Japan-North Korea Relations

Suspicion of illegal ship-to-ship transfers of goods by YU PHYONG 5, North Korean-flagged tanker, and small vessel of unknown nationality

(June 21&22, 2018)

June 27, 2018
Japanese

1. Overview

In the morning of June 21 2018, a AOE 'HAMANA' (Replenishment at Sea Squadron 1 : Sasebo) of Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force found that YU PHYONG 5(IMO number:8605026), North Korean-flagged tanker, was lying alongside a small vessel of unknown nationality on the high sea (around 440km south-southeastern offshore of Shanghai ) in the East China Sea.
In the morning of June 22 2018, a AOE 'HAMANA' found that YU PHYONG 5, North Korean-flagged tanker, was lying alongside a small vessel of unknown nationality that might be identical with a small vessel found previous day, on the high sea (around 450km south-southeastern offshore of Shanghai) in the East China Sea. After that, the small vessel of unknown nationality flew a flag that seemed like Chinese-flag.

Judging from the fact that the two vessels lay alongside each other and connected hoses on both days, 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 UNSCR.

In March, 2018, the Security Council Committee established pursuant to Resolution 1718 designated YU PHYONG 5 as a vessel subject to assets freeze and prohibited from port entry.

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    YU PHYONG 5 and a small vessel of unknown nationality lying alongside each other and connecting hoses
    (June 21, 9:10 (JST)) (Source: Ministry of Defense)
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    YU PHYONG 5 and a small vessel of unknown nationality lying alongside each other and connecting hoses
    (June 21, 9:15 (JST)) (Source: Ministry of Defense)
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    YU PHYONG 5 and a small vessel of unknown nationality lying alongside each other and connecting hoses
    (June 22, 11:10 (JST)) (Source: Ministry of Defense)
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    A small vessel of unknown nationality
    (June 21, 11:30 (JST)) (Source: Ministry of Defense)
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    A small vessel of unknown nationality
    (June 22, 15:30 (JST)) (Source: Ministry of Defense)
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    YU PHYONG 5
    (June 21, 11:30 (JST)) (Source: Ministry of Defense)

2. Japan’s Response

Japan notified the Security Council Committee of this incident and shared information with related countries. Japan also expressed its interest to China which could have relation to small vessel of unknown nationality.