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UN imposes port ban on North for first time ever

Oct 11,2017
The United Nations imposed a global port ban on four vessels found violating sanctions against North Korea, according to the head of a United Nations panel of international experts monitoring the implementation of sanctions on Pyongyang.

Hugh Griffiths, the coordinator of a UN Security Council panel on North Korea sanctions, announced the port bans during a briefing to UN member states on Monday in a session also attended by a North Korean diplomat.

Griffiths, a British arms trafficking expert, told reporters in New York Monday that these ships were found to be transporting prohibited goods and were officially listed last Thursday, an action authorized by the sanctions committee.

He was quoted by the Associated Press as stating, “this is the first time in UN history” that the UN Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against the North has prohibited ships from entering all ports. Griffiths identified the four vessels as the Petrel 8, Hao Fan 6, Tong San 2 and Jie Shun. The vessels were said to have transported coal, seafood and iron ore, which are exports banned by UN Security Council Resolution 2371, adopted unanimously on Aug. 5.

This resolution also authorizes the 1718 Committee, or the so-called sanctions committee named after the first UNSC resolution on Pyongyang in 2006, to prohibit port calls by designated vessels and chartering of North Korea-flagged vessels.

Last month, the 15-member council further adopted a resolution on Sept. 11, extending bans to include North Korea’s textile exports. UNSC Resolution 2375 also banned all condensates and natural gas liquids and capped crude oil and refined petroleum products to the country, while barring authorization of new work permits for North Korean workers.

The bulk carrier Petrel 8 is registered in Comoros and was tracked in the Yellow Sea off the coast of Yantai in Shandong Province, northeastern China, as of Tuesday afternoon, according to online maritime database MarineTraffic, which monitors vessels.

The Hao Fan 6 was shown to be flagged to St. Kitts and Nevis, tracked in the East Sea and listed as being en route from Vladivostok, Russia, to Abashiri, Japan. The Tong San 2, built in 1996, was the only one of the four vessels flagged to North Korea, and was last tracked in the Yellow Sea. The Cambodia-flagged bulk freighter Jie Shun was spotted on Oct. 3 in the Bohai Sea. It was seized by Egyptian officials last year for transporting 30,000 rocket-propelled grenades made in North Korea.

Griffiths was also reported to have asked UN member states to pay special attention to North Korea’s Mansudae Overseas Project Group of Companies, also known as the Mansudae Art Studio, which is also blacklisted.

The company is described by the council as exporting North Korean workers to countries for construction work, including for statues and monuments, to generate revenue for the government or its ruling Workers’ Party of Korea.

It is reported to have businesses in African and Southeast Asian countries, including Algeria, Cambodia, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Malaysia, Madagascar, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

Griffiths said Mansudae “has representatives, branches and affiliates in the Asia-Pacific region, all over Africa and all over Europe,” adding, “they’re doing an awful lot more than producing statues in Africa.”

The panel of experts has recently compiled a list of 57 Chinese, Malaysian and North Korean companies that may have helped Pyongyang evade sanctions and finance its nuclear weapons program, the majority of which have yet to be sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department. The panel also has received reports that North Korea “is continuing its attempts to export coal” in violation of UN sanctions, according to Griffiths.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]