Nine suspected North Korean coal shipments are under investigation on allegations of having entered South Korean ports in violation of UN Security Council sanctions, a Foreign Ministry official said Monday.
Concerns have flared recently that South Korean entities could face US sanctions following reports that vessels carrying North Korean coal entered South Korean ports in breach of a UN ban on exports of coal from the communist nation.
Media reports said Monday that the United States is taking a serious look at those suspected shipments, raising speculation that South Korean entities, including one affiliated with the state-run power supplier, could be blacklisted.
But the Foreign Ministry official rejected such concerns.
“Suspected shipments of North Korean coal are something that the South and the US have closely worked together on from the beginning. The US appreciates our efforts too,” the official told reporters.
“The US government has expressed no concern whatever to us.”
The official also said the US considers the South a trustworthy partner sincerely implementing UN sanctions and the US imposes unilateral sanctions only when violations happen in a repeated and systematic manner, which he claimed is different from the South Korean cases.
“There are nine cases of (North Korean) coal shipments that we’re looking at with interest,” the official said, declining to provide further specifics, saying some of the cases could be cleared of suspicions through the investigation.
Adopted in December last year following the North’s launch of a long-range missile, UNSC Resolution 2397 allows a country to capture and look into a vessel suspected of engaging in prohibited activities with North Korea. Resolution 2371, passed in August last year, imposes a blanket ban on the overseas sale of North Korean coal, iron ore and other mineral resources. (Yonhap)