North Korea Sanctions-Violating Oil Tanker Bears Panama Flag

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The sanction seeks to cap petroleum exports to North Korea at 500,000 barrels a year and also demanded the repatriation of North Koreans working overseas within 12 months.

"Since then, inspectors have been coming on board and questioning the crew", a Korea Customs Service official told AFP. 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. He could not clarify whether they belonged to mainland China or Hong Kong.

The Lighthouse Winmore visited Yeosu on October 11 and loaded some 14,000 tonnes of Japanese refined oil before heading towards its purported destination in Taiwan.

The ship, seized at Yeosu Port on November 24, is suspected of transferring 600 tons of refined petroleum to a North Korean ship named Samjong No. 2.

Earlier this month, the USA requested the U.N. Security Council to deny access to ports worldwide to 10 ships suspected of violating trade sanctions on North Korea.

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A Reuters report on Friday also cited two unnamed European intelligence agencies saying that tankers operating out of the Russian Far East were also transferring oil to North Korea at sea. We are also working closely with relevant countries and ministries for a thorough implementation of the United Nations resolutions.

"The vessel is under inspection for alleged ties with North Korea", a government official said, according to Yonhap.

Taiwan's transport ministry said it is investigating whether any Taiwanese entities were involved.

South Korean authorities have seized a Panama-flagged vessel suspected of transferring oil products to North Korea in violation of global sanctions, a customs official said on Sunday. Only four of the ships on the USA list, the ones belonging to North Korea including Sam Jong 2 and Rye Song Gang 1, were blacklisted at a session held on Thursday, as AFP reported.

The Security Council has imposed three sets of sanctions on North Korea this year: One on Aug 5 targeting the iron, coal and fishing industries, another set on Sep 11 aimed at textiles and limiting oil supply, and the most recent on Dec 22 focused on refined petroleum products.