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North Korea should not be totally cut off from oil product supplies because Pyongyang would see such a move as a declaration of war, Russia’s ambassador to North Korea, Alexander Matsegora, said in an interview with Russian news agency RIA Novosti on Wednesday.
North Korea has severe shortages of gas and diesel, and this situation could lead to serious problems, including a humanitarian crisis. Cutting off all supplies would mean a total blockade, and this would be seen by North Korea as a declaration of war, Matsegora told the Russian news agency.
At the end of December, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution that further tightened the measures regarding the supply, sale, or transfer of all refined petroleum products to North Korea, reducing the limit to 500,000 barrels for 12 months beginning January 1, 2018. The resolution also introduced a limit of 4 million barrels, or 525,000 tons, that were allowed for the supply, sale or transfer of crude oil to North Korea for the 12-month period starting December 22, 2017.
According to the quotas in the latest UNSC resolution, some 540,000 tons of crude oil from China and just over 60,000 tons of oil products from Russia, China, and other countries can be supplied to North Korea per year, Matsegora told RIA Novosti. A total of 60,000 tons of oil products per year for a country with a population of 25 million people is a drop in the ocean, and there is no room for further reduction, RIA Novosti quoted the diplomat as saying.
The United States has been trying to persuade Russia and China to do more to cut oil supplies to North Korea in order to rein in Kim Jong Un’s nuclear weapons program.
Chinese vessels have been caught illicitly selling oil to North Korea in violation of UN sanctions.
Related: First Ever Russian LNG Cargo Arrives In The U.S.
Last week the U.S. Treasury sanctioned more entities and individuals, as well as six vessels.
“Pursuant to UN Security Council Resolutions, the U.S. government is targeting illicit actors in China, Russia, and elsewhere who are working on behalf of North Korean financial networks, and calling for their expulsion from the territories where they reside. We are sanctioning additional oil, shipping, and trading companies that continue to provide a lifeline to North Korea to fuel this regime’s nuclear ambitions and destabilizing activities,” Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin said.
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.