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Hugh Griffiths, head of the panel of experts investigating the implementation of UN sanctions against North Korea, announced the port bans at a briefing to UN member states yesterday. A North Korean diplomat attended the hour- long session.
Griffiths later told several reporters that "this is the first time in UN history" that the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against Pyongyang has prohibited ships from entering all ports.
He identified the four cargo ships as the Petrel 8, Hao Fan 6, Tong San 2 and Jie Shun.
According to MarineTraffic, a maritime database that monitors vessels and their moments, Petrel 8 is registered in Comoros, Hao Fan 6 in St. Kitts and Nevis, and Tong San 2 in North Korea. It does not list the flag of Tong San 2 but said that on Oct. 3 it was in the Bohai Sea off north China.
Griffiths said the four ships were officially listed on October 5 "for transporting prohibited goods," stressing that this was "swift action" by the sanctions committee following the Aug. 6 Security Council resolution that authorised port bans.
That resolution, which followed North Korea's first successful tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States, also banned the country from exporting coal, iron, lead and seafood products.
Those goods are estimated to be worth over USD 1 billion about one-third of the country's estimated $3 billion in exports in 2016.
The Security Council unanimously approved more sanctions on September 11, responding to North Korea's sixth and strongest nuclear test explosion on September 3.
These latest sanctions ban North Korea from importing all natural gas liquids and condensates, and cap its crude oil imports.
They also prohibit all textile exports, ban all joint ventures and cooperative operations, and bars any country from authorising new work permits for North Korean workers key sources of hard currency for the northeast Asian nation.
Both resolutions are aimed at increasing economic pressure on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea the country's official name to return to negotiations on its nuclear and missile programmes.
Griffiths told UN diplomats that the panel of experts is getting reports that the DPRK "is continuing its attempts to export coal" in violation of UN sanctions.
"We have as yet no evidence whatsoever of state complicity, but given the large quantities of money involved and the excess capacity of coal in the DPRK it probably comes as no surprise to you all that they're seeking to make some money here," he said.
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