North Korean ship busted making illegal oil trade by French Navy frigate

North Korea risks further UN sanctions after a French Navy ship busted an illegal ship-to-ship oil transfer near the rogue state.

Frigate Prairial was patrolling the East China Sea as part of a UN embargo to stop the Hermit Kingdom creating nukes in defiance of international law.

She spotted two oilers engaged in the suspicious activity in the middle of the night, with Alpaci – France Pacific Command sharing photos of the Floréal-class frigate's operation on Twitter on Tuesday.

It wrote: "On February 28, Frigate PRAIRIAL @MarineNationale deployed to the East China Sea to contribute to the UN embargo against North Korea, under French mission AETO.

"At night, she identified two oilers during a suspected ship transfer, and reported to the Enforcement Coordinate Cell."

France files its surveillance reports to the UN Panel of Experts on North Korea, Naval News reports.

The panel investigates breaches of UN resolutions and can recommend sanctions to be imposed against the country.

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Fears are growing that North Korea is continuing to develop nuclear weapons in defiance of international law, putting the US at a “different level of tension” with the hermit kingdom.

Surveillance photos from the Maxar spy satellite show what appear to be secret tunnels at a facility in Yongdoktong.

After the images emerged, Rear Admiral Michael Studeman, head of intelligence for the US Indo-Pacific command, said: ”We have our eye on this. And it is deeply concerning where North Korea wants to go.”

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Last week the UN’s Rafael Mariano Grossi said there was evidence that a radiochemical laboratory in Yongbyon was being used to reprocess plutonium for nuclear bombs.

Mr Grossi described the continued nuclear activity as a clear and “deeply regrettable” violation of UN sanctions.

In January, Kim Jong-Un signalled plans to develop new nuclear weapons and described the US as North Korea’s “biggest enemy”.

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The new spy satellite images give further weight to suspicions that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un is accelerating Pyongyang’s program to develop a nuclear warhead small enough to be delivered by its current generation of missiles.

Prairial was deployed for the mission from her home port in Tahiti, French Polynesia on January 15.

She set sails as part of France's contribution to the international embargo against North Korea to fight against nuclear proliferation.

The US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan and France have been implementing the maritime aspect of the UN resolutions against North Korea since January 2018.

The countries have been keeping watch of ship-to-ship transfers at sea such as oil, coal, iron which bypass the limitations imposed by the UN.

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