At least six cargo ships linked to China furtively violated U.N. sanctions by taking on North Korean coal late last year, potentially providing a significant boost to the rogue regime’s coffers, the U.S. alleges.
The U.N. Security Council in August hit North Korea with sanctions that were projected to cut nearly $1 billion from its annual exports revenue of roughly $3 billion, banning exports of coal, iron ore, and other products.
The move, which China ultimately endorsed, came after the isolated country fired two intercontinental ballistic missiles that raised international tensions.
But the six vessels, which the U.S. tracked by satellite and formally reported to the U.N. as sanctions violators in December, defied the sanctions by bringing North Korean coal to Vietnam, Russia, or other ships in mid-sea transfers.
The paper found that the six ships are either managed or owned by Chinese companies or firms registered in Hong Kong. The U.S. also sought to have four other ships that have no apparent connections to China labeled as sanctions violators.
Meanwhile, the U.S. was watching from above, using spy satellites to observe the ship that officials estimate could hold up to $1.5 million worth of black-market coal.
All U.N. members would have to ban the Glory Hope 1 and the other five ships from their ports in order to formally designate them as sanctions violators.