US President Donald Trump says he is “very disappointed that China is allowing oil to go into North Korea” and that such moves would prevent “a friendly solution” to the crisis over Pyongyang’s nuclear program.
“Caught RED HANDED – very disappointed that China is allowing oil to go into North Korea,” Mr Trump wrote in a post on Twitter.
“There will never be a friendly solution to the North Korea problem if this continues to happen!” he said.
China said there had been no UN sanction-breaking oil sales by Chinese ships to North Korea after a South Korean newspaper said Chinese and North Korean vessels had been illicitly linking up at sea to get oil to North Korea.
The Trump administration has led a drive to step up global sanctions on North Korea in response to Pyongyang’s efforts to develop nuclear-tipped missiles capable of hitting the United States.
Washington says the full cooperation of China, North Korea’s neighbour and main trading partner, is vital to the success of this effort, while warning that all options are on the table, including military ones, in dealing with North Korea.
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
The UN Security Council last week unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea for a recent intercontinental ballistic missile test, seeking to further limit its access to refined petroleum products and crude oil.
China has repeatedly said it is fully enforcing all resolutions against North Korea, despite suspicion in Washington, Seoul and Tokyo that loopholes still exist.
Asked at a regular briefing whether Chinese ships were illegally providing oil to North Korean ships, Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang reiterated that China, including the military, strictly enforced UN resolutions.
“The situation you have mentioned absolutely does not exist,” he said.
South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper this week quoted South Korean government sources as saying that spy satellites had detected 30 instances of ship-to-ship transfers to North Korean vessels since October.