by WorldTribune Staff, December 29, 2017
China was caught secretly transferring oil to North Korean vessels at sea, a report said.
South Korea seized the Hong Kong-flagged Lighthouse Winmore that was accused of transferring 600 tons of refined petroleum to a North Korean ship in international waters in the East China Sea on Oct. 19, a move prohibited by UN sanctions, Yonhap reported.
“Caught RED HANDED – very disappointed that China is allowing oil to go into North Korea. There will never be a friendly solution to the North Korea problem if this continues to happen!” U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted on Dec. 28.
China denied it was supplying oil to North Korea in violation of UN sanctions.
Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry, said on Dec. 29 that Beijing has “completely and strictly” complied with the sanctions, adding that the Yonhap report was false.
UN Security Council Resolution 2375, adopted in September, bans member countries from ship-to-ship transfer of any goods for North Korea. Resolution 2397, adopted just a week earlier allows a country to capture and look into a vessel suspected of engaging in prohibited activities with North Korea.
According to Yonhap’s report, the Lighthouse Winmore was chartered by the Taiwanese company Billions Bunker Group and previously visited South Korea’s Yeosu Port on Oct. 11 to load up on Japanese refined petroleum and head to its claimed destination in Taiwan four days later.
Instead of going to Taiwan, however, the vessel transferred the oil to a North Korean ship, the Sam Jong 2, and three other non-North Korean vessels in international waters in the East China Sea, authorities told Yonhap.
South Korean authorities said they will be keeping the Hong Kong-flagged vessel for about six months, during which time Hong Kong is expected to file a request for the ship’s release with the UN’s sanctions committee on North Korea.
South Korea also shared intelligence information on the incident with the United States, the officials said.