Exclusive: More than 40 international locations accuse North Korea of breaching U.N. sanctions

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FILE PHOTO – A North Korean flag flies on a mast on the Permanent Mission of North Korea in Geneva

By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) – More than 40 international locations accused North Korea on Friday of illicitly breaching a United Nations cap on refined petroleum imports and known as for a direct halt to deliveries till the top of the 12 months, based on a criticism seen by Reuters.

The 15-member U.N. Security Council imposed an annual cap of 500,000 barrels in December 2017 in a bid to chop off gasoline for North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile packages.

But in a criticism to the U.N. Security Council North Korea sanctions committee, 43 international locations – together with the United States, Britain and France – mentioned they estimated that within the first 5 months of this 12 months Pyongyang had imported greater than 1.6 million barrels of refined petroleum through 56 illicit tanker deliveries.

The criticism mentioned North Korean vessels proceed to conduct ship-to-ship transfers at sea “on a regular basis as the DPRK’s primary means of importing refined petroleum.” North Korea’s formal title is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The international locations requested the Security Council sanctions committee to make an official willpower that North Korea had exceeded the cap and “inform member states that they must immediately cease selling, supplying, or transferring refined petroleum products to the DPRK for the remainder of the year.”

Similar requests to the committee in 2018 and 2019 had been blocked by North Korean allies Russia and China. They are additionally the one two international locations to have formally reported deliveries of refined petroleum to the Security Council sanctions committee.

“China and Russia collectively have reported 106,094.17 barrels of refined petroleum product transfers … January through May,” the criticism mentioned. “The official accounting of the DPRK’s imports vastly underrepresents the volume of refined petroleum products that actually enter the DPRK.”

The 43 international locations additionally urged the committee to name on states to “immediately exercise enhanced vigilance regarding the DPRK attempting to procure additional refined petroleum products and to prevent illicit ship-to-ship transfers of refined petroleum products to vessels owned, controlled, or acting on behalf of or working in cooperation with the DPRK.”

North Korea has been subjected to U.N. sanctions since 2006 over its nuclear and ballistic missile packages. While the Security Council has steadily strengthened sanctions, U.N. screens reported this 12 months that North Korea continued to boost its packages final 12 months.

North Korean chief Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump have met 3 times since 2018, however didn’t make progress on U.S. requires Pyongyang to surrender its nuclear weapons and North Korea’s calls for for an finish to sanctions.

The criticism to the Security Council committee mentioned: “If the DPRK is able to flagrantly evade international sanctions, it will have little incentive to engage in serious negotiations.”

The North Korean mission to the United Nations in New York didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by David Gregorio)