Japan spotted a North Korean-flagged tanker apparently accepting an unknown cargo from a smaller vessel of unknown nationality in the East China Sea on 16 February: a move that raises suspicion that the ships may have been in breach of UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.
“Judging from the fact that the two vessels lay alongside each other and connected hoses, both vessels could have been engaged in some type of activity. Following a comprehensive assessment, the government of Japan strongly suspects that they conducted ship-to-ship transfers banned by UNSC resolutions”, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) in Tokyo said in a 20 February statement, pointing out that the smaller vessel had the designation Min Ning De You 078 written on it in Chinese characters.
Japan notified the UNSC and shared information with related countries.
The MoFA, which identified the North Korean-flagged tanker as Yu Jong 2 , said the two ships had been spotted on the high seas (around 250 km off Shanghai) by a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force P-3C Orion maritime reconnaissance aircraft.
Geng Shuang, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, reacted on 22 February by saying that his country has launched an investigation into the incident.
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