US Spy Satellites Spotted Chinese Ships Selling Illegal Oil to N.Korea

According to Chosun Media, U.S. reconnaissance satellites have photographed around 30 illegal transactions of Chinese vessels selling oil to North Korea on the West Sea in October.

China’s trade with North has recently collapsed after U.S. President Donald Trump unleashed a barrage of sanctions in September targeting North Korea’s imports of refined petroleum products.

A government source said, “We need to focus on the fact that the illicit trade started after a UN Security Council resolution in September drastically capped North Korea’s imports of refined petroleum products.”

Back in November, the US. Treasury Department sanctioned an additional six North Korean shipping and trading companies and 20 of their ships after the satellite pictures surfaced. In the above picture, the North Korean ship named Ryesonggang 1, was easily identified and connected to the illegal sale of oil from China.

According to Chosun Media,

The department noted that the two ships appeared to be illegally trading in oil from ship to ship to bypass sanctions.


Ship-to-ship trade with North Korea on the high seas is forbidden in UNSC Resolution 2375 adopted in September, but such violations are nearly impossible to detect unless China aggressively cracks down on smuggling.   

Last month, the Communist Party spokespeople slammed new US sanctions targeting Chinese traders doing business with North Korean businessmen, calling them “wrong” (SeeChina Slams “Wrong” US Sanctions Against North Korea-Linked Trading Firms). At this point, it’s still unknown if the Chinese government is turning a blind eye to the illegal open sea transactions with North Korea, but as of today, it seems as a blatant snub to the Trump administration.

As President Trump and the UN celebrate last week’s latest round of new sanctions for North Korea (See: In Victory For Trump, UN Imposes New North Korean Sanctions). The likelihood of illegal smuggling routes between both countries will surely expand. The question we ask: Now What?