North Korean ship caught likely violating sanctions, Japan says

This photograph from the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs allegedly shows a North Korean vessel engaging in a possible illicit ship-to-ship transfer.

Story highlights

  • Rye Song Gang is one of eight ships banned from ports
  • Ship was previously caught allegedly violating sanctions

Tokyo (CNN)Photographs taken by a Japanese spy plane show a North Korean tanker likely violating UN sanctions, Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Wednesday.

The images, taken Saturday, show the Rye Song Gang 1 appearing in the dark of night beside a Dominican-flagged ship, the Yuk Tung. The two ships then are seen sailing away from each other after the sun rises on Saturday morning.
"The (Japanese) government strongly suspect the two engaged offshore delivery which was banned by UN Security Council resolutions," the ministry said in a statement.
    The two ships parted ways after the sun rose Saturday.
    It's not the first time that the the Rye Song Gang 1 has been accused of engaging in illicit ship-to-ship transfers. The US Treasury Department released images of the ship allegedly conducting a transfer on October 19. It did not name the other ship involved, but the South Korean Foreign Ministry said it seized a Hong Kong-registered vessel, the Lighthouse Winmore, for transferring refined oil to a North Korean ship that same day.
    The Rye Song Gang was among eight ships banned from entering ports from across the globe in late December for violating UN sanctions on North Korea.
    "To have these large vessels engaged in this type of activity, that's troubling," said John Park, the director of the Korea Working Group at Harvard University's Kennedy