Royal Navy warship defending HMS Queen Elizabeth spots ships breaking UN sanctions on North Korea

A ROYAL Navy warship guarding HMS Queen Elizabeth in the Pacific has gathered damning evidence of ships breaching United Nations sanctions targeting North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme.

Monday, 27th September 2021, 1:15 pm

HMS Richmond tracked ships apparently breaching UN blockades placed on North Korea in 2017, banning the supply of fuel or refined petroleum products to the secretive state.

Detaching from HMS Queen Elizabeth, Richmond spent time in the East China Sea where she captured evidence of the alleged breaches – evidence which has now been handed over to the UN’s enforcement coordination cell.

The operations, which were conducted and completed earlier this month, are the first occasion since 2019 that a Royal Navy ship has supported UN sanctions monitoring and enforcement programme.

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HMS Richmond pictured at sea. Photo: Royal Navy/LPhot Ken Gaunt

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Defence secretary, Ben Wallace said: ‘HMS Richmond’s deployment in the East China Sea identified ships acting in suspected breach of UN sanctions and tracked vessels which had previously not been flagged to the enforcement co-ordination cell.

‘North Korea’s ambitions to acquire weapons of mass destruction destabilises the region and poses a threat to the world. This vital activity, part of the carrier strike group deployment to the region, has frustrated those ambitions.

Commander Hugh Botterill, HMS Richmond’s captain, said the mission was a ‘critical moment’ in the carrier task group’s mission to the Far East.

He added: ‘HMS Richmond is proud to have participated in the effort to curtail Democratic Republic of Korea’s weapons of mass destruction programmes, reporting on vessels of interest and providing valuable imagery and contact data.

‘My team located multiple ships of various nationalities apparently acting in contravention of United Nations Security Council sanctions, and located, tracked and approached a number of ships that hadn’t previously been identified to the enforcement coordination cell.’

Over the last month, the carrier strike group has carried out a series of drills with the Japanese, United States and Republic of Korea.

Earlier this month, two of the navy’s newest warships – HMS Spey and HMS Tamar – were despatched to the Indo-Pacific region on a long-term mission to the Far East.

Devonport-based HMS Richmond is currently alongside in Japan undertaking a planned routine maintenance programme before resuming operations HMS Queen Elizabeth.

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