MANILA (AFP) - A North Korean vessel impounded as part of tough new sanctions in response to Pyongyang's nuclear and ballistic missile tests has been released, the Philippines said Friday (March 25).
The Jin Teng, a 6,380-tonne cargo ship, was allowed to leave Subic port, northeast of the capital Manila, where it had been held since early March under the United Nations sanctions.
"It was authorised (Thursday). We had an order to release it from the Department of Foreign Affairs," coast guard spokesman Commander Armand Balilo told AFP.
The 21 North Korean crewmen on board were also allowed to leave with the ship, he added.
The ship's impoundment was the first reported enforcement of the sanctions, the toughest ever imposed on the pariah state, which were adopted on March 2 by the UN Security Council.
Subic coastguard chief Lieutenant Commander Jonathan Marfil said the vessel left for China after being cleared by customs, immigration and port authorities.
"There was a directive from headquarters to release it (because) the UN Security Council issued an order," he told AFP.
"At the policy level, there is no more basis to continue to hold MV Jin Teng after UNSC delisted it" from a blacklist of North Korean assets frozen as part of the sanctions, Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said in a statement.
The Jin Teng, which was carrying palm kernels, arrived in the Philippines from Palembang, Indonesia, on March 3, just hours after the UN sanctions were unanimously passed.
The Philippine coastguard inspected the ship for contraband using electronic sensors but found nothing.
The UN Security Council ruled on March 21 that the Jin Teng was not subject to the asset freeze, a statement on the UN website said.