Philippines releases seized North Korean ship

North Korean cargo ship M/V Jin Teng has been released by the Philippine authorities after being held in the country for almost a month on the grounds of the newly-imposed UN sanctions against Pyongyang, Reuters reports.

The decision follows the UN Security Council’s decision from earlier this week to remove the ship from its blacklist of 31 North Korean vessels suspected of being involved in arms dealing.

Pursuant to the decision, four vessels were unlisted as the Council had determined that the ships in question were not economic resources controlled or operated by North Korean shipping company Ocean Maritime Management and “therefore not subject to the asset freeze”.

The ships are JH 86 (IMO no. 8602531); JIN Tal (IMO no. 9163154); JIN TENG (IMO no. 9163166) and GRAND KARO (IMO no. 8511823).

Based on the latest AIS data from Marine Traffic, the ship has left Olongapo, the Philippines and is underway in the Subic Bay using engine. The ship, carrying 21 crew members on board is said to be bound for China, after clearing immigration, customs, quarantine and port authorities,  coastguard spokesman Commander Armand Balilo is quoted by Reuters as saying.

The North Korean cargo ship  was the country’s first vessel to be inspected after the new sanctions came into force. Despite the fact that no contraband was found on board during inspection, the 1997-built MV Jin Teng (formerly Balsa 62) was held in Olongapo port due to safety issues. The vessel was subsequently impounded and it received a notice of asset freeze from the Philippines coast guard.

The UN sanctions were imposed due to North Korea’s ongoing nuclear and ballistic missile-related activities.

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