Japan spots another suspicious transfer to North Korean tanker on East China Sea

by WorldTribune Staff, February 22, 2018

Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force reported it spotted the transfer of possibly banned items to a North-Korean registered tanker in the East China Sea, a report said.

Image released by the ministry of foreign affairs of Japan shows the Dominica-flagged Yuk Tung oil tanker after it transferred fuel to the North Korean-registered Rye Song. / AP

A Japanese P-3C patrol plane saw the North Korean tanker alongside a small ship of unknown registry at a point some 250 kilometers off the coast of Shanghai on Feb. 16, Japan’s government said on Feb. 20.

Personnel on the patrol plane reported that hoses were connected between the two ships.

The ship of unknown nationality had Chinese characters meaning “Fujian Province, Ningde City, oil tanker” painted on the body, Japanese officials said.

Similar ship-to-ship transfers to North Korean vessels were reported by Japan’s government earlier this month and late last month.

Last month, Japan reported its patrols had observed an apparent cargo transfer between a Dominica-registered oil tanker and a North Korean ship in the East China Sea.

“Following a comprehensive analysis, the government strongly suspects they were transferring goods, which is banned by UN sanctions,” said Japan’s government, which also released a photo of the ships.

Japan identified the North Korean tanker as the Rye Song Gang 1, one of the vessels denied international port access by the UN Security Council. The other tanker was named as the Yuk Tung.

In October 2017, 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.

Related: China caught ‘red-handed’ secretly supplying oil to N. Korea, December 29, 2017

Ship-to-ship transfers of oil products and other several other items to North Korean ships are banned under UN Security Council resolutions.

Japan’s government said it has reported the incident to the UN and shared information with related countries.

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