Chinese, Russian oil shipments to N. Korea plunge amid coronavirus pandemic

Supplied photo taken March 20, 2019, shows a North Korean tanker, left, and a vessel of unknown nationality suspected of engaging in illicit ship-to-ship transfer of goods in the East China Sea. Photo courtesy of Japanese Defense Ministry. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

SEOUL, Jul 22, 2020, Yonhap. Refined oil products shipped from China and Russia to North Korea plunged in the first half, a U.N. report showed Wednesday, amid indications of shrinking demand due to the economic fallout of the country’s antivirus efforts, Yonhap News Agency reported.

According to the report posted on the website the U.N. Security Council committee handling sanctions enforcement on North Korea, China provided a total of 2,820 tons of refined petroleum products to North Korea during the January-June period, down from 7,602 tons a year earlier.

China supplied 397 tons in January, which dropped to 132 tons and 12 tons, respectively, in February and March. In April, no oil shipment was recorded, though it rebounded to 1,273 tons and 1,007 tons in May and June, the report showed.

During the same period, Russia’s supply of refined petroleum products to North Korea more than halved on-year to 11,482 tons, the website showed.

The on-year declines are attributable to lower demand in North Korea for oil products as Pyongyang’s all-out fight against the coronavirus appears to be taking a toll on its already-frail economy.

Under U.N. Resolution 2397, adopted in 2017 after the North’s missile provocations, the annual amount of oil that can be offered or sold to North Korea is capped at 500,000 barrels, which is equivalent to some 60,000-70,000 tons.

Member countries are asked to report their oil shipments to the North.

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