China, Russia delay US request over North Korea

26 July 2018, Week 29, Issue 703

Russia and China have put a six-month hold on a US request to the UN Security Council (UNSC) for a halt on all oil product deliveries to North Korea.

The two countries told the council that they needed more time to consider the US’ request, AFP reported last week citing diplomats. Russia and China have also said they need longer to review Washington’s allegations that North Korea was busting sanctions.

The US has asked a UN sanctions committee to ban all fuel shipments, claiming that North Korea has exceeded imposed limits on deliveries. Washington has claimed that North Korea secured almost 760,000 barrels of oil products through ship-to-ship transfers at sea, AFP said. North Korean tankers have reportedly obtained clandestine oil cargoes in international waters, by using ships that prevent detection of their activities by switching off their satellite tracking systems, it added.

The East Asian country is allowed to import up to 500,000 barrels per year of oil products and 4 million barrels per year of crude oil.

While China supplies almost all of North Korea’s oil needs, Beijing denied speculation this week that it had secretly delivered more oil than was allowed under sanctions. The Foreign Ministry said on July 24 that Beijing was fully implementing the UN Security Council’s resolutions and that it had exported around 7,400 tonnes of refined oil to North Korea in the first half of this year, Yonhap reported.

In December 2017, Reuters cited unnamed security sources as saying that Russian tankers had breached sanctions by supplying fuel to North Korea on at least three occasions via ship-to-ship transfers. Similar reports emerged in January of Chinese-owned vessels regularly delivering oil to North Korea in contravention of the ban.

In September 2017, the US proposed imposing a full oil embargo on North Korea after it tested its sixth and most powerful nuclear bomb. Beijing has said it wants North Korea to retire its nuclear arms, but is also keen to maintain harmony along its shared border so as to sustain both commercial ties and avoid the onset of military conflict.

“Russia is closely examining this request and is seeking additional information on every single case of ‘illegal’ transfer of petroleum to [North Korea]” being claimed by the US, AFP quoted an email from the Russian mission to the UN Security Council as saying last week.

“We also request the US side to provide additional factual information to facilitate all states to study and make judgment,” it quoted the Chinese mission as saying.

Edited by

Andrew Kemp

Editor

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