Australia keeps eye on suspicious North Korean vessels

Malcolm Turnbull
Malcolm Turnbull. Photo credit: Reuters

Australia will send a military surveillance aircraft to monitor North Korean vessels suspected of transferring prohibited goods in defiance of United Nations sanctions, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Saturday.

The announcement came a day after the leaders of North and South Korea pledged at an historic summit to work for the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

However, US President Donald Trump, who is also set to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, said he would maintain pressure on Pyongyang through sanctions that were imposed in a bid to rein in the North's missile and nuclear programmes.

Senior US officials said in February the Trump administration and key Asian allies were preparing to expand interceptions of ships suspected of violating the sanctions on North Korea. The strategy called for closer tracking of ships suspected of carrying banned weapons components and other prohibited cargo to and from North Korea.

"What has been occurring is that sanctions have been evaded by transferring materials from ship to ship, and so obviously being able to surveil, to add to the surveillance of the area enables that to be identified and then of course those who are a party to that to be held responsible and brought to account," Mr Turnbull said.

Canada is also joining the US, UK and Australia in monitoring ships.

CBS / Newshub.