US seizes North Korean cargo ship accused of violating sanctions

AFP
New York, NY, USA Published: May 09, 2019, 10:46 PM(IST)

This undated image released by the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, shows the cargo vessel "Wise Honest." Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

"Our office uncovered North Korea's scheme to export tons of high-grade coal to foreign buyers by concealing the origin of their ship, the Wise Honest," US attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement.

The United States on Thursday announced the seizure of a North Korean cargo ship, saying it had violated international sanctions by exporting coal and importing machinery.

"Our office uncovered North Korea's scheme to export tons of high-grade coal to foreign buyers by concealing the origin of their ship, the Wise Honest," US attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement.

"This scheme not only allowed North Korea to evade sanctions, but the Wise Honest was also used to import heavy machinery to North Korea," Berman said.

The ship, which was first confiscated by other foreign maritime authorities in Indonesia in April 2018, is now in the possession of the United States and is currently approaching US territorial waters, a Justice Department official said.

The 17,061-ton ship, which also was used to deliver heavy machinery to North Korea, is one of the country's largest bulk carriers, the Justice Department said.

The case marks the first time the United States has seized a North Korean cargo vessel for violating sanctions.

According to UN sanctions monitors, the Wise Honest was transporting 25,500 tons of coal when it was detained by Indonesia in April 2018.

The UN report estimated that the value of the ship's coal cargo was around $3 million.

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