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HMS Richmond captures evidence of North Korean sanctions violations

HMS Richmond has captured evidence of merchant vessels violating United Nations sanctions against North Korea. (Ministry of Defence)

A UK Royal Navy Duke (Type 23)-class frigate has captured evidence of vessels violating United Nations (UN) sanctions enacted against North Korea's weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programme.

The evidence was captured by the frigate HMS Richmond when it conducted operations in the East China Sea in support of these sanctions, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 26 September in a statement. The sanctions were adopted in 2017 and prohibit the supply of fuel or refined petroleum products to North Korea.

“HMS Richmond's deployment in the East China Sea identified ships acting in suspected breach of UN sanctions and tracked vessels, which had previously not been flagged to the Enforcement Coordination Cell,” said Defence Secretary Ben Wallace in the statement.

The Enforcement Co-ordination Cell (ECC) is a multilateral naval construct that enforces maritime sanctions enacted by the UN Security Council resolutions. Contributors to the ECC include Australia, Canada, France, Japan, New Zealand, the UK, and the US.

Evidence provided by Richmond to the ECC include videos and photographs of these violations, the MoD said. It marks the first occasion since 2019 that a Royal Navy ship has supported UN sanctions monitoring and enforcement activity, the ministry added.

Vessels that were said to be in violation of these sanctions carried the flags of various countries.

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