China Stops All Oil Exports To North Korea In Rare Move As Sanctions Take Hold

Chris White | Energy Reporter

China did not export any oil products to North Korea in November as U.S. sanctions against the isolated country continue take effect, according to a report Tuesday from Reuters.

The move comes as North Korea ratchets up ongoing nuclear and missile programs despite years of U.N. resolutions prohibiting the actions. U.N. Security Council imposed a new batch of limits of oil products earlier this month to the communist country.

China did not export any gasoline, jet fuel, diesel or fuel oil, or any other petroleum products to North Korea last month, according to the report, that relied on General Administration of Customs data for its conclusion.

“This is a natural outcome of the tightening of the various sanctions against North Korea,” said Cai Jian, an expert on North Korea at Fudan University in Shanghai. The move “reflects China’s stance,” he added.

China completely shut off the oil spigots to North Korea in 2003 for three days after Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, launched a missile into waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. China is the main source for the country’s oil, though it does receive shipments from Russia.

The data did not reveal if China still sells crude oil to Pyongyang, because Beijing has not disclosed its crude exports to North Korea for several years. Industry insiders believe China supplies 3.8 million barrels of unrefined crude to North Korea through a dilapidated pipeline connecting the countries.

Oil companies inside China are also steering clear of North Korea. China National Petroleum, for instance, put fuel sales on hold to Pyongyang because it is “no longer worth the risks,” according to various media reports from earlier this year.

Regular compliance checks to determine whether a company or firm is in violation of sanctions are increasing the pressure, especially in China, that accounts for almost 90 percent of all North Korean trade.

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