Japan sees transfer at sea that may violate NKorea sanctions

Japan sees transfer at sea that may violate NKorea sanctions”

A maritime Self-Defense Force PC-3 surveillance plane and an escort ship saw a North Korean-flagged tanker alongside a smaller ship on February 16 about 250 kilometers (150 miles) off Shanghai in the East China Sea, the Foreign Ministry said late Tuesday. The two vessels were spotted by a Japanese spy plane. The Rey Song Gang 1 is one of eight ships that have been banned from entering ports around the globe under United Nations sanctions against North Korea.

"China attaches high importance to the situation and is now investigating this", Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular press briefing.

He added that China would deal with any individuals or businesses suspected of violating the resolutions "in strict accordance with China's laws and regulations, based on all evidence".

"Following a comprehensive assessment, the government of Japan strongly suspects that they conducted [a banned] ship-to-ship transfer", said Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement.

The ship of unknown nationality had Chinese characters meaning "Fujian Province, Ningde City, oil tanker" painted on the body, officials said.

It said that the dip follows a year where the US led an worldwide push to put "maximum pressure" on North Korea. One way its been reported that the country had skirted sanctions is through ship to ship transfers.

According to the ministry, a Japanese patrol aircraft and the Japanese corvette Sendai spotted the North Korean tanker Yu Jong 2 tied up with a small vessel on the high seas, about 135 nm off Shanghai.

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