The South Korean Foreign Ministry said the Lighthouse Winmore left the port of Yeosu in South Korea carrying refined oil which was then transferred to a North Korean ship in international waters on October 19. The US Treasury Department released satellite imagery in November of two ships allegedly performing an illegal ship-to-ship transfer in international waters on the same day. It identified one of the ships as a sanctioned North Korean vessel, the Rye Song Gang 1, but did not name the other. The UN Security Council on Thursday added the Rye Song Gan 1 and three other vessels to a list of ships banned from docking at ports worldwide for breaching North Korea sanctions.
South Korean officials could not confirm Friday whether the second ship was the Lighthouse Winmore. “UN Security Council sanctions prohibit the transfer of anything to a North Korean ship,” a South Korean Foreign Ministry official told CNN, adding the Lighthouse Winmore was seized when it re-entered Yeosu on November 24.
Upon learning of the news, President Trump tweeted his displeasure with China.
According to a senior State Department official, the US is aware of the situation. “We are aware that certain vessels have engaged in UN-prohibited activities, including ship-to-ship transfers of refined petroleum and the transport of coal from North Korea.” “We have evidence that some of the vessels engaged in these activities are owned by companies in several countries, including China.” “We condemn these acts and hope that any UNSC members, including China, work more closely together to shut down smuggling activities,” the official added, noting that the US urges “China to end all economic ties with DPRK, including tourism, and the provision of any oil or petroleum products, and expel all DPRK workers.”
The US Treasury Department announced in November that a series of North Korea shipping and trading companies had attempted to conduct a ship-to-ship transfer — likely of oil — to evade UN sanctions.