentified Western European security sources who said the transfers took place in October and November and represented a breach of sanctions. It is unclear when exactly KOTI was seized, but customs officials decided on December 21 to deny the ship permission to leave the port, a local maritime official told South Korean news agency Yonhap.

Kim Jong-Un: The Nuclear Button Is Always On My Desk
Seoul seizes Panama vessel for alleged North Korea ties

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

While UN measures limit the amount of refined and crude oil member states can send to the DPRK, the September resolution also bans member states from transferring cargos at sea.

The sanction seeks to cap petroleum exports to North Korea at 500,000 barrels a year and also demanded the repatriation of North Koreans working overseas within 12 months.

The US had asked the Security Council to blacklist all 10 vessels, but China objected to the proposal, diplomats said, and only agreed to blacklist four ships on Thursday. China vehemently denied the accusations. "This is not how a USA president should behave", read the opinion piece.

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