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N. Korea denounces Japan over heightened monitoring of illicit ship-to-ship transfers

All Headlines 18:18 March 21, 2019

SEOUL, March 21 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's state news agency lashed out at Japan on Thursday over its efforts to crack down on the North's illegal ship-to-ship transfers of goods in violation of international sanctions.

Earlier this month, Japan's foreign ministry said France has decided to support its monitoring of ship-to-ship transfers with North Korean-flagged vessels banned under the U.N. sanctions.

Calling the move a "last-ditch effort" to hamper the peace process in the region, the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in a commentary that Japan is trying to escalate tension in the region "against the trend."

"It is the real intention of the Japanese reactionaries to show their existence by inveigling countries out of the region into monitoring the DPRK's activities under the pretext of the implementation of the U.N. Security Council's 'sanctions resolutions' and thus provide an environment favorable for militarization," it said. DPRK is the acronym for North Korea's formal name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The KCNA said Japan will be faced with a more "miserable position" marginalized from the current detente in the region if it continues its "hostile policy" against the North.

The commentary, however, did not mention the United States, which sent a Coast Guard vessel to Japan earlier this month to strengthen monitoring of the illicit maritime activity.

In a recent annual report, the U.N. said North Korea "continues to defy Security Council resolutions through a massive increase in illegal ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products and coal."

This photo from Oct. 28, 2018, published in the March 2019 report by the U.N. Security Council committee on North Korea sanctions shows an illegal transfer on the high seas between a foreign vessel and the North Korean tanker Yuk Tung. The report said North Korea's weapons programs, including nuclear arms and ballistic missiles, have remained intact, with the country finding new means to evade sanctions, including such ship-to-ship transfers of sanctioned material. (Yonhap)

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