South Korea seizes ship it claims transferred oil to North Korea

South Korea has seized a Hong Kong-registered ship that allegedly transferred oil to a North Korean vessel in violati...

Posted: Dec 29, 2017 11:09 PM
Updated: Dec 29, 2017 11:09 PM

South Korea has seized a Hong Kong-registered ship that allegedly transferred oil to a North Korean vessel in violation of United Nations sanctions.

The South Korean Foreign Ministry said the Lighthouse Winmore left the port of Yeosu in South Korea carrying refined oil which was then transferred to a North Korean ship in international waters on October 19.

The US Treasury Department released satellite imagery in November of two ships allegedly performing an illegal ship-to-ship transfer in international waters on the same day.

It identified one of the ships as a sanctioned North Korean vessel, the Rye Song Gang 1, but did not name the other. South Korean officials could not confirm Friday if the second ship was the Lighthouse Winmore.

"UN Security Council sanctions prohibit the transfer of anything to a North Korean ship," a South Korean Foreign Ministry official told CNN, adding the Lighthouse Winmore was seized when it re-entered Yeosu on November 24.

President Trump said Beijing had been "caught red-handed," after the satellite images were republished in South Korean media earlier this week.

South Korea said the Lighthouse Winmore and its crew were still in South Korean custody and under investigation. There were 23 Chinese nationals and two Burmese nationals on board the ship, officials said, adding they would be permitted to leave only when the investigation was concluded.

China has denied breaching UN sanctions on North Korea.

The Lighthouse Winmore was one of 10 ships the US asked the UN to ban from international ports this month over its alleged dealings with North Korea, according to Reuters.

That move came after the UN blacklisted four ships in October, including one that was caught smuggling 30,000 North Korean-made rocket-propelled grenades in 2016.

According to South Korea, the Lighthouse Winmore was being leased by a Taiwanese company, the Billions Bunker Group, and was en route to Taiwan when it made a ship-to-ship transfer of its oil cargo to four ships, including one North Korean ship.

"This is one of the main ways in which North Korea uses an illegal network to circumvent UN Security Council sanctions," the South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman said. It is customary in South Korea that officials do not give their names.

The Hong Kong government said in a statement Friday it had noted media reports that the Lighthouse Winmore had been seized. "We are liaising with the Korean parties concerned to obtain further information about the incident, and will take appropriate actions as necessary," the statement said.

'Very disappointed' in China

China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying on Friday reiterated that Beijing is enforcing all UN Security Council sanctions against North Korea, aimed at curbing Pyongyang's missile and nuclear weapons development.

In an interview with the New York Times published Thursday, Trump claimed "oil is going into North Korea" and appeared to blame China, saying if Beijing fails to put pressure on Pyongyang then the US may take punitive economic actions against Beijing.

"China on trade has ripped off this country more than any other element of the world in history has ripped off anything," Trump said.

"If they don't help us with North Korea, then I do what I've always said I want to do. China can help us much more, and they have to help us much more."

He added: "China's hurting us very badly on trade, but I have been soft on China because the only thing more important to me than trade is war."

A senior US State Department official told CNN Thursday the US is "aware that certain vessels have engaged in UN-prohibited activities, including ship-to-ship transfers of refined petroleum and the transport of coal from North Korea."

"We have evidence that some of the vessels engaged in these activities are owned by companies in several countries, including China," the official said. "We condemn these acts and hope that any UNSC members, including China, work more closely together to shut down smuggling activities."

Pyongyang has for years used deceptive shipping practices to help bring in revenue for the country's regime, analysts say, and the US has called for more to be done to crackdown on ships transporting goods to and from North Korea.

UN Security Council resolutions passed this year stipulate "all Member States shall prohibit the entry into their ports of such designated vessels," save for some circumstances, including in emergencies or if they are granted humanitarian exceptions by the UN.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the date of the seizure as December 24.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 16041

Reported Deaths: 767
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds103526
Lauderdale74568
Madison74525
Neshoba70742
Jones66331
Scott66112
Forrest59439
DeSoto5538
Leake44712
Rankin4468
Holmes43928
Copiah3154
Jackson30813
Attala30318
Yazoo2864
Newton2824
Leflore27334
Lincoln27029
Monroe26525
Harrison2637
Oktibbeha25314
Lamar2485
Lowndes2309
Wayne2242
Pearl River21131
Pike20411
Adams20015
Noxubee1916
Washington1917
Warren18110
Covington1732
Jasper1654
Lee1657
Bolivar16511
Clarke15419
Smith15311
Kemper14711
Lafayette1414
Chickasaw13714
Coahoma1274
Winston1211
Marion1179
Carroll11711
Clay1154
Claiborne1122
Lawrence1061
Simpson1020
Grenada993
Yalobusha966
Tate951
Hancock9112
Itawamba897
Wilkinson859
Union857
Sunflower853
Montgomery851
Panola843
Marshall813
Jefferson Davis803
Tippah7611
Webster683
Calhoun674
Amite641
Walthall610
Humphreys597
Tunica563
Prentiss563
Perry513
Choctaw482
Pontotoc433
Jefferson431
Tishomingo340
Quitman340
Stone310
Franklin292
Tallahatchie291
George261
Greene221
Alcorn181
Benton140
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 18474

Reported Deaths: 651
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2283118
Jefferson1882103
Montgomery180243
Tuscaloosa81616
Marshall7059
Franklin5768
Lee55234
Shelby52220
Tallapoosa43166
Butler41618
Walker3782
Elmore3739
Chambers35826
Madison3444
Morgan2971
Baldwin2929
Unassigned2922
Dallas2823
Etowah26112
DeKalb2563
Lowndes25512
Autauga2395
Coffee2381
Sumter2267
Houston2235
Bullock2136
Pike2080
Colbert1872
Hale1789
Russell1770
Barbour1751
Marengo1746
Lauderdale1672
Calhoun1653
Choctaw15310
Wilcox1527
Cullman1501
Clarke1482
St. Clair1311
Randolph1287
Marion12411
Dale1230
Pickens1215
Talladega1175
Limestone1080
Chilton1041
Greene954
Winston910
Macon864
Jackson833
Henry812
Covington811
Crenshaw783
Bibb761
Escambia743
Washington726
Blount631
Lawrence510
Monroe442
Geneva430
Perry420
Conecuh411
Coosa401
Cherokee383
Clay282
Lamar260
Fayette160
Cleburne151
Tupelo
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 75°
Columbus
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 74°
Oxford
Scattered Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 70°
Starkville
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 72°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather