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(LEAD) Main opposition party calls for parliamentary probe into N.K. coal shipment

All News 17:28 August 10, 2018

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SEOUL, Aug. 10 (Yonhap) -- The main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) on Friday called for a parliamentary probe into allegations that ships suspected of carrying North Korean coal have entered South Korean ports in possible violation of U.N. sanctions.

The government earlier said it is looking into nine cases of suspected North Korean coal shipments amid concerns that South Korean entities could face U.S. sanctions.

The state customs agency announced Friday that three South Korean firms imported North Korean coal and pig iron from Russia on seven occasions between April and October last year by forging customs documents in apparent violation of a U.N. sanctions resolution.

"The issue guarantees a parliamentary investigation as it can severely hurt national interests," Kim Sung-tae, the floor leader of the LKP, said at a meeting with party officials.

"This is a grave diplomatic issue that cannot be neglected. We need to reveal who might have violated U.N. sanctions resolutions or whether the government was aware of (the entry of suspected ships)," he stressed.

The North is banned from exporting coal, iron ore and other mineral resources under Resolution 2371, passed in August last year. U.N. sanctions call for a country to capture and look into a vessel suspected of engaging in prohibited activities with North Korea.

The LKP condemned the government for being negligent toward North Korean coal shipments.

"The South's foreign ministry and the customs office effectively turned a blind eye to them even after they were notified of relevant information previously," Rep. Shim Jae-cheol of the LKP claimed.

The minor opposition Bareunmirae Party (BP) expressed a similar view.

"If importers violated U.N. sanctions resolutions, the Korea Customs Office was negligent in its duties," the party said. "The BP will thoroughly review the government's ability to cope with the situation through activities at parliamentary committees."


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