North Korea has been provided an economic lifeline by Russian tankers who have, in recent months, shipped fuel to the rogue state at least three times. This was done by transferring of the fuel at sea.
This was reveled in media reports quoting two senior Western European security sources.
The sources also said that this act by Russia was against the U.N. sanctions against North Korea. It should be reiterated the Russia is the second largest exporter of oil globally and it is also a veto holding member of the Security Council at the U.N.
The transfers reportedly happened in the months of October and November.
“Russian vessels have made ship-to-ship transfers of petrochemicals to North Korean vessels on several occasions this year in breach of sanctions,” one source told the media on condition of anonymity.
The involvement of the Russian state in the recent fuel transfers could not be ascertained due to lack of evidence, according to a second source.
“There is no evidence that this is backed by the Russian state, but these Russian vessels are giving a lifeline to the North Koreans,” the second European security source said.
Sources also confirmed that the conclusion of the happening of the act was based on naval intelligence and satellite images of the tankers that function from the Russian Far Eastern ports on the Pacific.
There were no comments made by Russia’s Foreign Ministry and the Russian Customs Service.
Imported fuel is critical for the continued functioning the struggling economy of North Korea. Oil is also required for the nuclear program and the development of intercontinental ballistic missile. These programs have been identified to be threatening to the peace in Asia.
“The vessels are smuggling Russian fuel from Russian Far Eastern ports to North Korea,” sources reportedly said.
The media reports however were unable to independently verify the truth behind the claims made by the sources.
News agency Reuters claimed that unusual movements on the part of some of the Russian vessels such as switching off the transponders that help to pin point the position of the vessel were observed by analysis of ship satellite positioning data consulted by it.
Shipping data also showed that similar transponder switching off was done by two other Russian tankers while on their journey sometime in the middle of October and November. The vessels had deported from Slavyanka and Nakhodka into open seas where the switching off had occurred.
(Adapted from CNBC)