Trump Warns Against Illicit Chinese Oil Sales to North Korea

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump warned that illicit Chinese oil sales to North Korea may jeopardize a “friendly solution” to the confrontation over North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s nuclear weapons and missile programs.

“Caught RED HANDED - very disappointed that China is allowing oil to go into North Korea. There will never be a friendly solution to the North Korea problem if this continues to happen!” Trump said on Twitter Thursday while at his golf club in West Palm Beach, Florida.

The Chosun Ilbo, a South Korean newspaper, reported Dec. 26 that U.S. spy satellites had observed Chinese vessels allegedly transferring oil to North Korean ships in the sea between the two countries about 30 times since October, citing unidentified South Korea government officials. Fox News summarized the Korean paper’s report on Wednesday.

The U.S. in September sought to persuade the UN Security Council to pass a resolution banning oil exports to North Korea. That provision was dropped in the final document, which established limits on exports of petroleum products such as diesel but didn’t cut off crude sales. China supplies most of North Korea’s estimated 10,000 barrels a day of crude oil, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Last week, the Security Council unanimously approved tighter sanctions on North Korea, including measures to slash imports of refined petroleum products by almost 90 percent from January, as well as further restrict shipping and imposing a 24-month deadline for expatriate North Korean workers to be sent home. Oil deliveries via a pipeline with China are allowed to continue under the restrictions.

North Korea on Sunday described the UN move as an “act of war” and vowed to take revenge on the U.S. and other Security Council members.

The latest tensions come just six weeks before the start of the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) from the North Korean border.

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.