As global attention is focused on the landmark negotiations on the Korean peninsula, international forces are continuing to ensure that UN embargo’s on North Korea are enforced.
British frigate HMS Sutherland arrived in Japan a fortnight ago and has been working with American, South Korean and Japanese vessels to patrol waters around the Korean peninsula. The primary focus for policing efforts will be North Korean vessels suspected of conducting at sea transfers of banned goods in an attempt to circumvent their embargo’s on weaponry and items relating to their missile programs.
This multinational coalition is being joined this week by maritime patrol aircraft from the Royal Australian and Royal Canadian Air Forces. The surveillance aircraft will be deployed to the USAF’s Kadena Air Base on the southern island of Okinawa and it is understood that the United States will be leading operations.
Despite significant progress towards peace at the historic summit between the leaders of North and South Korea, most nations are maintaining their hard-line approach of economic and diplomatic pressure to keep North Korea on track. American officials having been working to step up interception operations with allied nations since February.
Describing the deployment of the RAAF aircraft Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said that “[Australia had] a P-8A surveillance aircraft that is going to be working in the region to monitor compliance with sanctions, and that is part of our collaboration with our partners in that exercise to enforce those UN sanctions.
What has been occurring is that sanctions have been evaded by transferring materials from ship to ship… 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.”
In a statement following the deployments the Japanese government said that it “welcomes these activities from the viewpoint of upholding the maximum pressure on North Korea while maintaining the solidarity of the international community.”
In addition to HMS Sutherland the Royal Navy has also deployed amphibious assault ship HMS Albion to the Far East, which is currently undertaking training and diplomatic visits with regional British allies including Brunei.