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Russia is blocking the release of a report finding that North Korea has been violating UN sanctions on oil product imports, because Moscow disagrees “on certain elements of the report,” Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told reporters on Thursday, after the UN Security Council met behind closed doors to discuss the report by independent experts.
Although the Russian representative did not specify his country’s reasons for the objections, diplomats told The Associated Press said that Moscow’s main disagreement was the report mentioning Russian ships being involved in illegal ship-to-ship transfers.
In early August, news organizations including the AP and Reuters reported the findings of the confidential report, in which the experts wrote that North Korea “has not stopped its nuclear and missile programs and continued to defy Security Council resolutions through a massive increase in illicit ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products, as well as through transfers of coal at sea during 2018.”
Karen Pierce, Britain’s UN Ambassador and current Security Council president, told the AP on Thursday that the council would hold informal discussions on Friday to see what exactly Russia objects to, hoping to finalize and release the report.
“It’s an interesting question as to whether you should be objecting to an independent report. But, as I say, the council hopes we can resolve this,” the AP quoted Pierce as saying.
While most of the sanction-bypassing oil trade with North Korea is thought to be originating from China, oil sales from Russia to Kim Jong-un’s regime may be much larger than official figures suggest, as shell companies have been set up for illicit oil flows to Pyongyang, The Asan Institute for Policy Studies said in a recent report.
Last week, the U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions on Russia-based shipping companies Primorye Maritime Logistics and Gudzon Shipping, as well as on six vessels and on persons involved in the ship-to-ship transfer of refined petroleum products with North Korea-flagged vessels, an activity expressly prohibited by the UN Security Council (UNSC).
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.