“The North Korean shipping industry is a primary means by which North Korea
evades sanctions to fund its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs,”
Treasury said in a notice Friday. “As such, the United States will continue
targeting persons, wherever located, who facilitate North Korea’s illicit
shipping practices.”

The sanctions, which the Trump administration called the largest ever aimed at
unraveling North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, target one individual, 27 entities
and 28 vessels across nine jurisdictions, including China, Singapore and Hong

“We are aggressively targeting [North Korea’s] ability to evade sanctions,
while also significantly hindering […] the regime’s ability to continue to
conduct these illicit maritime activities that facilitate coal and fuel
transport among others, in international waters,” a senior administration
official said during a briefing Friday.

In a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference Friday morning,
President Donald Trump called the sanctions the “heaviest” ever imposed on a

“Frankly, hopefully, something positive can happen,” Trump said.

According to Treasury, North Korea has been using a number of deceptive
practices to evade international prohibitions on trade, including physically
altering vessel identification, falsifying cargo and vessel documents,
disabling and manipulation collision avoidance systems and orchestrating
ship-to-ship transfers outside of ports.

North Korea operates a fleet of 24 tankers capable of engaging in ship-to-ship
transfers of refined petroleum products and other banned goods, Treasury said.

On January 24, Treasury sanctioned 16 individuals, six vessels and nine
entities, including the North Korean Ministry of Crude Oil Industry, in
response North Korea’s development of weapons of mass destruction and trade in
violation of UN resolutions.

In September, the UN Security Council agreed to a ban on all condensate and
natural gas liquids supplied to North Korea and limiting exports of refined
products to a total of 500,000 barrels from October 1 to December 31 and to 2
million barrels for all of 2018.

The resolution also bars UN members from exporting more crude to North Korea
than they exported over the previous 12 months.

According to China’s official customs data, the last crude exports to North
Korea were in December 2013 at 92,223 mt, with a total of 578,002 mt (4.24
million barrels) of exports to the country that year.

After that, no crude exports to North Korea are recorded, but market sources
in North Asia say North Korea currently takes about 6 million barrels/year of
Chinese crude.

China has also faced criticism from the Trump administration that it was
shipping crude oil, refined products and other goods to North Korea in
violation of UN resolutions.

On December 28, Trump tweeted: “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!”

–Brian Scheid, brian.scheid@spglobal.com

–Edited by Maurice Geller, maurice.geller@spglobal.com

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