April 08, 2019 10:01
A 4,500-ton U.S. Coast Guard cutter on Saturday arrived in the southeastern port of Busan after a week of joint exercises with the South Korean Coast Guard off Jeju Island.
Last week the Bertholf took part in the joint interdiction exercise targeting ships engaging in illegal ship-to-ship transfers of fuel and goods for North Korea.
The Bertholf's continued presence here sends a warning to both North Korea and neighboring countries that sanctions violations will not be tolerated.
But a South Korean Navy spokesman said the cutter's port call in Busan is "for crew to take a rest and replenish food, fuel and other materials" and no further joint drills are scheduled.
"The Bertholf itself symbolizes Washington's will to implement North Korea sanctions thoroughly," a diplomatic source said. "It's sending an indirect warning to Seoul over its attempt to ease them" like restarting the cross-border Kaesong Industrial Complex and package tours to the Mt. Kumgang resort.
A South Korean-flagged ship has been detained in Busan for over six months for illegal ship-to-ship transfers of some 4,300 tons of refined oil to a North Korean tanker in international waters.
In a rare foray, the Bertholf has been patrolling waters around the Korean Peninsula to monitor and interdict ships violating the sanctions for about two months since leaving its home port of Alameda, California in January.
Other countries are also helping to enforce the sanctions.
According to the Japanese Foreign Ministry on Saturday, the British Royal Navy conducted joint operations with the Japanese navy in the East China Sea last month. They intercepted the North Korean tanker Saebyol and an unidentified ship on suspicion of illegal ship-to-ship transfers of oil.
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