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NKorea: No ties to tanker with suspected Libya oil

March 13, 2014

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — A tanker in Libya allegedly trying to set sail with a shipment of oil from rebel forces has nothing to do with North Korea and has had its North Korean registration revoked, an official in Pyongyang said Thursday.

Libyan government forces and loyal militia fighters claim a rival militia hoped to load the tanker with oil for export in defiance of central authorities. Because it flew a North Korean flag, that raised questions about whether North Korea was trying to get Libyan oil.

Jon Ki Chol, deputy director-general of North Korea’s Maritime Administration, told The Associated Press that although North Korea had provided a flag for the tanker Morning Glory, it canceled registration of the ship after being notified of the incident.

Jon said the ship is operated by a company based in Egypt. He said that since North Korea has canceled its registration, “the ship has nothing to do with us.”

North Korea offers its flag to foreign-owned ships in the same way as a number of other countries do.

Jon provided a document he said was the official deletion of the Morning Glory from the Maritime Administration’s registry. He also showed email correspondence he said was from IHS Maritime in London, a company that manages shipping information, that purportedly acknowledged the deletion of a vessel from the North Korean registry.

The ship was loaded with the oil at Al-Sidra, one of Libya’s biggest ports. Government forces, including navy vessels, were deployed to al-Sidra port to stop it and the country’s prosecutor general issued an arrest warrant for the captain and crew, while ordering the tanker be confiscated. On Wednesday, Libya’s Culture Minister al-Habib al-Ameen said at a news conference that the tanker had managed to escape Libyan waters.

The last time North Korea was in the news for a shipping incident was July last year, when one of its ships was stopped in Panama for transporting weaponry hidden under bags of sugar.

Update hourly