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U.S. and South Korea Team Up to Enforce North Korea Oil Sanctions

The United States and South Korea have joined forces to try and stop oil shipments to North Korea that contravene UN sanctions.

According to Reuters, the team effort was dubbed Enhanced Disruption Task Force and involved more than 30 officials from the two countries.

The news follows a report in the Financial Times from earlier this week that said Russia was shipping fuels directly to North Korea in violation of UN sanctions, which, the report said, were nearing collapse for lack of ways to enforce them effectively.

The report cited information from defense think tank the Royal United Services Institute, which cited satellite data as showing at least five North Korean tankers traveling to a Russian Far East port to load refined oil products.

“These oil deliveries constitute a full-frontal assault against the sanctions regime, which is now on the brink of collapse,” said the former coordinator of the UN panel in charge of enforcing the sanctions, as quoted by the FT.

"Oil is an essential resource for North Korea's nuclear and missile development and military posture," said the South Korean foreign ministry in a statement this week, as quoted by Reuters.

The sanctions do allow for a certain amount of crude oil and fuels to enter the country but these are capped at minuscule amounts: 4 million barrels of crude annually and 500,000 barrels of fuels.

Reuters also cites satellite data as showing North Korean tanker calling at more than one Russian port in the past few weeks.

Per the new report, the U.S. and South Korean government officials discussed ways of interfering with the direct oil supply coming into North Korea from Russia but no details were made public about these ways.

Meanwhile, worry in the West is growing that Russia may veto a UN Security Council proposal to extend the mandate of a UN panel that monitors the implementation of the North Korean sanctions.


By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on March 27 2024 said:
    Who appointed the United States and South Korea enforcers of UN oil sanctions against North Korea? There were no news from the United Nations granting them such authority. Moreover, both of them risk war even a nuclear one with North Korea if they try to enforce the sanctions on their own.

    The irony is that they neither rushed to enforce the implementation of UN Security Council resolution calling on Israel to ceasefire in Gaza nor did the United States come forward to stop the genocide of the Palestinian people in Gaza or the destruction of their country or their starvation.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert

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