Philippines boards N. Korean freighter after UN sanctions

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Philippine authorities said Friday they had inspected a North Korean vessel within hours of the United Nations ordering cargo checks as part of tough new sanctions over Pyongyang’s nuclear programme.

An inspection team with bomb-sniffing dogs boarded the cargo ship Jin Teng at Subic port on Thursday after it was placed on a “watch list” by their headquarters, local coast guard commander Raul Belesario told AFP.

The inspection of the 6,830-tonne vessel came after a UN Security Council resolution was passed on Thursday morning, local time, requiring all countries to inspect cargo going to and from North Korea.

It also banned or restricted exports of coal, iron, iron ore and other minerals from North Korea, and prohibited the supply of aviation fuel, including for rockets.

Belesario said inspectors did not detect anything illegal on the boat, which was carrying palm oil kernels, but that it would be inspected again before it left the port, about 80 kilometres north of Manila.

He said he did not know when it would depart.

Belesario refused to say why the ship was on the watch list. The national coast guard spokesman in Manila and the foreign affairs ministry spokesman declined to give details.

But Belesario said the watch list directive triggered the action.

“According to our guidelines, ships that are placed on a watch list require comprehensive inspection,” Belesario said.

Asked to comment on the Philippine action, Kim Song-Jin, first secretary for the North Korean embassy in Thailand told AFP: “We are closely watching the situation.” The embassy also represents North Korea’s interests in the Philippines.

The Jin Teng is owned and managed by a Hong Kong-based company called Golden Soar Development, according to shipping monitor websites.

The UN resolution was passed on Wednesday night in New York, which was Thursday morning in the Philippines, after North Korea made its fourth nuclear test and rocket launch.

In response, Pyongyang fired six-short-range missiles into the sea on Thursday, while North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un ordered its nuclear arsenal put on standby for pre-empty use at anytime.

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Friday, March 4, 2016 – 16:29
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