Japan notifies UN of fuel transfers by North Korean tanker

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Illustrative picture. PHOTO CREDIT: SHIPS & PORTS archive

Japan’s foreign ministry said Tuesday it has notified the United Nations Security Council of suspected ship-to-ship fuel transfers by a North Korean-flagged tanker in the East China Sea.

Japanese maritime self-defense forces observed the An San 1 tanker on May 13-14 with hoses connected to two smaller ships alongside it, according to the foreign ministry.

“Following a comprehensive assessment, the government of Japan strongly suspects that they conducted ship-to-ship transfers banned by United Nations Security Council Resolution,” Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

cFlow, Platts trade flow software, shows no port history for the past two years by the chemical and oil products carrier.

The UN designated in March 2018 the An San 1 as a ship subject to asset freeze and prohibited from port entry.

The US Treasury Department earlier this year listed the An San 1 among 28 North Korean ships capable of engaging in ship-to-ship oil transfers.

The Treasury’s March report identified 263 refined product deliveries to North Korea from banned ship-to-ship transfers in 2018.

The deliveries would amount to 3.78 million barrels, if all ships were fully laden — or more than seven times the annual limit that North Korea is allowed to import under UN sanctions.