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US forming international coalition to hunt shipments to North Korea

Muslim Times(Web Desk) -The United States is convening a multinational coalition to better track ships supplying fuel to North Korea in violation of UN sanctions, an American daily reports.

Citing US military officials, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, South Korea and France will join the US to form the coalition, which would also contribute warships and military surveillance aircraft to better spot shipments to the North.

The coalition is formed despite international calls on Washington to ease pressure in response to Pyongyang efforts toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

More than 50 personnel from allied countries will be hosted aboard an American command ship – the USS Blue Ridge – stationed in Yokosuka, Japan for the operations, according to the Journal.

This would be the first international effort to monitor the ship traffic in the year since US President Donald Trump launched its “maximum-pressure” sanctions campaign against North Korea.

The move will allow more “bridge-to-bridge” communications between allied ships and suspected smuggling ships, according to a military official.

Ships confirmed to be “smuggling” basic goods to sanctions-hit North Korea will be denied access to ports of any UN-member country.

This is happening despite moves Pyongyang has been taking toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula following a summit between Trump and North Koran leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore, during which the two leaders agreed to work toward denuclearization.

Pyongyang, which suspended its nuclear and missile tests even before that summit, has dismantled a nuclear site, and has returned the remains of US soldiers killed in the 1950-53 Korean War to America. This is while the international sanctions against Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile programs remain in place.

The US, which has been the main sponsor of the international sanctions, says the bans will remain in place against Pyongyang until its complete denuclearization. Experts, however, say dismantling Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program and verifying it would be a large and complex task.

During an event in Russian on Wednesday, President Vladimir Putin criticized Washington for not taking a single step in response to Pyongyang’s several moves toward denuclearization.

Speaking at the Eastern Economic Forum in Russia’s Far Eastern port city of Vladivosto, President Putin said North Korea, in return for taking a lot of steps toward denuclearization, “expects reciprocal steps and not endless demands for full disarmament.”

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