UN approves release of two detained ships

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UN approves release of two detained ships

The United Nations (UN) sanctions committee on North Korea has approved the release of two ships detained for illegal ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products to the communist state, the foreign ministry said Tuesday.

The UN approval allows Seoul to discharge the Hong Kong-flagged Lighthouse Winmore and the South Korean P-Pioneer, the ministry said in a release. The government submitted the request on May 23, and it received approval on Monday. The Lighthouse Winmore has been detained in the southern port of Yeosu since Nov. 24, 2017, and the P-Pioneer was moved to the Busan port on Sept. 4, 2018.

The decision was made under the condition that the Lighthouse Winmore not engage in ship-to-ship transfers in the future. The operator of the P-Pioneer has agreed to have its tracking system turned on at all times and to submit its shipping course log at the government’s request.

Two other ships - the now stateless Koti and Talent Ace - are said to be still under review. The government is seeking to demolish them, as their breaches of sanctions were likely to have been deliberate, according to sources familiar with the matter. The Koti has been detained in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi since Dec. 21, 2017, and the Talent Ace has been held in Gunsan, North Jeolla since Jan. 19, 2018. They are suspected of moving petroleum products to North Korean ships.

Once these measures are all carried out for the four ships, it will mark the first case of full implementation of the North Korea sanctions by a UN member nation, from seizing, inspecting of vessels suspected of violating the sanctions and imposing necessary measures afterwards, the ministry said.

The UNSC adopted additional sanctions on North Korea in late 2017 following Pyongyang’s launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile in November of that year.

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