US President Donald Trump has accused China of conducting oil trade with North Korea in violation of United Nations sanctions designed to punish Pyongyang over nuclear and missile programs.
In a tweet on Thursday, Trump said he was “very disappointed that China is allowing oil to go into North Korea” and suggested that such sales would increase the chances of an armed conflict with Pyongyang.
“Caught RED HANDED – very disappointed that China is allowing oil to go into North Korea. There will never be a friendly solution to the North Korea problem if this continues to happen!” Trump wrote.
Trump’s strong reaction comes after a South Korean newspaper said Chinese and North Korean vessels have been illicitly linking up at sea to get oil to the North.
China earlier on Thursday rejected the allegation, saying there have been no oil sales by Chinese ships to North Korea in violation of UN sanctions.
Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said at a regular briefing that China, including its military, strictly enforced UN Security Council resolutions.
“The situation you have mentioned absolutely does not exist,” he said, when asked whether Chinese ships were providing oil to North Korean ships.
Last week, the UN Security Council voted unanimously in favor of a US-drafted resolution that, among other crippling sanctions, sought to ban almost 90 percent of the North-bound exports of refined petroleum products by limiting them to 500,000 barrels a year.
The resolution further capped crude oil supplies to North Korea at 4 million barrels a year. It also committed the Security Council to further reductions if it were to carry out another nuclear test or launch another intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
The Security Council said it had adopted the punitive measures in a bid to force the North’s leaders to halt their nuclear and missile programs, less than a month after Pyongyang announced that it had successfully tested an ICBM in a “breakthrough” that places the US mainland within range of its nuclear weapons, whose warheads could endure re-entry to the Earth’s atmosphere.
The controversial test drew quick and widespread condemnations, with Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, threatening to destroy Pyongyang in case of a possible war.
North Korea has denounced the latest round of sanctions approved by the UN against Pyongyang, saying the punitive measures are another example of “state-sponsored terrorism” committed by the United States.
A spokesman for the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, an affiliate of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party, on Monday accused the US of threatening and appeasing the Security Council member states for over 20 days before Resolution 2397 was passed on December 23.
The spokesman said Washington’s actions can trigger a nuclear war across the Korean Peninsula and beyond.
On Sunday, Pyongyang said it was a “pipe dream” for Washington to think the North would abandon its nuclear program. It also called the new resolution an “act of war” that violates North Korea’s sovereignty.
Washington’s decades-long military presence in and around the Korean Peninsula has forced Pyongyang to develop its ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons as a deterrent against Washington’s aggression.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has ordered the production of more rocket warheads and engines. Pyongyang says it will not give up on its nuclear deterrence unless Washington ends its hostile policy toward the country and dissolves the US-led UN command in South Korea. Thousands of US soldiers are stationed in South Korea and Japan.