US accuses N. Korea of breaching UN sanctions

UNITED NATIONS • The US has accused North Korea of breaching a United Nations sanctions cap on refined petroleum by making illicit transfers between ships at sea, according to a document seen by Reuters, and demanded an immediate end to all sales of the fuel.

The US submitted the complaint to the UN Security Council North Korea sanctions committee. The charge of a sanctions breach comes as Washington engages Pyongyang in a bid to convince it to give up its nuclear weapons.

North Korea relies on imported fuel to keep its struggling economy functioning.

The US said that as of May 30, 89 North Korean tankers had brought in refined petroleum products illicitly obtained in ship-to-ship transfers this year.

The US did not broadly say which countries it believed were illicitly providing North Korea with refined petroleum. But it does mention one case of a ship-to-ship transfer involving a Russian-flagged ship and another of a Belize-flagged vessel.

The Security Council capped refined petroleum product exports to North Korea at 500,000 barrels a year in December, down from a previous limit of two million barrels.

According to the Security Council North Korea sanctions committee website, only Russia and China have reported legitimate sales of some 14,000 tons of refined petroleum to North Korea this year.

"These sales and any other transfer must immediately stop since the United States believes that (North Korea) has breached the...refined petroleum products quota for 2018," the US said in a statement.

It provided a list of the 89 North Korean tankers and a few select photos to the Security Council committee, seen by Reuters. "If fully loaded at around 90 per cent laden, the tankers have delivered nearly triple the 2018 quota at 1,367,628 barrels," it said.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 14, 2018, with the headline 'US accuses N. Korea of breaching UN sanctions'. Print Edition | Subscribe