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Satellite Images Suggest Russia May be Smuggling Weapons to North Korea

Daniel Kim Views  

Yonhap News

Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reported on June 9 that a Russian-flagged cargo ship had docked at North Korea’s Najin Port last April. There are allegations that Russia may have violated UN Security Council (UNSC) sanctions against North Korea and transported weapons for North Korea.

The news outlet along with former UNSC North Korea Sanctions Committee expert panel member Furukawa Katsuhisa and U.S. private satellite company Planet Labs, analyzed satellite images and ship information from the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

In satellite images of Russia’s Vostochny Port taken from April 2-3, a ship appearing to be the cargo ship Lady R was spotted docking at the port. About ten days later, on April 14, a ship believed to be the same one was confirmed to have docked at North Korea’s Najin Port.

Several North Korean oil tankers were also found to have docked at Vostochny Port the same month. These tankers are likely to have carried refined petroleum products, the export of which to North Korea is restricted under UNSC resolutions. As the invasion of Ukraine continues, the interpretation is that the mutual dependence between North Korea and Russia is increasing.

According to the ship tracking website Marine Traffic, the cargo ship did not activate its Automatic Identification System (AIS) when moving from Vostochny Port to Najin Port, and its whereabouts during this time remain unknown.

In October of last year, the U.S. government announced that North Korea had begun supplying weapons and ammunition to Russia. From September 7 to 12 of that year, about 300 containers were transferred from Najin Port to Vladivostok Dunay Port in Russia by ship, and transported to an ammunition depot near Tikhoretsk in southwestern Russia, about 290 km from the Ukrainian border.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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