The Dutch customs announced on Tuesday that it had seized, at the port of Rotterdam 90,000 bottles of Russian vodka bound for North Korea, which is under international sanctions. The announcement came as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived on Tuesday in Vietnam for a second summit with U.S. President Donald Trump focussing on the denuclearisation of North Korea.
The vodka was meant for Kim and his military chiefs, the popular Dutch daily, Algemeen Dagblad (AD) reported. The Dutch customs retweeted the AD story but told AFP it could not confirm that information. “It’s vodka bound for North Korea,” Dutch customs spokesman Roul Velleman told AFP. “That information was reason enough for us to act.”
The alcohol was found in a container on board a ship of the Chinese company, Cosco Shipping, that arrived on Thursday evening in Rotterdam. The container, which was hidden under the hull of a plane, was seized on Friday on the order of the Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, the ministry’s spokesman, Jeroen van Dommelen, told AFP.
Recalling that the UN Security Council had imposed “clear sanctions” on North Korea because of its nuclear, ballistic weapons programme, the ministry said it was important to maintain them.
The Dutch customs officers said they had received “information from many sources” that the vodka, which had been onloaded in the German port of Hamburg, was destined for North Korea, but declined to reveal their sources.
“It’s an incredible story; it’s the type of story you find in suspense novels,” commented Velleman, who added that it had not yet been decided whether the vodka, which has been stocked in a Rotterdam quay, will be destroyed or auctioned.