The Japanese government on Friday published images of a prohibited ship-to-ship (STS) transfer which it said took place on July 31 and involved a North Korean oil tanker and a vessel possibly flying a Chinese flag.
The images were taken by an AOE “Towada” – a Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force vessel – observing the activity taking place 400 km south east of Shanghai in the East China Sea at midnight on July 31.
This area has been a known location for STS transfers to take place.
The accompanying press release said that a “North Korean-flagged tanker, was lying alongside a vessel of unknown nationality flying a flag that seemed like (a) Chinese-flag.”
“Following a comprehensive assessment, the Government of Japan strongly suspects that they conducted ship-to-ship transfers banned by UNSCR,” it added.
The North Korean vessel involved was identified as the Nam San 8, which was designated by the UN Security Council on March 30 and the U.S. Department of the Treasury on February 23.
The vessel is owned and operated by Hapjanggang Shipping Corp., which was similarly designated by the UNSC and Treasury in March and February.
Japan has previously reported on and published images of STS transfers on at least nine occasions this year.
In Friday’s press release Japan said, for the third time this year, that it “expressed its interest to China which could have relation to the vessel of unknown nationality.”
On the other six occasions, Japan preferred to say that it simply “shared information with related countries.”
The images and the report suggest North Korea and its partners are continuing to ignore sanctions imposed on Pyongyang in response to the continued development of its WMD programs.
On September 11, 2017, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) unanimously adopted Resolution 2375, which, among other measures, prohibited all STS transfers.
STS transfers linked to North Korea typically involve the transfer of oil products, which are also subject to caps under UNSC resolutions.
The U.S. submitted evidence to the UNSC in July indicating that North Korea had conducted at least 89 such transfers between January 1 and May 30.
It also assessed that Pyongyang may have illegally imported up to 1,367,628 barrels of refined petroleum as a result of the transfers: over double the 500,000 barrels authorized for export to North Korea each year by current UN sanctions.
In its submission, the U.S. requested all oil transfers to the DPRK be suspended, a request blocked by both China and Russia.
Amid diplomatic engagement with the North, the U.S. has reiterated its support for the enforcement of all sanctions against the DPRK and urged others to follow suit.
China and Russia, however, have called for the consideration of relaxing sanctions in the wake of the détente, alongside signs that enforcement has eased in 2018.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: Japanese Ministry of Defense
Join the influential community of members who rely on NK News original news and in-depth reporting.
Subscribe to read the remaining 489 words of this article.