Ship Seized, Accused of Transferring Oil To North Korea
South Korea says it seized the Lighthouse Winmore in November
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 29, 2017 4:00 PM CST
The Lighthouse Winmore, a Hong Kong-flagged ship, is seen in waters off Yeosu, South Korea, Friday, Dec. 29, 2017.   (Hyung Min-woo/Yonhap via AP)

(Newser) – On the heels of reports Chinese ships were transferring oil to North Korean vessels in violation of UN sanctions, South Korea has announced it seized a ship suspected of doing just that last month, the BBC reports. South Korean officials say the Lighthouse Winmore picked up oil supposedly bound for Taiwan on Oct. 11 at a South Korean port before transferring 600 tons of it to a North Korean ship days later in international waters. The Lighthouse Winmore was seized when it returned to South Korea in November. According to the New York Times, the registered owner of the vessel is Hong Kong's Win More Shipping, whose only listed director lives in China. The Lighthouse Winmore's 25-person crew—almost entirely Chinese citizens—will be free to leave South Korea following an investigation, South Korean officials say.

A UN Security Council resolution bans ships from transferring any goods headed to North Korea, and President Trump recently claimed China had been "caught red-handed" facilitating the shipment of oil to North Korea. China denies it, and there's no evidence it was involved in any activity involving the Lighthouse Winmore, which had been leased to a Taiwanese company. Diplomats say the US is pushing the UN Security Council to blacklist 10 ships it accuses of violating international sanctions against North Korea, the Wall Street Journal reports. But China is apparently only agreeing to blacklist four ships—and the Lighthouse Winmore isn't one of them. Meanwhile, Reuters has an exclusive report that Russian tankers have transferred fuel to North Korean ships at sea at least three times recently.

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