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(LEAD) U.N. blacklists dozens of ships, businesses over N.K. smuggling

2018/03/31 06:20

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NEW YORK, March 30 (Yonhap) -- The United Nations Security Council on Friday blacklisted 27 ships, 21 companies and a businessman for helping North Korea evade sanctions, according to news reports.

The council's North Korea sanctions committee made the designations at the request of the United States, which has vowed to keep pressure on North Korea over its nuclear weapons program despite recent moves toward dialogue.

The action bans global port entry for 13 North Korean oil tankers and cargo vessels, and 12 other ships suspected of helping North Korea smuggle oil and banned commodities. Two other North Korean ships were slapped with a global assets freeze.

The 21 shipping and trading firms were also hit by an assets freeze. Twelve of them are North Korean, three are based in Hong Kong, two in China, while the others are registered in Singapore, Samoa, the Marshall Islands and Panama, the AFP reported.

The sanctioned individual -- a businessman named Tsang Yung Yuan -- was placed under a global travel ban and assets freeze for helping illegal shipments of North Korean coal, the report said.

The U.S. had originally sought a ban on 33 ships and 27 firms, but China called for a review of the list.

North Korea has come under growing international sanctions for its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

Last year the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted four sanctions resolutions designed to deprive the regime of the money and fuel to develop the weapons.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said Friday's action is the largest ever set of U.N. designations against the North, according to the AP. She also said it was "a clear sign" of the international community's resolve to maintain "maximum pressure" on the regime.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has credited its "maximum pressure" campaign for forcing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to come out for talks about denuclearization.

Trump and Kim are expected to meet before the end of May, following a summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim on April 27.