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9 suspected N.K. coal shipments under investigation: official

All Headlines 17:11 August 06, 2018

SEOUL, Aug. 6 (Yonhap) -- Nine suspected North Korean coal shipments are under investigation for allegedly entering South Korean ports in violation of U.N. Security Council sanctions, a foreign ministry official said Monday.

Concerns have flared recently that South Korean entities could face U.S. sanctions following reports that vessels carrying North Korean coal entered South Korean ports in breach of a U.N. ban on exports of coal from the communist nation.

Media reports said Monday that the United States is taking a serious look at those suspected shipments, raising speculation that South Korean entities, including one affiliated with the state-run power supplier, could be blacklisted.

But the foreign ministry official rejected such concern.

"Suspected shipments of North Korean coal are something that the South and the U.S. have closely worked together on from the beginning. The U.S. appreciates our efforts too," the official told reporters. "The U.S. government has expressed no concern whatsoever to us."

The official also said that the U.S. considers the South a trustworthy partner sincerely implementing U.N. sanctions and that the U.S. imposes unilateral sanctions only when violations happen in a repeated and systematic manner, which he claimed is different from the South Korean cases.

"There are nine cases of (North Korean) coal shipments that we're looking at with interest," the official said, declining to provide further specifics, saying some of the cases could be cleared of suspicions through the investigation.

Adopted in December last year following the North's launch of a long-range missile, UNSC Resolution 2397 allows a country to capture and look into a vessel suspected of engaging in prohibited activities with North Korea. Resolution 2371, passed in August last year, imposes a blanket ban on the overseas sale of North Korean coal, iron ore and other mineral resources.
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