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North Korea fuel shipments exceeded sanctions limit, U.S. says

By
Elizabeth Shim
The United States cited illicit ship-to-ship transfers of fuel to North Korean vessels as evidence of sanctions violations this week. File Photo courtesy of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
The United States cited illicit ship-to-ship transfers of fuel to North Korean vessels as evidence of sanctions violations this week. File Photo courtesy of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan

July 13 (UPI) -- The United States has submitted documents to a United Nations sanctions committee that include evidence of illegal smuggling of refined petroleum products into North Korea.

The documents delivered Thursday were accompanied by a U.S. request to suspend all exports of refined petroleum products to North Korea, South Korean newspaper Hankyoreh reported Friday.

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The rule should apply to all U.N. member states, they said.

The documents from the United States' mission to the U.N. stated North Korean ships received transfers of fuel at sea a total of 89 times from January to May.

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Under U.N. Security Council sanctions Resolution 2397, U.N. member states' fuel transfers are to not exceed an annual limit of 500,000 barrels.

U.S. documents included images of ship-to-ship transfers. The illicit transfer of fuel in North Korea could have easily exceeded the annual upper limit of 500,000 barrels, they stated.

The United States is raising the issue of illicit North Korea fuel transfers after Japan's foreign ministry disclosed evidence of North Korea ships connecting with fuel-supplying vessels a total of nine times in 2018, including most recently the AN SAN 1 in the East China Sea on June 29.

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The ships supplying North Korea have often been identified as Chinese-flagged carriers.

The U.S. request comes after Russian and Chinese data submitted to the U.N. show the two countries friendly with Pyongyang provided nearly 9,000 tons of fuel assistance in 2018.

U.S. President Donald Trump will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin next week and North Korea is likely to be on the agenda, CNBC reported Friday.

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Trump could ask for Russia's help on denuclearization, as Moscow holds significant economic influence over Pyongyang, according to the report.

Top North Korean official Ri Su Yong was seen in Moscow this week.

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