Japan-North Korea Relations

Suspicion of illegal ship-to-ship transfers of goods by AN SAN 1, North Korean-flagged tanker, and small vessels of unknown nationality

(May 13&14, 2019)

June 18, 2019
Japanese

1. Overview

Before dawn of May 13 to the morning of May 14, 2019, a JS ‘Hatakaze’ (Escort Division1: Yokosuka) of Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force found that AN SAN 1 (IMO number:7303803), North Korean-flagged tanker, was lying alongside two small vessels of unknown nationality six times in total on the high seas (around 400km southern offshore of Shanghai) in the East China Sea.

Judging from the fact that these vessels lay alongside each other and connected hoses, these 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 United Nations Security Council Resolution.

In March 2018, the Security Council Committee established pursuant to Resolution 1718 designated AN SAN 1 as a vessel subject to assets freeze and prohibited from port entry.

The first, third and fifth cases were considered to be conducted by the identical small vessel “A”. The second, fourth and sixth cases were considered to be conducted by the identical small vessel “B”.

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    A small vessel of unknown nationality “A” lying alongside AN SAN 1
    (May 13 05:00 (JST)) (Source: Ministry of Defense)
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    A small vessel of unknown nationality “A” lying alongside AN SAN 1
    (May 13 05:00(JST)) (Source: Ministry of Defense)
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    A small vessel of unknown nationality “B” lying alongside AN SAN 1
    (May 13 09:50(JST)) (Source: Ministry of Defense)
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    A small vessel of unknown nationality “A” lying alongside AN SAN 1
    (May 13 18:50(JST)) (Source: Ministry of Defense)
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    A small vessel of unknown nationality “A” lying alongside AN SAN 1
    (May 13 19:00(JST)) (Source: Ministry of Defense)
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    A small vessel of unknown nationality “B” lying alongside AN SAN 1
    (May 13 20:00(JST)) (Source: Ministry of Defense)
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    A small vessel of unknown nationality “B” lying alongside AN SAN 1
    (May 13 20:00(JST)) (Source: Ministry of Defense)
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    A small vessel of unknown nationality “A” lying alongside AN SAN 1
    (May 14 03:00(JST)) (Source: Ministry of Defense)
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    A small ship of unknown nationality “B” lying alongside AN SAN 1
    (May 14 05:30(JST)) (Source: Ministry of Defense)
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    A small ship of unknown nationality “B” lying alongside AN SAN 1
    (May 14 05:50(JST)) (Source: Ministry of Defense)
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    AN SAN 1
    (May 13 06:10(JST)) (Source: Ministry of Defense)
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    A small ship of unknown nationality “A”
    (May 13 05:50(JST)) (Source: Ministry of Defense)
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    A small ship of unknown nationality “B”
    (May 14 06:40(JST)) (Source: Ministry of Defense)

2. Japan’s Response

Japan notified the Security Council Committee (Panel of Experts) of this incident and shared information with related countries.