After US President Trump famously tweeted earlier this week that the Chinese were caught ‘red handed’ delivering oil to North Korea in a circumvention of UN Security Council regulations, the number of tankers illegally making such transfers has only grown.
As we reported to you yesterday, according to European security analysts Russian tankers have also been caught at three separate occasions making similar ship-to-ship transfers at sea, even though the Russian foreign ministry denies this.
Earlier in the week, the South Korean military reported that they had seized a Chinese vessel called the Lighthouse Winmore of which satellite images prove that they indeed delivered oil to North Korean tankers.
And today, the South Korean foreign ministry added that they have now seized a second tanker accused of doing similar ship-to-ship oil transfers to North Korean vessels. This time, the Panamese ship called KOTI was not allowed to leave it’s South Korean port whilst intelligence and customs officials met regarding the 5,100-ton oil carrier.
South Korea stated that it “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.”
“As the government is investigating the KOTI case, we cannot confirm details.”
Most of the KOTI’s crew members are Chinese and Myanmarese. The news agency did not say when or where South Korea seized the vessel.
In what is becoming a very embarrassing situation for the Chinese government, President Xi Jinping referred to it lightly in his New Year’s message read out on state tv.
“China will uphold the United Nations’ authority and status, and fulfill its international duties”, Chinese President Xi Jinping said. He then added that his country “will always be a builder of world peace”.
Meanwhile, the Chinese foreign ministry also responded briefly to the latest news when asked by foreign reporters, stating that they are still awaiting proof: “Any measures taken by the Security Council must have a basis in conclusive and actual proof. China will continue to participate in the work of the relevant Security Council sanctions committee on this principle.”