Russia, not China, violating sanctions regime against North Korea, Nemets says

A state media image of North Korea's missile launch in May 2017.

A state media image of North Korea's missile launch in May 2017. 

Analysis & Opinion, Russia

US President Donald Trump has lashed out at China for violating sanctions regime against North Korea, Aleksandr Nemets says; but in fact, it is Russia that has been violating those restrictions, going so far as to hide what it is doing by transferring oil and critical components for Pyongyang’s rocket and nuclear programs at sea.

Russian aid to North Korea during the last quarter of 2017, the US-based Russian analyst says, has been widely documented. (See reuters.com, dw.com and censor.net.ua.)

Kim Jong Un, the "Supreme Leader" of North Korea, supervises the April 22 test-launch of a missile from a submerged platform. (Image source: KCNA)

Kim Jong Un, the “Supreme Leader” of North Korea, supervises the April 22 test-launch of a missile from a submerged platform. (Image source: KCNA)

Trump’s unwillingness to criticize the Russia of Vladimir Putin continues, Nemets says, noting that the New York Times on January 2 pointed out that China has “drastically reduced the supply of oil and oil products via the pipeline … as a result of which prices for gas and diesel fuel in North Korea doubled.”

“In my view,” Nemets writes, “the picture is clear. After the September 3 test of a hydrogen bomb, harsh new sanctions against Pyongyang were adopted by the US and the UN. Because China fulfilled those sanctions … in October, prices for gasoline and diesel fuel in North Korea rose two to three times.”

That might have been crippling to the North Korean economy, he continues;

“but Putin rapidly moved to help North Korea, first by major open supplied of petroleum products and then by secret transfers on the open sea,” transfers less easy to track than ships under the flag of any particular country in the harbor of another.

North Korean missile launch with Kin Jong Un watching“Earlier,” Nemets says, Russia did everything more or less in the open via railroad and some ships, both “North Korean and ‘non-governmental’ Russian ones,” between the ports of Vladivostok and Radjin.” But to hide what it is doing, it is now transferring both oil and proscribed goods on the open sea.

The proscribed goods, of course, include not just “thousands of tons of petroleum products” but also “tens of tons, not more of components of rockets and nuclear equipment, which it would be impossible to produce in North Korea even with the use of ‘stolen’ equipment from China.”

In short, Nemets suggests, China is cooperating with the West to rein in the North Koreans while Russia, Trump’s protestations to the contrary, is doing everything it can to make it easier and thus more likely for Pyongyang to continue to behave in a threatening manner in violation of international law and agreements.

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Edited by: A. N.

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