Three months after a Reuters investigation discovered oil tankers bound for Chinese and South Korean ports from Russia were apparently selling their stores to North Korea, a new report indicates Chinese ships have been caught doing something similar. According to the South Korean news agency The Chosun Ilbo, spy satellites operated by United States intelligence agencies have spotted Chinese and North Korea ships rendezvousing in the West Sea near China’s coast. Government sources indicate the ships are “illegally trading in oil” during these oceanic meetups.
Per The Chosun Ilbo‘s report:
The satellite pictures even show the names of the ships. A government source said, “We need to focus on the fact that the illicit trade started after a UN Security Council resolution in September drastically capped North Korea’s imports of refined petroleum products.”
The U.N. sanctions in question, which were spearheaded by the United States over the summer and into the fall, stem from U.N. Security Council Resolution 2375. According to Axios, the resolution was “passed in September after yet another nuclear test by Kim Jong-Un” with the intent of “[prohibiting] ship-to-ship transfers of certain goods, including oil, to North Korea.” Why? Because of the controversial nation’s continued attempts to bolster its nuclear energy and weapons programs despite protestations from U.N. members. As Axios’ Bill Bishop explains it:
“If the Chinese government ignores oil smuggling the sanctions will be less effective. And if the Trump Administration views Beijing as not faithfully implementing what it agreed to then new sanctions against more Chinese individuals and firms, including a major oil company and a large financial institution, are increasingly likely.”
No word yet on whether or not President Trump will unleash yet another “Rocket Man” insult upon Kim Jong-Un before the day’s out.