SEOUL – The South Korean government is investigating several vessels that might have broken the United Nations Security Council sanctions by transferring crude oil to or helping export minerals from North Korea, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry confirmed to EFE on Friday.
Seoul is currently retaining in its ports three vessels believed to have violated the UN sanctions and is waiting for the investigation to conclude so as to take appropriate measures, a foreign ministry spokesperson said.
The three vessels include Togo-flagged Talent Ace, Hong Kong-registered Lighthouse Winmore and Panama-flagged Koti.
Seoul has strong suspicions that Talent Ace, a freighter held since January, helped transfer North Korean coal to a third country when it was sailing under the name “Xin Sheng Hai” and under a different International Maritime Organization registration number.
Resolution 2371 of the UN Security Council has since August 2017 completely banned North Korea from exporting its minerals.
The other two ships are tankers that apparently transferred crude oil from the open sea to North Korean vessels earlier this year, an action banned by UN Resolution 2397 since last December.
Both resolutions allow member countries to retain and investigate those vessels if “there are reasonable grounds” to believe that they have violated sanctions. The member countries also have the right to prohibit their access to territorial waters and ports as punishment.
When asked on Thursday about these two ships, the foreign ministry spokesperson said that despite the current rapprochement with Pyongyang, the South Korean government will continue to strictly implement the sanctions until there is evidence that North Korea has undertaken a real denuclearization process.