The United Nations has banned four more North Korean ships from entering international ports for breaching sanctions against Pyongyang, bringing to eight the total number of the Eastern Asian country’s blacklisted vessels.
The UN Security Council voted on Thursday to deny international port access to the four vessels – the Ul Ji Bong 6, Rung Ra 2, Sam Jong 2 and Rye Song Gang 1.
The decision was made upon a request from the United States, unnamed diplomats said, noting that Washington was also going after a number of ships registered in other countries.
Apparently, the list was longer but China, the North’s main trade ally, only agreed with banning the four ships.
“Only four ships have been accepted” for the ban, said one diplomat, adding that “the procedure remains open” to include more vessels in the future.
Earlier this month, Washington had submitted a list that included several vessels flying flags from Belize, China, Hong Kong, Palau and Panama.
Shortly before the Security Council decision, US President Donald Trump — whose administration has put China under pressure to force North Korea into halting its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs — blasted Beijing for failing to cut off oil supply to the North.
“Caught RED HANDED – very disappointed that China is allowing oil to go into North Korea,” Trump said on Twitter. “There will never be a friendly solution to the North Korea problem if this continues to happen!”
In 2017, the Security Council targeted North Korea with three sets of sanctions beginning with the country’s iron, coal and fishing industries in August.
In September, the sanctions were expanded to include the North’s textile exports while limiting oil supply. The most recent round of bans came on December 22 and targeted refined petroleum products.
The US has accused North Korean ships of trafficking banned goods and transferring cargo between different ships on the high seas.
The UN announced in early October that it had identified four ships “carrying prohibited goods” and would proceed to slap a port ban on them as a “first in United Nations” history, according to Hugh Griffiths, part of a UN panel that oversees the application of sanctions on Pyongyang.