North Korea dodged international sanctions with the largest shipment of ammunition yet discovered in the communist nation’s sanctions history under the guise of Cambodia’s flag, according to Kyodo News.
Citing a UN experts’ report, the Japanese outlet revealed that the shipment aboard the vessel Jie Shun was discovered in August last year – the same month Cambodia ended its long-running “flags of convenience” scheme, which concealed a litany of violations including arms trading, drug smuggling and human trafficking. Vessel tracking sites show Jie Shun was a Cambodian-flagged ship that docked at a port near Cairo.
Maritime databases yesterday indicated there are 17 ships whose last known flag was Cambodian and who appear not to have reregistered under a different nation since the scheme was rescinded, though it was unknown if they were still flying the flag illegally.
Chan Dara, director-general of waterways, maritime transport and ports at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, yesterday said “if other ships [are] flying the flag of Cambodia, they are treated as no nationality and … international rules must apply”.
He requested a list of the 17 suspicious ships and promised to “take action immediately”, but refused to address questions as to whether the decision to end Cambodia’s flags of convenience was linked to the discovery of the North Korean shipment.