TOKYO—Japan said on May 29 that it had detected what appeared to be a Chinese-flagged vessel, 218 miles off the coast of Shanghai, conducting illegal transfers to a North Korean ship.
“Following a comprehensive assessment, the government of Japan strongly suspects that they conducted ship-to-ship transfers banned by UNSCR,” Japan‘s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a news release, referring to the U.N. Security Council resolutions.
A Japanese P-3 maritime patrol plane detected the vessels, which lay alongside each other connected by hoses, on May 19, with one of the ships flying what seemed like a Chinese flag, it said.
China‘s Foreign Ministry said the information provided was “unclear” and it was hard to reach any definitive conclusions.
Japan‘s decision to voice its suspicion comes as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump prepared for what may be a breakthrough summit as early as next month.
Japan is urging the United States and other countries to stick to a strict imposition of U.N. sanctions on North Korea until it abandons the development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
In April, the U.N. Security Council blacklisted dozens of ships and shipping companies over oil and coal smuggling by North Korea, including five based in China. The vessels are subject to a global port ban and must be deregistered.
In December last year, U.S. satellites detected Chinese ships illegally transferring oil to North Korean vessels in the Yellow Sea.
From Reuters. Epoch Times staff member Annie Wu contributed to this report.