Dutch Authorities Confiscate 90,000 Bottles Of Vodka Intended For Kim Jong Un

Just hours after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in Vietnam for his second historic summit with President Trump, Dutch authorities acting on a tip from the Russian Foreign Ministry seized 90,000 bottles of vodka that authorities believe was destined for North Korea, where Kim was planning to distribute them as gifts to his top military commanders.

That would have made for one hell of a party in the DPRK, a country where roughly half of the country's 25 million people struggle with chronic food insecurity and access to basic life-saving services like health care, water and sanitation. Roughly one-fifth of all children in North Korea are malnourished.

Vodka

According to the Telegraph, the discovery of the vodka followed a determination - made by Russian authorities - that a Russian ship had been involved with several illicit transfers of oil to North Korean ships in a ship-to-ship clandestine transfer that violated UN sanctions, something the US has vowed to disrupt.

The confiscation was followed by findings that a Russian tanker secretly transferred fuel to a North Korean ship at sea at least four times in 2017 and 2018, which would violate international sanctions over Pyongyang's nuclear missile programme.

Two crew members told Reuters that the ship left Vladivostok ostensibly for China, but instead met up with the North Korean tanker Chon Moyng-1 at night while it was not transmitting its position.

The Telegraph also reported that the Russian Foreign Minister said the US had asked for Russia's advice about how to approach the summit.

News of these attempts to skirt the sanctions came ahead of a summit in Vietnam's capital Hanoi on Wednesday between Kim and Donald Trump, the US president.

The Russian foreign minister said during his own visit to Hanoi on Monday that the US had asked Russia's advice on how to approach the summit. Moscow has recommended Washington offer security guarantees to Pyongyang in exchange for disarmament steps.

The United Nations has capped petroleum exports to North Korea and banned luxury good exports entirely, but Kim  frequently tries to circumvent these measures.

Last year, the UN listed the Chon Moyng-1 as having disobeyed sanctions with ship-to-ship fuel transfers.

Previous seizures have included champagne, cheese and televisions bound for North Korea. The vodka cases found on Friday were hidden under an aircraft fuselage.

Trump has been largely silent on the North Korean's continued violation of UN sanctions with their ship-to-ship oil transfers, though the US military - aided by a coalition of willing partners - has taken steps to crack down on these illicit shipments.

But the timing of the report, which comes just before the start of the Trump-Kim summit, is certainly interesting, considering Russia's involvement.

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