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Report: North Korea ships blocked in China head to Russia

By Elizabeth Shim
Russian ports inspected more ships from North Korea, and more North Korean vessels arrived in Russian ports than in China. File Photo by Yuri Kochetkov/EPA
Russian ports inspected more ships from North Korea, and more North Korean vessels arrived in Russian ports than in China. File Photo by Yuri Kochetkov/EPA

Jan. 22 (UPI) -- More North Korean ships are heading to Russia as sanctions take root and Chinese ports are under scrutiny for trade with Pyongyang.

North Korea may be coping with the blacklisting of ships under international embargoes by sending more vessels to Russia than China in the second half of 2018, Voice of America reported Monday.

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According to data from the Port State Control Committee of the Asia Pacific, 55 ships of North Korean origin docked at Russian ports while 38 ships docked in China.

The data set is from July to December 2017.

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In 2016, trends were moving in reverse, with 135 North Korean vessels receiving inspections in China between July and December 2016, while 55 vessels were registered as arrivals in Russia, according to the report.

The number of North Korean vessels headed to China was already declining by March 2017, a possible sign China was implementing sanctions while North Koreans cut back on trade with its largest trading partner.

China's commerce ministry has also stated it would not import North Korean coal, in compliance with United Nations Security Council sanctions Resolution 2321.

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U.N. member states have not been uniformly implementing sanctions, and countries like Japan are using diplomatic channels to assist with implementation, Kyodo News reported Sunday.

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In Southeast Asia, Japanese officers are to train Southeast Asian financial authorities in money-laundering prevention, and in Africa Tokyo will send specialists who will introduce technology that can be used to detect weapons components, the report stated.

Japan has been on high alert since two North Korean missiles flew over the country.

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Authorities have previously sent messages by phone alerts, warning people to take cover.

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