UN slaps global port ban on ships for North Korea sanctions violations

A UN global port ban has been imposed on four vessels found transporting prohibited goods

"But it's a port ban", said Hugh Griffiths, a U.N. Security Council coordinator, adding the ships were found "transporting prohibited goods".

Griffiths, a British arms trafficking expert, told reporters in New York Monday that these ships were found to be transporting prohibited goods and were officially listed last Thursday, an action authorized by the sanctions committee.

In August, the United Nations adopted a resolution prohibiting North Korea from exporting coal, seafood and iron ore. Both have previously vetoed harsher sanctions on the secretive state.

He said the ban, which went into effect on 5 October, did not entail asset freezes or travel bans. Last month the sanctions expanded, are now forbidden the export of textiles and restrictions on the import of oil and work for the people of North Korea. It also described Petrel 8 as flying under the flag of Comoros, while Jie Shun is under Cambodia and Hao Fan 6 under Saint Christopher and Nevis.

Griffiths was speaking at the conclusion of the second United Nations meeting on enforcing North Korea sanctions. That resolution, which followed North Korea's first successful tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States, also banned the country from exporting coal, iron, lead and seafood products. Estimates say that North Korea exports about $3bn worth of goods each year - and the sanctions could eliminate $1bn of that trade.

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The punitive tariffs will now have to be approved by the US International Trade Commission (ITC) early next year. Some analysts said the muted response reflected a view that the penalties might not actually be applied.

North Korean diplomats were present at the meeting but did not speak, according to diplomats.

Of the four ships, Tong San 2 is the only one flagged to North Korea, according to Vessel Finder, a tracking system that provides information on ships' locations. The Jie Shun is not listed on the site. "But, of course, to be effective, sanctions must be applied by all the world", he argued.

The main economic partner of North Korea, China signed the sanctions along with Russian Federation.

The Council of the European Union on Tuesday said it was restricting work permits granted to North Korean nationals as well as the sale of natural gas and petroleum to the Asian country in response to Pyongyang's controversial nuclear and ballistic missile programme.

However, repeated sanctions have been unable to constrain North Korea from continuing its programs to develop nuclear weapons and missiles.

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