More than 40 countries have accused North Korea of violating United Nations import restrictions on refined oil in an attempt to bolster its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
The UN Security Council has ordered all oil deliveries to stop immediately until the end of the year, according to a Reuters report on Friday.
The 15 member states of the Council have set an annual limit of 500,000 barrels of imports per year. Sanctions began in 2018 and were renewed again in 2020 with the aim of cutting fuel off North Korea and hampering its development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
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A complaint was submitted to the UN Security Council sanctions committee by 43 reported countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom and France. He alleged that 1.6 million barrels of refined oil had been imported in the first five months of this year, by 56 illegitimate shipments of tankers.
North Korean ships continue to make illicit ship-to-ship at sea deliveries “on a regular basis because the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] primary means of importing refined petroleum, ”the complaint read.
The complaint does not specify which countries they are receiving the illegal shipments from but, according to the Security Council’s monthly report, the only official shipments they received were delivered by Russia and China.
The Security Council sanctions committee has been tasked with formally investigating the number of barrels received to formally determine that the limit has been reached and to “advise member states that they must immediately stop selling, supplying or transferring oil. refined petroleum products to the DPRK for the rest. of the year, ”as reported by Reuters.
Russia and China blocked similar requests in 2018 and 2019 and were said to have been the only countries to provide official shipments of refined oil to North Korea during that time.
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“China and Russia collectively declared 106,094.17 barrels of transfers of refined petroleum products … from January to May,” the complaint reportedly said. “The DPRK’s official import accounting significantly under-represents the volume of refined petroleum products that actually enter the DPRK.”
The complaint also demanded that nations “immediately exercise heightened vigilance” to prevent the illegal transport of oil to North Korea, which has been under UN Security Council sanctions since 2006, as they continuously attempt to strengthen their nuclear weapons program.
Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun said China can be a key partner in helping to impose sanctions and prevent North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
But at a press conference on Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin rejected the call for cooperation.
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“China supports an independent foreign policy,” Wenbin said. Whether it is developing friendly cooperative relations with the DPRK or dealing with Korean Peninsula affairs and advancing the process of political settlement of the peninsula issue, China will act according to its own position and his own judgment. ”
The United Nations could not immediately be reached for comment.