April 3, 2018 / 1:10 PM / in 19 days

United Nations sanctions North Korean ship for fuel transfer at sea

LONDON (Reuters) - The United Nations has blacklisted a North Korean ship for receiving oil in an October transfer that breached U.N. sanctions, as first revealed by Reuters.

Reuters in December reported that Russian tankers had supplied fuel to North Korea, which relies on imported fuel to keep its struggling economy functioning, by transferring cargoes at sea.

European security sources told Reuters that a Russian vessel conducted a ship-to-ship transfer with the North Korean-flagged Sam Ma 2 tanker in open seas during October.

“A DPRK-flagged (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) tanker, SAM MA 2 owned by Korea Samma Shipping Company, conducted a ship-to-ship transfer of oil and fabricated documents in mid-October 2017, loading almost 1,600 metric tons of fuel oil in one transaction,” the United Nations said.

It is the first confirmation of the Reuters report.

The U.N. Security Council on Friday blacklisted dozens of ships and shipping companies over oil and coal smuggling by North Korea, boosting pressure on Pyongyang as leader Kim Jong Un plans to meet with his South Korean and U.S. counterparts.

The council’s North Korea sanctions committee acted on a request by the United States, designating 21 shipping companies - including five based in China - 15 North Korean ships, 12 non-North Korean ships and a Taiwanese man.

The 12 non-North Korea ships are now subjected to a global port ban and must be deregistered, while the 15 North Korean ships are subjected to an asset freeze and 13 of those a global port ban.

The move comes days after Kim met Chinese President Xi Jinping and an announcement that the North Korean leader would meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in on April 27. He is also scheduled to meet U.S. President Donald Trump some time in May.

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and Jonathan Saul in London and Polina Nikolskaya in Moscow; Editing by Mark Potter

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