December 28, 2017 / 9:31 AM / a year ago

China says no sanction-breaking oil sales to North Korea

BEIJING (Reuters) - China said on Thursday there had been no U.N. sanction-breaking oil sales by Chinese ships to North Korea, after a South Korea newspaper said Chinese and North Korean vessels had been illicitly linking up at sea to get oil to North Korea.

The U.N. Security Council last week unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea for a recent intercontinental ballistic missile test, seeking to limit its access to refined petroleum products and crude oil.

The U.N. resolution seeks to ban nearly 90 percent of refined petroleum exports to North Korea by capping them at 500,000 barrels a year.

The U.S.-drafted resolution also caps crude oil supplies to North Korea at 4 million barrels a year and commits the Council to further reductions if it were to conduct another nuclear test or launch another ICBM.

China has consistently said it is fully enforcing all resolutions against North Korea, despite suspicion in Washington, Seoul and Tokyo that loopholes still exist.

Asked at a regular briefing whether Chinese ships were illegally providing oil to North Korean ships, Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang reiterated that China, including the military, strictly enforced U.N. resolutions on North Korea. 

“The situation you have mentioned absolutely does not exist,” Ren said, without elaborating.

It’s unclear whether the Chinese military has any role in sanctions enforcement.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel

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