World News

Korea holds Panama oil tanker suspected of N. Korea trade

Korea holds Panama oil tanker suspected of N. Korea trade

The revelation comes days after South Korea said it was holding a Hong Kong-flagged ship and crew members over transferring petroleum products to a North Korean vessel in worldwide waters in October.

The crew of a Hong Kong-registered ship have been detained for questioning in South Korea since their tanker was impounded in November for transferring oil to a North Korean vessel and breaching United Nations sanctions, customs officials said Saturday.

The crews of both the impounded vessels are mostly Chinese, raising suspicions that China - North Korea's largest trading partner - may be supplying the fuel, or failing to do enough to prevent its sale.

Results of the investigation will be reported to the UN Security Council's sanctions committee, foreign ministry officials said.

The Panamanian tanker was banned from leaving port following a government meeting on December 21, the report said.




It was seized and inspected by customs authorities when it returned to South Korea's Yeosu port, the official said.

"Since then, inspectors have been coming on board and questioning the crew", a Korea Customs Service official told AFP. Authorities were not immediately available for confirmation of the report.

The ship, seized at Yeosu Port on November 24, is suspected of transferring 600 tons of refined petroleum to a North Korean ship named Samjong No. 2. Instead of going to Taiwan, however, it transferred 600 tonnes of oil to the North's Sam Jong 2 in worldwide waters off China, South Korean customs service officials have said.

The resolution adopted by the council included sharply lower limits on North Korea's refined oil imports, the return home of all North Koreans working overseas within 24 months, and a crackdown on ships smuggling banned items including coal and oil to and from the country.

The ship, loaded with the Japanese refined petroleum, was claimed to be heading to Taiwan.


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