South Korea Said to Seize Ship Suspected of Oil Transfers

Updated on
  • Trump warned China over illicit petroleum sales to North Korea
  • South Koreans refuse to allow the oil carrier to leave port

North Korea Crisis Continues to Escalate

South Korea is holding another vessel over suspicions it transferred petroleum products to a North Korean vessel -- the second seizure to come to light since President Donald Trump warned China against illicit oil sales to North Korea.

South Korean authorities are investigating a Panamanian vessel over suspicions it transferred oil products to a North Korean ship, Yonhap News reported on Sunday, citing a regional fisheries office. Intelligence and customs officials met regarding the 5,100-ton oil carrier named KOTI on Dec. 21 and decided not to allow it to leave port.

Trump has warned that illicit oil sales to North Korea may jeopardize a peaceful resolution to the confrontation over Kim Jong Un’s nuclear weapons and missile programs, though China has denied reports of petroleum sales to North Korea. South Korea seized a Hong Kong-flagged vessel named the Lighthouse Winmore, Yonhap reported on Friday.

South Korea “is closely monitoring the North’s movement to evade sanctions, while we are closely discussing with related countries and offices to thoroughly carry out UN Security Council resolutions,” the foreign ministry said in a statement. “As the government is investigating the KOTI case, we cannot confirm details.”

China will uphold the United Nations’ authority and status, and fulfill its international duties, Chinese President Xi Jinping said in brief New Year’s comments on state television Sunday evening. He added that his country will always be a builder of world peace.

Most of the KOTI’s crew members are Chinese and Myanmarese, Yonhap reported. The news agency did not say when or where South Korea seized the vessel. Calls by Bloomberg to the Pyeongtaek fisheries office went unanswered on Sunday.

— With assistance by Philip Glamann, Sohee Kim, and Gary Gao

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