The U.S. is “convening a multinational coalition” to expand the surveillance of ships that may be bringing fuel into North Korea against U.N. sanctions, U.S. military officials told the Wall Street Journal. U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, South Korea and France will join the U.S. and contribute men, warships, military surveillance aircraft, and share intelligence within the new coalition. The operations will reportedly take place in the newly-created Enforcement Coordination Center, located in command ship USS Blue Ridge in Yokosuka, Japan. The coalition will reportedly allow more “bridge-to-bridge” communications between coalition ships and suspected smugglers about sanctions and enforcement. The U.N. has capped North Korea's refined petroleum imports to 500,000 barrels a year, but U.S. intelligence is reportedly aware that the country exceeded that cap in the first five months of 2018. U.S. officials also told the newspaper that Russian or Chinese ships are the two main high-seas transfer conduits of black market fuel to North Korea, an important substance that is important for the North Korean military and is a “critical lubricant” for the country's economy.
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