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China Told to Stop Tankers in its Waters Reaching N. Korea

The Group of Seven nations, the European Union and three other countries are urging China to expel oil tankers from its waters that appear to be taking fuel to North Korea in defiance of UN sanctions, according to a letter seen by AFP on Friday.

“We have concerns regarding the continuing presence of multiple oil tankers… that use your territorial waters in Sansha Bay as refuge to facilitate their trade of sanctioned petroleum products to the DPRK,” the letter said, using initials for the formal name Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Ambassadors from the G7 nations — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain and the United States — signed the letter addressed to China’s UN envoy Zhang Jun.

Also signing were envoys from the European Union, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

In the letter, the ambassadors told Zhang they “would like to provide your government with additional information and satellite imagery that clearly indicates these practices continued to occur within China’s jurisdiction in 2022 and have continued in 2023.”

“We reiterate our previous request that China inspect the vessels for evidence of illicit oil smuggling, deny them all services, and ultimately expel them from your waters as quickly as possible,” it added.

A source said the letter had been sent to the Chinese envoy, though there was no confirmation it had been received.

Sansha Bay is in China’s Fujian province and connects to the East China Sea through a deep channel.

The letter noted that the presence and movement of the tankers was observed by the UN group of experts monitoring sanctions compliance by North Korea.

North Korea has been subject to UN sanctions since 2006 over its missile launches and nuclear programs.

Additional sanctions in 2017 limited its crude oil imports.

The Security Council has been unable to reach a united position since then, unlike earlier years.

In May 2022, China and Russia vetoed a resolution imposing new sanctions on Pyongyang, and no Council resolution or statement has been adopted since then despite several missile launches by North Korea.

On Friday, North Korea fired several cruise missiles into the Yellow Sea, off the Korean Peninsula, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

The United States regularly accuses Beijing and Moscow of “shielding” the North Korean regime and encouraging further launches by preventing a united response from the Council.

“It is critical for the international community, including China, to send a strong and unified message that the DPRK must refrain from provocation, abide by its (UN Security Council) obligations… to achieve a complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” the letter said.

Source : Thai PBS World