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Philippines seize second North Korea-operated ship

Customs officials failed to find banned items after impounding the chemical tanker Theresa Begonia.
By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |   March 15, 2016 at 12:46 PM
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MANILA, March 15 (UPI) -- The Philippines seized and searched another North Korean vessel at one of its ports, but no weapons were found on board.

The ship was impounded about a week after Manila put the new United Nations Security Council sanctions into effect March 4, with the seizure of the Jin Teng at Subic Bay.

The chemical tanker Theresa Begonia had entered a port in the southern Philippine province of Misamis Oriental on March 10, Yonhap reported.

The ship, which weighs 4,893 tons, was carrying palm oil from Malaysia, and according to a source at customs, included 22 crewmembers that included a captain, who were "all North Koreans," according to the Manila Bulletin.

Customs officials failed to find banned items, including firearms or equipment that could go toward the manufacturing of weapons of mass destruction.

The ship was registered as belonging to Tuvalu, an independent nation in the South Pacific. Similarly, the Jin Teng, another North Korea-operated ship, was registered as belonging to Sierra Leone, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Pyongyang is known to use "flags of convenience" in order to hide their ships' identity.

The Theresa Begonia is not included on the U.N. list of blacklisted ships, unlike the Jin Teng, which has been the target of a U.N.-backed asset freeze.

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