The United States and more than two dozen other countries are asking all nations to immediately halt valuable fuel shipments to North Korea.
A report submitted to the United Nations Security Council Sanctions Committee on North Korea accuses Pyongyang of violating a UN-set UN set cap on fuel imports by conducting dozens of ship-to-ship transfers at sea, which break international sanctions. The details in the report were described to CNN and others by a UN Security Council diplomat with knowledge of the findings.
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The US complaint about North Korean smuggling came a day after President Donald Trump said he got another ‘beautiful letter’ from North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un. The White House is interested in a third summit between the two leaders.
They said the allowed annual cap of 500,000 barrels of fuel imports has been exceeded by North Korea. The report, according to the diplomat, said at least eight illegal ship to ship transfers have occurred involving North Korean flagged tankers. The diplomat said there were 72 cases of violations also being tracked.
The diplomat gave North Korea an “F” grade regarding implementation of the sanctions fuel import cap.
The diplomat added, “Not only is DPRK circumventing the petroleum ban it has systematically circumvented it all last year and is systematically circumventing it this year and, unstopped, it will have basically achieved the same amount of refined petroleum smuggled into North Korea as it did last year.”
The US compiled the report, but joined with 26 other countries in asking the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee on North Korea to determine that the fuel cap was broken, and request that all UN countries should then stop any future transfers of petroleum to North Korea.
The issue of illegal ship-to-ship transfers on the high seas is not new.
It was reported by the sanctions committee panel of experts, citing ‘a massive increase in illegal ship to ship transfers of petroleum products and coal.” However, attempts by Washington to take action were blocked by Russia and China.
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The diplomat said he believes China and Russia may be more open now, because the US moved early to brief Moscow and Beijing with more evidence and acted in a “more cooperative tone.” The US is not saying it wants more sanctions on North Korea but believes it’s important to stop these illegal fuel shipments so they don’t happen again.
The diplomat said bans on coal and iron ore shipment are working well.
Under sanctions rules, countries are required to report monthly sales of petroleum refined products to the committee. In the past former US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley accused Russia of cheating, which Moscow denied.