New Zealand deploys patrol plane to Japan for North Korea sanctions enforcement

Reuters

New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said on Friday his government was deploying a maritime patrol aircraft to Japan to assist with efforts to enforce United Nations sanctions against North Korea.

A New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 aircraft would carry out patrols of international waters in North Asia for signs of vessels undertaking activities that break U.N. sanctions against North Korea, including ship-to-ship transfers, Peters and Defense Minister Ron Mark said in an emailed statement.

“We welcome the recent dialogue North Korea has had with the United States and South Korea. However, until such time as North Korea abides by its international obligations, full implementation of the United Nations Security Council sanctions resolutions will be essential,” Peters said.

The aircraft would be based at Kadena Air Base in Japan, he added.

The United States has been pressuring North Korea via sanctions to give up its nuclear weapons program and in August penalized two Russian shipping companies and six vessels it said were involved in the transfer of refined petroleum products to North Korean vessels in violation of U.N. restrictions.

The United States and North Korea are involved in talks intended to ease tensions between them, and U.S. President Donald Trump met with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un in June.

Since then relations have cooled and a planned visit by the top U.S. diplomat to North Korea was scrapped last week because Trump said insufficient progress toward denuclearization had been made.