Russian Coal Ship Intercepted & Seized

( – In early April, the South Korean Coast Guard detained a cargo ship traveling from North Korea to Japan. South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said it stepped up its monitoring of ships to check for sanctions violations. The ship reportedly refused orders to stop, so the military detained the vessel. Two months later, it happened again.

On June 20, the South Korean government confirmed it seized a 2,900-ton freighter traveling through the Korea Straight that runs between South Korea and Japan. The ship was reportedly carrying Russian freight from North Korea to China and was allegedly violating UN Security Council sanctions.

The South Korean Foreign Ministry told a Seoul-based news agency, Yonhap, that the ship was detained and anchored in the Busan port with a small crew still onboard. Their nationality is unclear. It was reportedly carrying iron ore and coal from Russia to China, and the ministry was unable to say which sanctions the ship allegedly violated.

South Korea is reportedly allowed, under international maritime law, to stop any vessels it suspects of violating UN Security Council sanctions. The nation can stop the ship, detain or move it for investigation. The sanctions were put in place by the security council in 2006, banning the trade of weapons and military equipment in an attempt to force North Korea to denuclearize.

The UN Security Council strengthened those sanctions in 2009, 2013, 2016, 2017, and 2022 — adding other materials to the banned list. The UN, the United States, Australia, Japan, the EU, and South Korea have all imposed sanctions against North Korea. Still, the country has continued on with its weapons development program.

In addition to this vessel and the one in April, South Korea reportedly seized other ships in the same area — both in 2017. They were reportedly transferring oil products from one ship to another.

There have been no formal updates as to the status of the investigation since the seizure.

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