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RNZAF completes North Korea sanctions enforcement deployment

New Zealand Defence Force personnel working as part of international sanctions enforcement against North Korea have detected and reported illicit ship-to-ship transfers and vessels of interest.

18 June, 2021

In April the Government committed a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion maritime patrol aircraft in support of United Nations Security Council sanctions against North Korea.

The sanctions are intended to persuade North Korea to denuclearise and abandon its ballistic missile capabilities. The recent deployment followed previous deployments in October 2020, October 2019 and September 2018.

During patrols, aircrew on the P-3K2 locate vessels of interest with the aim of detecting sanctions violations through illicit ship-to-ship transfers of restricted goods such as oil, coal and iron ore.

Commander Joint Forces New Zealand Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour said the surveillance patrols, which were part of co-ordinated sanctions enforcement efforts with international military partners, had been successfully completed.

“Our crews successfully located vessels of interest and observed potential illicit activity. Missions such as these demonstrate New Zealand’s commitment to supporting and upholding the rules-based international order,” he said.

Air Component Commander Air Commodore Shaun Sexton said the patrols were flown over international waters in North Asia.

“Our P-3K2 aircraft, and the personnel that operate and support them, are extremely well suited to this mission. Air Force people welcome the opportunity to make an important contribution to sanctions monitoring by providing information on potential breaches that can be used by the international community.”

The aircraft was based at Kadena Air Base in Japan during the deployment.  

Personnel undertook COVID-19 quarantine requirements in Japan and on their return to New Zealand.