South Korean ship detained for allegedly providing oil to North Korea

The ship has been held in Busan port since October. (Shutterstock/File)
Updated 03 April 2019

South Korean ship detained for allegedly providing oil to North Korea

  • South Korean officials did not specify the volume of the illegal oil shipments
  • Authorities say the shipments happened in 2017

SEOUL: A South Korean ship is being held at a domestic port over suspicions that it illegally provided oil to heavily sanctioned North Korea, Seoul officials said Wednesday.

The revelation comes amid growing concerns over wide-ranging efforts by North Korea to evade UN Security Council sanctions over its nuclear weapons and missiles program.

A South Korean coast guard official said the 5,160-ton P-PIONEER has been prevented from leaving Busan port since October over allegations that it was used to supply oil to North Korea through two ship-to-ship transfers in September 2017 in international waters in the East China Sea. He said the ship transferred diesel, but did not confirm how much was supplied.

Customs authorities have sent the case to state prosecutors, who are now examining whether to indict the ship’s captain and management company for violating laws governing maritime transport and exchanges with North Korea, he said.

An official from Seoul’s Foreign Ministry said it was the first time a South Korean ship was detained over allegations of violating UN sanctions against North Korea. South Korea is detaining three foreign vessels for illegally providing oil to North Korea or transporting North Korea-produced coal.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity, citing department rules preventing them from speaking to the press.

The UN Security Council in a report last month said North Korea was continuing to defy its resolutions through a “massive” increase in ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products and coal. The report quoted one unnamed member state as saying North Korea obtained more than the cap of 500,000 barrels of refined petroleum products in 2018, but said another unnamed country questioned the figure.

UN sanctions against North Korea have strengthened significantly since 2016 as Pyongyang stepped up its weapons tests and now includes strict import restrictions on petroleum products and crude oil and export bans on coal and other minerals that had been key sources of foreign currency for the North.

South Korean prosecutors in December charged four people with illegally importing North Korean coal, saying they used falsified documents and transshipments at Russian ports to disguise the coal as Russian.

Following successful tests of long-range missiles potentially capable of reaching the US mainland in 2017, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shifted to a diplomatic mode in 2018 and held summits with leaders of South Korea and the United States in an effort to leverage his nuclear arsenal for economic and security benefits. But Kim’s second summit with President Donald Trump in February collapsed over mismatched demands in sanctions relief and disarmament.


India reimposes movement curbs on parts of Kashmir’s main city after clashes

Updated 46 min 40 sec ago

India reimposes movement curbs on parts of Kashmir’s main city after clashes

  • There were violent overnight clashes between residents and police in which dozens were injured
  • India has been fighting a revolt in which at least 50,000 people have been killed

SRINAGAR: Indian authorities reimposed restrictions on movement in major parts of Kashmir’s biggest city, Srinagar, on Sunday after violent overnight clashes between residents and police in which dozens were injured, two senior officials and eyewitnesses said.
In the past 24 hours, there has been a series of protests against New Delhi’s Aug. 5 revocation of the region’s autonomy. This followed an easing in curbs on movement on Saturday morning.
The state government has said that it has not imposed a curfew over the past two weeks, but on Sunday people were being turned back at multiple roadblocks set up in the city in the past few hours. Security forces at some roadblocks have told residents there is a curfew.
Two senior government officials told Reuters that at least two dozen people were admitted to hospitals with pellet injuries after violent clashes broke out in the old city on Saturday night.
Representatives in the Jammu and Kashmir government in Srinagar and the federal government in New Delhi did not immediately return calls asking about the latest clampdown or seeking an assessment of the number of injuries and clashes.
One of the official sources said that people pelted security forces with stones in around two dozen places across Srinagar. He said that the intensity of the stone pelting protests has increased over past few days.
The heavy overnight clashes took place mostly in Rainawari, Nowhetta and Gojwara areas of the old city where Indian troops fired tear smoke, chilly grenades and pellets to disperse protesters, eyewitnesses and officials said.
Chilly grenades contain very spicy chili pepper, and produce a major eye and skin irritant, as well as a pungent smell, when they are unleashed.
The officials, who declined to be identified because they aren’t supposed to talk to the media, said clashes also took place in other parts of the city including Soura, a hotbed of protests in the past two weeks.
A senior government official and hospital authorities at Srinagar’s main hospital said that at least 17 people came there with pellet injuries. They said 12 were discharged while five with grievous injuries were admitted.
The hospital officials and a police officer told Reuters that a 65-year-old man, Mohammad Ayub of Braripora, was admitted to the hospital after he had major breathing difficulties when tear gas and chilly grenades were fired in old city area on Saturday afternoon. He died in the hospital on Saturday night and has already been buried, they said.
Javed Ahmad, age 35 and from the wealthy Rajbagh area of Srinagar, was prevented from going to the old city early Sunday morning by paramilitary police at a barricade near the city center. “I had to visit my parents there. Troops had blocked the road with concertina wire. They asked me to go back as there was curfew in the area,” he said.
Telephone landlines were restored in parts of the city on Saturday after a 12-day blackout and the state government said most telephone exchanges in the region would start working by Sunday evening. Internet and cell phones remain blocked in Kashmir.
More than 500 political or community leaders and activists remained in detention, and some have been flown to prisons outside the state.
For 30 years in the part of Kashmir that it controls, India has been fighting a revolt in which at least 50,000 people have been killed. Critics say the decision to revoke autonomy will cause further alienation and fuel the armed resistance.
The change will allow non-residents to buy property in Jammu and Kashmir, and end the practice of reserving state government jobs for local residents.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has said the measure is necessary to integrate Kashmir fully into India and speed up its development.