April 26 (UPI) -- Australia's defense ministry announced a maritime patrol to conduct surveillance enforcing sanctions against North Korea.
A P-8A Poseidon aircraft joined surveillance operations in Japan, where the guided-missile frigate HMAS Melbourne is already deployed with international partners, the ministry said in a statement on Friday.
Australia deployed maritime patrol aircraft to the Sea of Japan, which separates Japan from the Korean Peninsula, three times in 2018.
The Australian deployment enforces United Nations sanctions against North Korea. The U.N. Security Council has unanimously passed resolutions condemning North Korea for its ongoing nuclear weapons program.
The measures include a ban on sales of military equipment and any property convertible to military use, a freeze on assets of individuals in the nuclear program, bans on North Korean exports and a ban on importation of natural gas.
The United States has also frozen North Korean assets, and has prohibited some assistance to foreign governments that aid North Korea. Japan and the European Union have issued sanctions of their own, involving restrictions of diplomatic and commercial exchanges with North Korea, a prohibition of remittances of cash sent to North Korean citizens and a ban on imports and EU investment. South Korea's approach has been more conciliatory, with an eye toward eventual reunification of the country.
North Korean leader Kim Jung Un met with Russian President Vladimir Putin this week in Vladivostok, in part to seek Russian protection from the sanctions. Russia has consistently criticized the United States in its denuclearization talks with North Korea in the last two years, but has supported the U.N. opposition to North Korea's nuclear weapons program.