US accuses North Korea of illegally smuggling oil products

Washington claims Pyongyang violated restrictions and asks UN to halt all deliveries of oil products to North Korea.

    US accuses North Korea of illegally smuggling oil products
    The UN Security Council has capped refined petroleum product exports to North Korea at 500,000 barrels a year [File: AFP]

    The United States has asked the United Nations Security Council to order an immediate halt to all deliveries of refined oil products to North Korea after finding that Pyongyang had violated restrictions on those imports.

    A confidential US report sent to UN Security Council and seen by AFP news agency, estimated that at least 759,793 barrels of oil products had been delivered to North Korea between January 1 and May 30, well above the annual quota set at 500,000 barrels.

    The illegal supplies were provided through ship-to-ship transfers at sea using North Korean tankers that have called in port at least 89 times "likely to deliver" the shipments, according to the report.

    Washington requested in a letter that the UN sanctions committee declare that North Korea had violated the UN-approved quota and "order an immediate halt to all transfers of refined petroleum products" to North Korea.

    The committee is expected to take five days to consider the request, which China and Russia are expected to block. In the report, the US pointed the finger at China and Russia for continuing to sell refined petroleum products to North Korea.

    In December the 15-member Security Council capped refined petroleum product exports to North Korea at 500,000 barrels a year.

    "These sales and any other transfer must immediately stop since the United States believes [North Korea] has breached the ... refined petroleum products quota for 2018," it said.

    The US move at the United Nations came just days after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo travelled to Pyongyang to press for concrete steps by Kim Jong-un's regime to scrap its nuclear programme.

    While Pompeo said those talks were making progress, North Korea angrily accused Washington of making "gangster-like" demands for a rapid denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.

    Pompeo insisted that a raft of tough economic sanctions imposed on North Korea would remain in place until "final, fully verified denuclearisation" occurs.

    SOURCE: News agencies


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