US accuses North Korea of UN sanctions violations

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The United States is asking the U.N. Security Council to order an immediate halt to all deliveries of refined oil products to North Korea after finding that Pyongyang had violated restrictions on those imports, according to documents seen by AFP on Thursday.

The United States said that as of May 30, 89 North Korean tankers had brought in refined petroleum products illicitly obtained in ship-to-ship transfers this year.

Washington requested in a letter that the United Nations sanctions committee declare that North Korea had violated the UN-approved quota and "order an immediate halt to all transfers of refined petroleum products" to North Korea.

The U.N. Security Council has steadily tightened trade sanctions as leader Kim Jong Un's government pressed ahead with nuclear and missile development in defiance of foreign pressure.

US officials have insisted that Washington's policy of imposing sanctions on North Korea remains as tough as ever.

The United States provided a list to the Security Council committee of the 89 North Korean tankers and a few select photos, seen by Reuters.

The snub happened right after a meeting which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo characterized as very productive, but apparently North Korea did not agree.

The charge of a sanctions breach comes as Washington engages North Korea in a bid to convince Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons.

Noting that it is in the UN's interest to "support the interests of the two member states", Guterres called for the "need to persist and to ask all countries in the region to help facilitate things for agreements to be reached".

A confidential USA report sent to UN Security Council and seen by AFP news agency, estimated that at least 759,793 barrels of oil products had been delivered to North Korea between January 1 and May 30, well above the annual quota set at 500,000 barrels. The letter said that those sales must stop immediately. But it includes only one specific instance of a Russian-flagged tanker, the Patriot, conducting a ship-to-ship transfer, on April 10, with the North Korean tanker Wan Heng 11. The illicit transfer of fuel in North Korea could have easily exceeded the annual upper limit of 500,000 barrels, they stated.

"We call upon (North Korea) to fully implement its worldwide obligations; to eliminate its nuclear, chemical, and biological warfare capabilities and ballistic missiles, and abandon all related 'programmes", the statement said.

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