S. Korea taking steps to scrap foreign ship suspected of violating antiN. Korea sanctions

SEOUL, South Korea has been taking steps to demolish a Panamaregistered ship suspected of engaging in shiptoship transfers of oil with North Korea last year in breach of U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang, Seoul's foreign ministry said Thursday.

The demolition process began last Friday after the owner of the 1,014ton ship, Katrin, made a request to scrap it due to the increasing cost of docking it at a port in South Korea's southeastern port city of Busan.

The ship's departure has been suspended since February, pending the South Korean authorities' investigation. The vessel is suspected of illegally transferring petroleum products to North Korean vessels three times from July to December.

"Though the investigation into the ship has yet to be completed, the decision has been made to destroy it based on the judgment that its demolition would not affect the overall investigation process," a ministry official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

"It would mark the first case of a ship being demolished pending a probe into its violation of antiNorth Korean sanctions," he added.

The ministry said that before finalizing the demolition decision, it consulted with key member countries of the sanctions committee of the U.N. Security Council.

Currently, six ships are being held in South Korea on suspicion of violating U.N. sanctions on the North. The authorities are still investigating two ships, including the Katrin, and have already finished their probe into the other four.

Source: Yonhap news Agency

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