New Delhi: US President Donald Trump has accused China of secretly selling oil to North Korea.
U.S. spy satellites have captured images of Chinese ships illegally selling oil to North Korea vessels on the West Sea 30 times in the past three months, according to a South Korean newspaper.
Ship-to-ship trades with North Korea on the high seas are forbidden under United Nations sanctions (UNSC Resolution 2375) adopted in September. The U.S. Treasury Department has already placed six North Korean shipping companies on a sanctions list on November 21.
The US has also blacklisted four Chinese companies and one Chinese individual said to have deep commercial ties with North Korea.
One satellite picture, reportedly taken on October 19, shows a ship called Rye Song Gang 1 trading oil with a Chinese vessel.
President Donald Trump tweeted that he is “very disappointed” in China for allegedly selling oil to North Korea.
The tweet comes after outlets in South Korea reported that satellites have spotted Chinese ships transferring oil to North Korean vessels. Trump said that if this practice continues, there will “never be a friendly solution to the North Korea problem.”
North Korea relies on fuel imports to keep its citizens and soldiers moving and China is by far its biggest trading partner, responsible for around 90 percent of its commerce.
According to The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates, Pyongyang imports about 10,000 barrels of crude oil a day, almost all of it from China and going to its sole functioning refinery, the Ponghwa Chemical Factory.
At a world market price of US$50 a barrel, that would be worth around US$180 million a year.
In addition, according to figures from the International Trade Centre, a joint World Trade Organization-United Nations agency, the North imported US$115 million-worth of refined oil products – which could include petrol and aircraft fuel – from China last year. Another US$1.7 million-worth came from Russia.