South Korean authorities seized a second oil tanker for allegedly supplying fuels to North Korea at sea, the South’s media reported on Sunday.
The announcement is the second of its kind this week, further highlighting the of use of ship-to-ship cargo transfers banned by UN resolutions.
South Korean officials are holding the 5100-tonne, Panama flagged tanker called KOTI in Pyeongtaek-Dangjin after deciding not to release the vessel on December 21 to investigate further.
The seizure follows that of the Lighthouse Winmore, another oil tanker which Seoul claims supplied fuel products to North Korea in October, in breach of UN Resolution 2375.
While UN measures limit the amount of refined and crude oil member states can send to the DPRK, the September resolution also bans member states from transferring cargos at sea.
“All Member States shall prohibit their nationals, persons subject to their jurisdiction, entities incorporated in their territory or subject to their jurisdiction, and vessels flying their flag, from facilitating or engaging in ship-toship transfers to or from DPRK-flagged vessels of any goods,” the resolution reads.
Beijing on Friday denied selling oil products to North Korea even though the Lighthouse Winmore is owned by a company registered in Guangzhou, while the vessel sails under a Hong Kong-flag.
The KOTI’s ties to China also seem clear, the tanker is run by companies operating out of Hong Kong and Dalian, two well-known hubs for North Korean sanctions evasion.
A Reuters report on Friday also cited two unnamed European intelligence agencies saying that tankers operating out of the Russian Far East were also transferring oil to North Korea at sea.
Both China and Russia are the DPRK’s long-standing energy patrons, as North Korea has no domestic oil and gas production of its own.
Russia denied the reports on Saturday, saying via its foreign ministry that it “fully observes fully the sanctions regime” against North Korea.
If accurate, the trade would not be the first time Russian oil companies have fallen afoul of sanctions, with Washington designating a large Moscow-based company in June for its involvement with designated North Korean entities, money laundering and delivering fuel products to the DPRK.
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