American reconnaissance satellites captured Chinese vessels selling oil to North Korean vessels in October, in violation of UN resolutions and Chinese claims of compliance.
South Korean government sources said the images show Chinese and North Korean crews conducting the illicit trade in a part of the West Sea closer to China than to the Korean peninsula.
The satellites even managed to capture the name of one of the vessels.
The U.S. Treasury Department placed six North Korean shipping and trading companies and 20 of their ships on sanctions list on Nov. 21, when it published spy satellite images taken on Oct. 19 showing a ship named Ryesonggang 1 connected to a Chinese vessel.
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. [source]
(Analyst comment: Now you know why President Trump and his national security team continue to claim China can “do more” to assist in bringing down the North Korean regime if it wanted to.)
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