North Korea sanction SECRET ship-to-ship transfer with China
SNEAKY North Korea have ignored strict UN sanctions after a ship marked with Chinese characters was spotted in an apparent cargo transfer with Kim Jong-un’s men, the Japanese foreign ministry have claimed.
This incident marks the third time this year that Tokyo has reported a cargo transfer by a North Korean vessel.
Such a transfer is in complete violation of UN sanctions over Pyongyang’s banned nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.
Late Tuesday, Japan’s foreign ministry said an escort vessel and military patrol plane and witnessed the alleged transfer in the East China Sea on Friday afternoon.
The Japanese navy claim to have found the Yu Jong 2 – aNorth Korean-flagged tanker – lying alongside a small vessel of unknown nationality ‘on the high sea’ roughly 250 kilometres (155 miles) offshore from the Chinese city of Shanghai.
The ministry said four Chinese characters reading ‘Min Ning De You 078’ (translated to ‘Fujian Province, Ningde City, oil tanker 078’ in English) marked the small vessel.
Following a comprehensive assessment, the ministry announced that the Government of Japan strongly suspects that they conducted ship-to-ship transfers banned by the UN Security Council resolutions.
Tokyo said it reported the incident to the council directly and shared information with relevant countries.
There was no immediate indication of whether the incident had been raised formally with Beijing.
The incident comes as the world watches North Korea’s participation in the Winter Olympics, hosted by South Korea, in a diplomatic push by Kim Jong Un’s isolated regime.
All UN member states are prohibited from facilitating or engaging in ship-to-ship transfers of goods to or from North Korean-flagged vessels.
It is just one in a series of UN Security Council sanctions Pyongyang is subject to.
The previous incidents reported by Japan this year both involved North Korean tanker Rye Song Gang 1 – one of the vessels denied international port access by the Security Council.
Following the news, three sources have reported that Japan plans to buy at least 20 additional F-35A stealth fighters over the next six years, some or all of which it may purchase directly from Lockheed Martin Corp in the United States rather than assemble locally.
A source with knowledge of the plan said: “In view of budgets and production schedules a new acquisition of around 25 planes is appropriate.”
The sources said buying complete aircraft from the United States, at about $100million each, will save Japan roughly $30million per airframe.
The purchase will add to an earlier order for 42 of the fighters, most of which are being constructed at a “final assembly and check out” plant in Japan operated by the country’s leading defence contractor – Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
As North Korea pushes ahead with its nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programmes, adding F-35s will further increase Japan’s reliance on US military technology to give it an edge over potential antagonists in East Asia.
When asked whether Japan planned to buy more F-35s, Japanese Minister of Defence Itsunori Onodera said: “We have not yet made any plan and we are evaluating what fighter aircraft we need.”