North Korea Bypasses Sanctions With Illicit Oil, Coal Transfers

(Bloomberg) -- North Korea successfully evaded sanctions to import as much as seven-and-a-half times the allowed amount of refined petroleum last year, according to the U.S. government.

Its ports received at least 263 tanker deliveries of refined petroleum through ship-to-ship transfers, according to an update from the State Department, Coast Guard and Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. If the tankers were fully laden at the time, North Korea would have imported 3.78 million barrels of fuel.

In addition to the refined products imports, the country has also resumed exports of coal through ship-to-ship transfers in the Gulf of Tonkin, the update said.

The enforcement of sanctions is a key aspect of President Donald Trump’s effort to get Pyongyang to eliminate its nuclear program. The UN Security Council imposed sanctions, including bans on exports of iron, coal, lead, seafood and textiles as well as some oil-import restrictions in response to missile launches and nuclear weapons tests by North Korea in 2017.

Separately, a North Korean news site blasted South Korea’s ministry dedicated to bringing the two Koreas together for working with the U.S. on sanctions enforcement. Uriminzokkiri, a North Korean-operated website, on Friday called South Korea’s Unification Ministry “cowardly” and said it should “throw its 2019 guidelines in the garbage can” for accommodating the U.S. policy.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.