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Philippines seizes North Korean ship under UN sanctions

The Philippines has reportedly impounded a North Korean vessel in response to tough new sanctions imposed by the United Nations over Pyongyang's nuclear program. It's the first time the measures have been enforced.

The Jin Teng cargo ship will not be allowed to leave the port of Subic, and its 21 crew members will be deported, a Philippine government spokesman said Saturday.

"The world is concerned over North Korea's nuclear weapons program and as a member of the UN, the Philippines has to do its part to enforce the sanctions," presidential spokesman Manolo Quezon told reporters.

The Jin Teng, flying a Sierra Leone flag, arrived in Subic Bay north of Manila on Thursday afternoon. The Coast Guard said its personnel carried out an inspection of the freighter, which is carrying palm kernels, before it was allowed to berth at the port. A team from the UN was also expected to search the ship.

Harsh measures

The UN Security Council on Wednesday adopted its toughest sanctions to date against North Korea in response to Pyongyang's recent nuclear and ballistic missile tests. The new measures include a complete ban on sales of conventional weapons to the North, travel bans and asset freezes on 16 individuals and 12 entities, as well as the requirement that countries inspect all North Korean cargo.

The UN resolution said 31 ships - including the Jin Teng - were "economic resources controlled or operated by Ocean Maritime Management and therefore subject to the asset freeze."

The Philippines' seizure of the Jin Teng is the first reported instance of the sanctions being enforced.

Pyongyang reacts

In response to the UN's move, Pyongyang fired six short-range missiles into the sea on Thursday, while North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un ordered his country's nuclear arsenal to be put on standby for pre-emptive use.

On Friday, the European Union also tightened sanctions against North Korea by adding 16 people and 12 entities to a list of some 60 individuals and groups hit with travel bans and asset freezes.

Despite North Korea's posturing about its military might, the extent of its nuclear capabilities remains unclear. Few think the secretive country's missiles could reach the United States, but some experts believe Pyongyang has the capability to strike South Korea and Japan with shorter range missiles.

Infografik Chronologie des nordkroeanischen Atom- und Raketenprogramms Englisch

nm/tj (AFP, dpa)

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