United Nations blacklists shipping firms over aide in North Korean maritime smuggling

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The move increases pressure on the North ahead of planned summit meetings between its leader, Kim Jong Un, and the presidents of South Korea and the United States.

The Security Council on Friday convened an emergency session at Kuwait's request after 15 Palestinians were martyred by the Israeli army during a peaceful protest in the Gaza Strip.

Several Chinese shipping companies and a Taiwanese man were also implicated.

The United Nations Security Council has announced new measures against North Korea, blacklisting 27 ships, 21 shipping companies and one individual accused of helping the North evade previous sanctions.

The council's North Korea sanctions committee acted on a request by the USA, designating 21 shipping companies - including five based in China - 15 North Korean ships, 12 non-North Korean ships and Taiwanese Tsang Yung-yuan (張永源).

It comes despite planned summits this spring between the US and South Korean leaders with North Korea's Kim Jong Un.

Trump later said he anticipates "tremendous success" in the meeting.

Friday's measures were proposed by the U.S. last month as part of a crackdown on the maritime smuggling of North Korean commodities such as oil and coal.

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However, the situation has eased significantly since North Korea in February sent athletes to the Winter Olympics in South Korea.

USA ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said the UN sanctions designations - the largest agreed by the council's committee - were aimed at shutting down North Korea's illegal smuggling activities to obtain oil and sell coal.

The United Nations dropped the hammer Friday on companies and persons helping North Korea skirt tough global sanctions meant to punish it for its illegal weapons testing.

This list contains part of the request of Washington. China postponed the decision on March 2 without giving a reason, and the 15-member committee worked with consensus.

The US then proposed a short list, which was unanimously approved by the Committee on Friday.

The action bans global port entry for 13 North Korean oil tankers and cargo vessels, and 12 other ships suspected of helping North Korea smuggle oil and banned commodities. The move will ban blacklisted ships from ports around the world and freeze the assets of the companies and individuals punished by the sanctions package.

The 21 shipping and trading firms are also subject to a freeze of assets.

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