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North Korean Cargo Ship Seized by the Philippines Under Strict New UN Sanctions

The freighter, which was flying the flag of Sierra Leone, will also have its 21 crew members deported while Manila awaits the arrival of a UN inspection team.

by Reuters and VICE News
Mar 5 2016, 1:50pm

Photo via EPA

Read and watch more about North Korea in "March Madness," a VICE News special section on the Hermit Kingdom.

The Philippines said on Saturday it had seized a North Korean freighter that was covered by harsher United Nations sanctions against Pyongyang over its nuclear program.

Manila will also deport the vessel's 21 North Korean crew and will await a UN inspection team, foreign ministry spokesman Charles Jose said.

"In compliance with the United Nations resolution, the North Korean ship in Subic will be impounded and not allowed to leave port," he said.

The cargo ship Jin Teng was one of the first sanctioned North Korean ships to enter a foreign port since the UN Security Council unanimously passed tightened sanctions on Wednesday. A total of 31 North Korean ships are on the UN's watchlist.

Related: The UN Security Council's New North Korea Sanctions Are All About China

"The world is concerned over North Korea's nuclear weapons program and as a member of the UN, the Philippines has to do its part to enforce the sanctions," said Manolo Quezon, deputy presidential spokesman told reporters.

The ship, which was flying the flag of Sierra Leone, arrived on February 27 and was unloading palm kernels.

"We have sent teams to guard the ship until we get the formal order from the government," said Commander Armand Balilo, coast guard spokesman.

On Friday, the coast guard barred the ship from leaving port, citing safety deficiencies found during an inspection.

The inspection was conducted after the UN Security Council passed the resolution against Pyongyang. The resolution said the 31 ships were "economic resources controlled or operated by Ocean Maritime Management and therefore subject to the asset freeze".

The Jin Teng has called at Palembang, Indonesia, and Kaohsiung, Taiwan, since the beginning of this year, ship tracking data available on the Reuters Eikon Terminal showed.

In addition to implementing mandatory cargo inspections, the UN resolution bans the export, with certain exceptions, of several commodities, including iron, coal, and rare earth metals, which North Korea has used to finance its nuclear program.

Related: Why North Korea's Space Program Is Like a PlayStation 4

Countries are also explicitly prohibited from selling North Korea aircraft fuel, including the type used to fuel its rockets, as well as all small arms and conventional weapons. Luxury goods, such as watches, jet skis, and snowmobiles — items Power said "the ruling elite seems to prioritize over their own people" — will also now be banned.

The resolution also requires countries to expel North Korean officials that are found to have abused their diplomatic protections overseas. In total, Security Council diplomats said the new course of sanctions were the strongest the body had adopted in two decades.

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