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Japan flags new suspected North Korea sanctions breach

Japan said on Friday it had reported to the UN a suspected sanctions violation by North Korea involving a ship-to-ship transfer, days after Tokyo said another suspected breach had been flagged.

The incident is the sixth time this year Tokyo has reported a cargo transfer involving a North Korean vessel, in violation of sanctions over Pyongyang’s banned nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, a foreign ministry official said.

A Japanese military escort ship spotted the North Korean tanker alongside a vessel named MYONG RYU 1 of unknown nationality in the East China Sea on May 24, the ministry said in a statement.

“The (Japanese) government strongly suspects they were transferring goods, which is banned under UN Security Council resolutions,” it said.

The ministry identified the North Korean tanker as the SAM JONG 2, one of the vessels denied international port access by the UN Security Council.

On Tuesday, Tokyo said it had reported a similar case involving a North Korean-flagged tanker and a small vessel, which appeared to be flying what “seemed like” a Chinese flag.

Pyongyang is subject to a series of UN sanctions, including one prohibiting all member states from facilitating or engaging in ship-to-ship transfers of goods to or from North Korean-flagged vessels.

Tokyo’s claims come amid a flurry of diplomatic activity ahead of an expected summit between the North’s leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump next month.

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