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(LEAD) Panamanian vessel probed over suspected oil supplies to N. Korea

All News 15:28 December 31, 2017

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PYEONGTAEK, South Korea, Dec. 31 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has seized and inspected a Panama-flagged ship suspected of selling oil to North Korea at sea in violation of U.N. sanctions, maritime authorities said.

The 5,100-ton KOTI is being held in the western port of Pyeongtaek-Dangjin, Gyeonggi Province. Security and customs officials held a meeting on Dec. 21 and decided not to allow the vessel to depart from the port, the local maritime office said.

It is the second known vessel under probe by South Korea on suspicions of ship-to-ship supplies of petroleum products to North Korea, banned under the international sanctions over its nuclear and missile programs.

The authorities said most of the crew of the ship KOTI are Chinese and Myanmarese. They declined to provide details of the probe, and the foreign ministry also said it has yet to receive any formal notification from the related agencies on the inquiry.

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 international waters on Oct. 19.

The ship, seized at Yeosu Port on Nov. 24, is suspected of transferring 600 tons of refined petroleum to a North Korean ship named Samjong No. 2.

UNSC Resolution 2375, adopted in September, bans member countries from ship-to-ship transfers of any goods for North Korea. Resolution 2397, adopted just a week earlier, allows a country to capture and look into a vessel suspected of engaging in prohibited activities with North Korea.


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