Britain sends third warship to Asia-Pacific to monitor North Korea

The UK has deployed a third navy warship to the Asia-Pacific as diplomatic tensions with North Korea continue to rise.

HMS Albion will join HMS Sutherland and will help enforce UN sanctions against North Korea, as well as take part in joint training and exercises with regional allies.

The Ministry of Defence previously announced that HMS Argyll would also be deployed, arriving in the region later in the year to take part in an exercise with Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: "Our Armed Forces are at the forefront of Global Britain, and the deployment of HMS Albion, Sutherland and Argyll demonstrates our unwavering commitment to our international responsibilities and to maintaining peace, security and prosperity in the region.

"Until North Korea matches its words with concrete actions, the UK will continue working closely with partners and allies to keep up pressure and strictly enforce existing sanctions, ensuring not only regional security but that of the UK as well."

HMS Albion, alongside HMS Sutherland, will monitor prohibited sea trading by North Korea, which the Government believes provides a major source of funding for its illegal nuclear programme.

The deployment will mean the Royal Navy will have a vessel in the Asia-Pacific region for the first time since 2013, maintaining an almost constant presence there this year.

A UN Security Council resolution bans ship-to-ship transfers of goods destined for the North Korean capital Pyeongchang, but some vessels have broken the sanction.

In October last year, a Hong Kong-registered ship was seized by South Korea after it was suspected of transferring 600 tonnes of oil to a North Korean ship.

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US president Donald Trump tweeted his disappointment at the incident, which he pinned on China.

In February, the US Treasury Department cited 50 ships for evading US and international sanctions against North Korea.

Mr Trump told reporters in the White House that if North Korea did not comply with the sanctions, that a "phase two" might be the next step.

"Phase two may be a very rough thing, may be very unfortunate for the world," he said.