Washington: The United States on Wednesday accused North Korea of violating a UN-imposed ceiling on fuel imports by conducting dozens of ship-to-ship transfers at sea that broke international sanctions.
CNN reported that Washington in a report submitted to the United Nations Security Council Sanctions Committee on North Korea also urged more than a dozen other countries to immediately halt fuel shipments to North Korea.
The accusations came a day after President Donald Trump said that he received another ‘beautiful letter’ from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the first since the February summit in Hanoi ended abruptly between the two leaders without finalizing a deal.
An administration official described the letter as a “birthday greeting.” Trump’s birthday is on Friday and the official says Kim wished the President good health.
The letter also rekindled new hopes on the possibility of future talks between Trump and Kim after the US President last month declared North Korea was “not ready to negotiate” after months of stalled diplomacy.
Meanwhile, the UN report said Pyongyang has already exceeded the allowed annual cap of importing 500,000 barrels of fuel this year.
Quoting a UN diplomat, familiar with the case, CNN reported that at least eight illegal ship to ship transfers have occurred involving North Korean flagged tankers. The diplomat said there were 72 cases of violations which were also being tracked.
The diplomat gave North Korea an “F” grade regarding the implementation of the sanctions cap on fuel import.
The diplomat added, “Not only is DPRK [North Korea] circumventing the petroleum ban it has systematically circumvented it all last year and is systematically circumventing it this year and, unstopped, it will have basically achieved the same amount of refined petroleum smuggled into North Korea as it did last year.”
Under the UN sanctions rules, countries are required to report monthly sales of petroleum refined products to the committee.
It was reported by the sanctions committee panel of experts that there was a “massive increase in the illegal ship to ship transfers of petroleum products and coal”. However, attempts by Washington to take action were blocked by Russia and China.