Chinese trade numbers for August show the country imported a large quantity of coal in August, in possible breach of UN resolutions and the country’s own laws.
Newly released figures the Beijing’s General Administration of Customs show imports of 1.6 million tonnes of DPRK coal valued at over USD$130 million.
The trade would violate Beijing’s February decree that it would no longer import the commodity for the remainder of 2017.
“(I’m) surprised they reported it as some rumors on Chinese imports but nothing definitive,” Anthony Ruggiero, a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, told NK News.
“This is an area where the Trump administration should sanction firms and individuals importing the coal.”
The trade occurred as the UN approved new measures in early August which fully prohibited UN member states from importing numerous DPRK minerals, including coal.
The prohibition replaces an earlier a quota system used by the previous UN resolution, but countries were also given 30 days to implement the measures.
A Reuters report on the trade indicated the shipments may not have all taken place in August, with Beijing instead allowing coal which had been unloaded by North Korean ships to pass through customs.
Data from the NK Pro vessel tracker also indicated that some DPRK ships continued to call at Chinese ports capable of handling coal, though traffic may have been lower after Beijing announced its suspension.
U.S. intelligence also recently claimed, in intel made public to the Congressional House Foreign Affairs Committee, that North Korean vessels were using more complicated evasion networks to move coal to China.
During a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on September 12 in Washington DC, Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing Marshall Billingslea revealed that North Korean ships were first moving coal to the Russian Far East and then China.
Ships were using a combination of methods, including switching off their AIS transponders and breaking maritime laws to hide their activities.
“Vessels originate in China, they turn off their transponders as they move into North Korean waters and dock at North Korean ports and they on load commodities such as coal,” Billingslea told the committee.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
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Featured Image: Hot BBQ Coals by Chris_Parfitt on 2007-09-22 19:39:35