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U.S. Targets Oil Tankers Violating North Korean Sanctions

Tanker

New sanctions from the White House target tankers that were revealed to be delivering oil products from Russia to North Korea, violating international sanctions against the latter state for its nuclear weapons program and human rights abuses, according to a new report by Reuters.

Reuters had discovered eight vessels, including the now sanctioned Kum Un San, as perpetrators of a transportation scheme in which ships would lie about their final destinations and head to North Korea with fuel products. U.S. officials say the tactic is common for nations looking to avoid the consequences of violating international sanctions.

The new measures officially sanction the North Korea-flagged Kum Un San, five other vessels, nine entities and 16 other businessmen and public officials, the U.S. Department of Treasury announced on Wednesday.

“Treasury continues to systematically target individuals and entities financing the Kim (Jong-un) regime (in North Korea) and its weapons programs, including officials complicit in North Korean sanctions evasion schemes,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said while announcing the new measures. “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.”

Russia isn’t the only country caught supporting North Korea’s fuel needs this month. A Wall Street Journal report said U.S. intelligence forces tracked at least six Chinese vessels delivering oil to the pariah country’s ports. China had agreed to halt fuel shipments as part of an international effort to pressure Pyongyang to forfeit its nuclear weapons and long-range missiles program.

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The U.S. evidence also shows the ships endeavoring to disguise their activities, officials say. Certain vessels purposely turned off their Automatic Identification Systems (AIS), which could prove to be dangerous, as demonstrated by the recent collision of an Iranian and Chinese tanker in the East China Sea. Both ships’ tracking systems had been offline at the time of the crash for unknown reasons.

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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