Philippines Stops First North Korean Ship Under UN Sanctionsby
Crew to be deported and UN may send team to inspect vessel
North Korea said earlier it will continue nuclear development
The Philippines is holding a North Korean-controlled cargo vessel for inspection days after the United Nations Security Council passed a new round of sanctions to punish the government in Pyongyang for a fourth nuclear test and a rocket launch.
The decision to stop the Jin Teng from leaving the Subic port, north of Manila, will be reported to the UN, which may send a team to inspect the 6,830-ton ship, Communications Undersecretary Manolo Quezon said in a radio briefing Saturday. Quezon said the crew will be deported in accordance with the new security council resolution, which requires inspection of all cargo entering or leaving North Korea.
“As a member of the UN, we have an obligation to implement the sanctions,” Quezon said. Under the UN resolution, North Korean assets are subject to a freeze by UN member states and this means that authorities must impound the ship, Quezon said. The Philippine coast guard had inspected the ship on Friday and said it tested negative for weapons of mass destruction.
The Philippines’ action marks the first case of UN sanctions being enforced against North Korean ships since the security council unanimously passed the resolution on Wednesday, which lists 31 vessels as “economic resources controlled or operated” by a North Korean firm. In 2013, Panamanian authorities seized a North Korean ship headed for Cuba and found disassembled MiG-27 fighter jets, Soviet-era radar systems and munitions under bags of sugar.
The resolution limits or bans North Korea’s exports of certain mineral resources, a key source of hard currency for Kim Jong Un’s regime, as well as imports of small arms. It also bans financial institutions from opening new branches or accounts in the country and blacklists a number of North Koreans, including officials active in Iran, Syria and Vietnam. The resolution lists the Jin Teng as a ship controlled by North Korea.
North Korea on Friday threatened “strong and merciless physical” actions against the U.S. and other nations over the resolution. Earlier it had fired a set of projectiles into its eastern waters and said it would continue to bolster its nuclear arms capabilities. It has yet to comment on the case of the Jin Teng.
North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6 and followed it up weeks later with a long-range rocket launch, which the UN views as a test of a ballistic missile that could eventually carry a nuclear warhead. China, which remains North Korea’s only major ally and holds the key to the success of sanctions, has backed the latest resolution.