The United Nations has imposed several sanctions on North Korea including ship-to-ship trades, after the reclusive nation and its leader Kim Jong-un refuse to put an end to the nuclear programme. But US spy satellites have spotted Chinese tankers selling oil to North Korean ships on the West Sea about 30 times since October, even though the sanctions were put in place in September.
After the pictures of the oil trade emerged, US President Donald Trump said that he was "very disappointed" and lashed out at China for carrying out trade with Pyongyang. He explained that finding a solution to the conflict would be very difficult if China intended to support North Korea's trade on the sly.
"Caught RED HANDED - very disappointed that China is allowing oil to go into North Korea. There will never be a friendly solution to the North Korea problem if this continues to happen!" he tweeted.
Trump, since the beginning, has been loud and clear about how North Korea was playing with fire when it comes to its nuclear programme and that the US was ready for a takedown. He has also spoken about how China should be playing an important role in solving the North Korea issue and had tweeted: "China is very much the economic lifeline to North Korea so, while nothing is easy, if they want to solve the North Korean problem, they will."
Caught RED HANDED - very disappointed that China is allowing oil to go into North Korea. There will never be a friendly solution to the North Korea problem if this continues to happen!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 28, 2017
However, with photos emerging as proof that Beijing was still carrying out business with North Korea, Trump is clearly not pleased.
The satellites have captured several images of North Korean and Chinese ships gathering close together to trade oil, reported South Korea daily The Chosun Ilbo. Not just that, the images reportedly also show the names of the ships and one of them, connected to a Chinese ship to receive oil, has been identified as Rye Song Gang 1, which was sanctioned on November 21.
Speaking of the latest spy images, a government source told the South Korean daily: "We need to focus on the fact that the illicit trade started after a UN Security Council resolution in September drastically capped North Korea's imports of refined petroleum products."
China is said to be the main source of oil for North Korea and is known to have several trade deals with Pyongyang. And while the spy images clearly show Beijing's vessels trading oil with Pyongyang, data from the General Administration of Customs released on Tuesday said that China had cut off all deals with North Korea since the sanctions.
As per the data, China did not export oil, including jet fuel, gasoline, diesel or fuel oil, to North Korea in November, marking the second straight month of no exports, reported Reuters. The Chinese customs data also said that Beijing did not import coal, iron ore, or lead from Pyongyang in the month as part of the sanctions.
The US, as well as the UN, have imposed quite a few sanctions on Pyongyang since the hydrogen bomb test on September 3. The nation also sanctioned two North Korean officials Kim Jong-sik and Ri Pyong-chol. The duo is said to be the "key leaders" of North Korea's ballistic missile programme. Under the new sanctions, any transaction carried out by Jong-sik and Ri will be blocked and their American assets, if any, will also be frozen, reported BBC.