U.N. Security Council lifts North Korea sanctions on five ships

By Michelle Nichols UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations Security Council said on Saturday it had lifted sanctions on five ships that were blacklisted in March for ties to North Korea's arms trade. The ships were among 31 vessels sanctioned by the 15-member council on March 2 because they were linked to Ocean Maritime Management (OMM), a North Korean shipping firm known to transport arms and other illicit goods for the secretive state. The 15-member Security Council sanctions committee for North Korea decided the five vessels "are not economic resources controlled or operated by Ocean Maritime Management Company, Limited and therefore not subject to the asset freeze." The ships removed from the blacklist are Dawnlight, Every Bright, Gold Star 3, Orion Star and South Hill 5. The Security Council listed the vessels as part of sweeping sanctions adopted in March, following North Korea's fourth nuclear test in January. Just a few weeks later the council removed four ships from the list at China's request. The Security Council imposed new sanctions on North Korea last month that aim to cut the Asian state's annual export revenue by more than a quarter in response to Pyongyang's fifth and largest nuclear test in September. (Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Chris Reese)