CLAIM: Recon satellites catch China redhanded selling oil to N. Korea

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New images from American reconnaissance satellites show Chinese ships selling oil to North Korean vessels about 30 times since October.

The U.S. Treasury published the surveillance photographs taken on October 19 of the North Korean vessel Rye Song Gang 1 anchored next to a large Chinese vessel in deep waters, apparently attaching hoses for the transferring of oil.

South Korean officials confirmed ships were allegedly trading in the West Sea between China and South Korea in order to circumvent the United Nations sanctions on oil exports to the regime of Kim Jong-un.

“We need to focus on the fact that the illicit trade started after a UN Security Council resolution in September drastically capped North Korea’s imports of refined petroleum products,” an unnamed source from the South Korean government told a local newspaper.

Ship-to-ship trading with North Korea on the high seas is forbidden under the UN sanctions, but the act is very hard to patrol without an aggressive Chinese crackdown on smuggling. Under the current sanctions, Pyongyang is only allowed 500,000 barrels of oil imports a year.

“There is a lot of under-the-radar on the Chinese side. Beijing does not police the border strictly or enforce the sanctions toughly. This could be that,” said Robert Kelly, professor of political science at South Korea’s Pusan National University.

Surprisingly, Chinese customs data released on Tuesday indicated that Beijing exported no oil products to North Korea in November.

“As a principle, China has consistently fully, correctly, conscientiously and strictly enforced relevant UN Security Council resolutions on North Korea,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, who claimed to not have any knowledge of the exposed oil products export situation.

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