Canadian warship witnesses possible violations of North Korea sanctions

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OTTAWA — The commander of a Canadian warship in the Pacific says his crew witnessed potential violations of UN sanctions against North Korea while patrolling in the East China Sea — but was under orders not to intercept any suspicious vessels.

Cmdr. Blair Saltel says his crew onboard HMCS Calgary instead took pictures and collected other information that was passed to authorities to prosecute or sanction potential violators.

HMCS Calgary is the first Canadian military vessel to deploy to the region to help enforce sanctions against North Korea in response to the country’s continued nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

The frigate is wrapping up a six-month deployment in the Asia-Pacific, during which it also participated in several multinational military exercises and visited several countries to demonstrate Canada’s presence in the region.

The experience included being shadowed by Chinese naval vessels in the South and East China Seas, an routine experience for Western military ships operating in the area thanks to tensions over competing territorial claims.

While the Chinese and some of Canada’s allies have had run-ins, particularly near disputed islands in the area, Saltel says the Calgary did not go near such areas and his Chinese shadows acted professionally.

The Canadian Press