China Denies Ship to Ship Oil Transfers to North Korean Despite Satellite Images

China Denies Ship to Ship Oil Transfers to North Korean Despite Satellite Images
The Treasury Office released satellite images taken on October 19, 2017, depicting the tanker Rye Song Gang 1 conducting a ship-to-ship transfer.

BEIJING – China’s foreign ministry has gone on the defensive saying  its enforcement of U.N. sanctions against North Korea following reports Chinese ships improperly transferred oil to North Korean vessels at sea.

A ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said Wednesday she had no information about the latest report. But she said China has “completely and strictly” enforced trade restrictions aimed at discouraging North Korea from developing nuclear and missile technology.

The South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo cited unidentified officials this week as saying Chinese ships transferred oil to North Korean vessels some 30 times since October.

U.S. surveillance satellites detected the seaborne transfers on the West Sea in a location closer to China than South Korea. The satellites picked up the names of the ships.

Hua questioned whether any country could make sure “not a single breach will happen.” She said, “the Chinese government has been completely and strictly enforcing Security Council resolutions. We are taking a sincere and serious attitude and forceful and effective actions.”

The U.S. Treasury Office released images taken on October 19, 2017, depicting a reported attempt by Korea Kumbyol Trading Company’s vessel Rye Song Gang 1 to conduct a ship-to-ship transfer, possibly of oil, in an effort to evade sanctions. U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control

On November 21, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control issued additional sanctions that included 20 vessels, all of which are DPRK-flagged.

The Treasury Office released images (above) taken on October 19, 2017, depicting the tanker Rye Song Gang 1 conducting a ship-to-ship transfer, possibly of oil, in an effort to circumvent UN resolution 2375, which as of Sept. 11, 2017, prohibits ship-to-ship transfers.

Chinese customs data, in contrast to the satellite images, reported that China exported no oil products to North Korea in November after the U.N. Security Council imposed new caps, including limiting oil product shipments to just 500,000 barrels a year.

It is unknown whether China still sells crude oil to Pyongyang. Beijing has not disclosed its crude exports to North Korea for several years.

Industry sources say China still supplies about 520,000 tonnes, or 3.8 million barrels, of crude a year to North Korea via an aging pipeline. That is a little more than 10,000 barrels a day, and worth about $200 million a year at current prices.

North Korea also sources some of its oil from Russia.

 

Source:  The National Post,  The Associated Press

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