After Trump criticism, China says no illicit oil sales to North Korea

After Trump criticism, China says no illicit oil sales to North Korea

The transfers in October and November indicate that smuggling from Russian Federation to North Korea has evolved to loading cargoes at sea since Reuters reported in September that North Korean ships were sailing directly from Russian Federation to their homeland.

Reuters is reporting Western European security sources saying Russian vessels are selling oil products to North Korea via ship-to-ship transfers.

The U.N. sanctions allow limited supplies of oil but prohibit transfers of any goods to North Korean vessels at sea.

It allegedly transferred 600 tons of oil, part of what the newspaper Chosun Ilbo reported was a trend of Chinese ships transferring oil 30 times since October.

South Korean authorities boarded the tanker and interviewed its crew members for allegedly violating United Nations sanctions by transferring oil to a North Korean vessel in October, an official said Friday.

A second source, who independently confirmed the existence of the Russian ship-to-ship fuel trade with North Korea, said there was no evidence of Russian state involvement in the latest transfers.

Both ships were among 10 vessels that the United States had proposed that the UN Security Council should blacklist for transporting banned items from North Korea, documents seen by Reuters this month showed.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry also dismissed the charges on Friday, blaming "hyped-up media reports".

But in response to a separate question about Trump's Twitter comments, Hua said, "the relevant ship, since August, has never docked at Chinese ports, and there is no record showing it has left or entered Chinese ports".




Taiwan's presidential office said the firm was not incorporated in Taiwan and China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said she did not have any information about the matter.

Of those ships, three were listed earlier this month as Hong Kong-owned and two as mainland-China-owned, sailing under flags of convenience.

She urged other countries to sever "all ties" with North Korea, including ceasing trade and expelling North Korean workers.

"When I campaigned, I was very tough on China in terms of trade".

Prior to that, it was active between India and the United Arab Emirates.

The confrontation, playing out in jockeying at the United Nations, comes amid an escalating war of words between President Donald Trump and Beijing over China's willingness to tightly enforce sanctions following Pyongyang's nuclear and long-range missile tests. But motive of the transaction with North Korea is not known, the officials noted. North Korea relies on China for almost all of its energy supplies, and China accounts for more than 90 percent of North Korea's total trade volume.

North Korea came under heavy sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council as it accelerated efforts to expand its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles program.

According to the European security sources, the Vityaz conducted a ship-to-ship transfer with the North Korean Flagged Sam Ma 2 tanker in open seas during October.

"It's unclear how much oil the ship had transferred to North Korea for how long and on how many occasions, but it clearly showed North Korea is engaged in evading the sanctions", the official told Reuters.

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