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China’s refined oil exports to NK surpassed 2,000 tons in August: VOA

China sold about 2,700 tons of refined oil to North Korea in August, triple the amount it exported to the neighboring country in July, Voice of America said Wednesday, citing the UN Security Council’s North Korea sanctions committee.

The report highlighted the abrupt surge in oil shipments, saying that the volume is believed to be the largest amount tracked since October 2017, when the committee started recording such trade.

According to VOA, the total volume of refined oil exported to North Korea this year amounts to around 22,000 tons, including China’s August shipments. The Security Council has capped annual refined oil product shipments to North Korea at 500,000 barrels or 60,000 tons.
 
(US Department of Treasury)
(US Department of Treasury)

A big gap is believed to exist between data reported to the UN and the actual volume of Chinese oil exports to the North, with illegal ship-to-ship transfers of supplies with North Korean tankers taking place, it added.

The US has been making efforts to maintain global pressure on North Korea through sanctions, while engaging in negotiations with Pyongyang on giving up its nuclear program.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a UN Security Council meeting last month that the US has assessed “that the cap of 500,000 barrels has been breached this year,” calling for the international community’s support in upholding the UN sanctions.

Pompeo’s appeal met with little support from China and Russia, with both claiming that Pyongyang should be rewarded for the steps it has taken toward denuclearization this year.

Under the latest UN Security Council sanctions regarding oil sales to North Korea from December 2017, North Korea is allowed to import a maximum aggregate amount of 500,000 barrels of all refined oil products for 12 months beginning from Jan. 1, 2018. The sanctions also introduced a limit of 4 million barrels -- or 525,000 tons -- per 12-month period as of Dec. 22, 2017 for the supply, sale, or transfer of crude oil to North Korea.

Citing a confidential US report to the UN sanctions committee, Agence France-Presse reported in July that the US asked the UN Security Council to impose an immediate halt to all shipments of refined oil products to North Korea, after finding out that Pyongyang had vastly exceeded the UN-restricted quota for oil product imports.

According to the US report to the UN, North Korea received at least 759,793 barrels of oil products between January 1 and May 30, well above the 500,000-barrel annual quota. The supplies were delivered via ship-to-ship transfers with North Korean tankers that have called at ports at least 89 times, the US said.

By Jung Min-kyung (mkjung@heraldcorp.com)
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