China says no sanction-breaking oil sales to North Korea

Chinese and North Korean flags are seen outside the closed Ryugyong Korean Restaurant in Ningbo, China, on April 12, 2016.
Chinese and North Korean flags are seen outside the closed Ryugyong Korean Restaurant in Ningbo, China, on April 12, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China said on Thursday (Dec 28) there had been no UN sanction-breaking oil sales by Chinese ships to North Korea, after a South Korea newspaper said Chinese and North Korean vessels had been illicitly linking up at sea to get oil to North Korea.

The UN Security Council last week unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea for a recent intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test, seeking to limit its access to refined petroleum products and crude oil.

The UN resolution seeks to ban nearly 90 per cent of refined petroleum exports to North Korea by capping them at 500,000 barrels a year.

The US-drafted resolution also caps crude oil supplies to North Korea at 4 million barrels a year and commits the Council to further reductions if it were to conduct another nuclear test or launch another ICBM.

China has consistently said it is fully enforcing all resolutions against North Korea, despite suspicion in Washington, Seoul and Tokyo that loopholes still exist.

Asked at a regular briefing whether Chinese ships were illegally providing oil to North Korean ships, Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang reiterated that China, including the military, strictly enforced UN resolutions on North Korea.

"The situation you have mentioned absolutely does not exist," Ren said, without elaborating.

It's unclear whether the Chinese military has any role in sanctions enforcement.