ua en ru

US and South Korea form group to block Russian oil supplies to North Korea

US and South Korea form group to block Russian oil supplies to North Korea Photo: Russian oil to the DPRK will be blocked by the United States and South Korea (Getty Images)
Author: Liliana Oleniak

The United States and South Korea have set up a new working group aimed at preventing North Korea from illegally purchasing oil as the UN Security Council deadlock casts doubt on the future of international sanctions, Reuters reports.

The first meeting of the group was held in Washington on March 26. The meeting was attended by more than 30 officials from ministries and agencies responsible for diplomacy, intelligence, sanctions, and the maritime ban, according to a statement from the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The two sides expressed concern over Russia's oil supplies to North Korea and discussed ways to end the illegal cooperation between Moscow and Pyongyang, the statement said.

"Oil is an essential resource for North Korea's nuclear and missile development and military posture," the statement says.

UN sanctions

According to the UN Security Council's restrictions on North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile programs, Pyongyang is limited to importing 4 million barrels of crude oil and 500,000 barrels of petroleum products per year.

There is a high probability that Russia will veto a UN resolution calling for an extension of the mandate of the panel of experts overseeing sanctions on North Korea, a UN diplomat told Reuters last week.

The UN panel of experts that monitors the implementation of sanctions said this month that North Korean-flagged tankers may have delivered more than 1.5 million barrels of oil products between January 1 and September 15 last year.

The United States and South Korea say North Korea has been supplying Russia with weapons for use in Ukraine.

Commercial satellite imagery shows that North Korean oil tankers, including some sanctioned vessels, have been visiting Russian ports in recent weeks.

A US-South Korea task force is considering potential actions to disrupt North Korea's oil procurement networks, including exposing sanctions evasion activities, imposing unilateral sanctions, and engaging the private sector and third parties across the region that knowingly or unwittingly facilitate oil supplies, the US State Department said.

In the future, the task force may address other areas of sanctions evasion, including the sale of coal.

According to the US State Department, since September 2023, North Korea has supplied Russia with more than 10,000 containers of munitions or munitions-related materials.