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Maritime noose around North Korea tightens

Maritime noose around North Korea tightens

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The maritime noose around the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) is tightening in the wake of a series of missile tests carried out by the Kim Jong Un-led regime in recent weeks. A number of ship registries in the Pacific could be set to lose business in the process.

A New Zealand-led proposal pitched at today’s Pacific Island Forum in Samoa will help identify North Korean fishing and cargo vessels that fly under the radar using the flags of small Pacific states – and get them deregistered.

The registers of the likes of Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Kiribati, and Fiji have welcomed many North Korean ships onto their books over the years.

Commenting on today’s news, Paul French, author of North Korea: State of Paranoia, told Splash: “Dealing with the long-standing international problem of ship flagging is necessary if enhanced sanctions against the DPRK are to work. Additionally, ship registries need to be aware that it appears President Trump is serious about possibly imposing US third party sanctions against countries and companies that try to work round the sanctions regime.”

Menawhile, in New York, the United States has circulated a draft resolution at the United Nations Security Council in a bid to intercept North Korean ships at sea, inspect them to check if they are carrying weapons material or fuel into the country, and use “all necessary measures” to enforce compliance.

This is part of a draft that would ban the shipment of all crude oil, refined petroleum and natural gas to North Korea, as part of punitive sanctions the Trump administration is trying to push through in the wake of North Korea’s recent nuclear tests.

The resolution is set to go to a vote by Monday, with China and Russia, both with veto powers at the Security Council, likely to shoot it down.

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Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.

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