A North Korean ship prohibited by the UN from entering any port outside the DPRK broadcast its location at a dock in China on Thursday in a possible breach of Security Council resolutions, data collected by NK Pro shows.
According to the NK Pro ship tracker, the St Kitts and Nevis flagged Hao Fan 6 arrived at a facility on Zhoushan Island near Shanghai on Thursday morning, after a nine-day absence when it did not broadcast its location.
The 13500-tonne cargo ship was added to the UN’s blacklist on October 10, with Reuters reporting the vessel was suspected of involvement with North Korean coal exports, which are also prohibited under UN resolutions.
“All Member States shall prohibit the entry into their ports of such designated vessels, unless entry is required in the case of emergency or in the case of return to its port of origination,” UN Resolution 2375 passed in September reads.
The measures add that humanitarian exceptions can be made but require prior approval from the 1718 Committee, leaving open a possible avenue for sanctioned DPRK ships to enter foreign ports in cases where they might need repair or restocking.
Satellite imagery shows the facility where the Hao Fan 6 is docked appears to be involved in shipbuilding and repair, suggesting the sanctioned ship may have experienced technical a problem of some kind.
“That facility appears to be the Zhoushan Shipyard (Distinct from Zhoushan Xinya Shipyard) of the Yangfan Group (中国扬帆造船), a shipyard for building and maintaining large cargo ships,” Scott LaFoy, a Washington-based satellite imagery analyst told NK News.
“The wharf appears to be used for maintenance of larger ships, though there have been fewer very large ships docking at the wharf in 2017.”
The 1718 Committee would not confirm if China had requested a humanitarian exception for the Hao Fan 6, saying communications were “confidential.”
According to its most recent inspection in August, the ship had a clean bill of health when it sailed from Vladivostok with inspectors finding only one deficiency related to safety or environmental issues, a below average number for vessels associated with North Korea.
The Hao Fan 6 has only appeared intermittently on international tracking systems since its designation, leaving Russia and sailing past South Korea just prior to its blacklisting before ceasing location transmissions for over a month on the day it was sanctioned.
The ship reappeared near Shanghai in November, where it held its position for three weeks before disappearing for another nine days before subsequently broadcasting its location again at the Chinese wharf on Thursday, where it remained at the time of writing.
Beijing’s Embassy in Washington was not available for comment on the news, while the email provided on China’s permanent mission to the UN website does not appear to be accurate.
Additional reporting by Hamish Macdonald
Featured image: NK Pro ship tracker