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U.S. Threatens Quick Sanctions on Russian Shippers Providing Fuel to North Korea

September 22, 2018

The United States appears to have adopted a tougher stance recently towards those helping North Korea get around UN sanctions.

Even as the U.S. explores opportunities to re-start denuclearization talks with North Korea, it is taking aim at those who dare to circumvent UN sanctions against the country.

Those sanctions date from 2006, when the 15 members of the UN security council, which includes Russia, voted tough sanctions of everything from food to fuel. It was part of a plan to shut down potential sources of funding for North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs.

The latest warnings came as Washington accused Moscow of illegally supplying fuel in violation of the sanctions. That came on September 17 when the U.S. UN ambassador Nikki Haley said that Russia had provided fuel to North Korea in sea transfers, had refused to kick out a North Korean the security council blacklisted in 2017, and had demanded alterations to a report which exposed further sanctions breaches by the Russians.

According to a statement from Heather Nauert, a U.S. State Department spokeswoman, North Korea – along with some help from others – is continuing to find ways to evade UN sanctions. As UN member states are required to prohibit even ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum fuel to the country, Nauert said that, “The United States will not hesitate to impose sanctions on any individual, entity or vessel supporting North Korea’s illicit activities, regardless of nationality.” Though her statements said nothing of Russia behind the sanction breaches, there was no question her statements and those earlier in the week from Haley were connected.

According to sources, the U.S. has identified 148 separate cases where tankers were illegally delivering fuel to North Korea. It has not gone public as to how many of those are from Russia.

While this new level of anger rises, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on September 21 that the U.S. still hopes to set up another summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un soon.

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