The Chinese government is holding up crude oil shipments North Korea has imported from Iran, the Asahi Shimbun reported on Sunday. According to the Japanese daily, the North's oil imports from Iran are being held up at China's Dalian and Qingdao ports.
Pyongyang last year signed a contract with Tehran to import about 500,000 tons of crude oil. It was shipped to China in spring this year by tankers flying the flag of a third country, where it was to be refined and shipped to the North.
But Beijing is still sitting on the shipment. "It is unclear what legal basis China is using for holding up the shipments because condensate and other petroleum products needed for daily living are not banned under UN economic sanctions imposed against North Korea," the paper said.
The North receives most of its oil supply from China and was apparently hoping to reduce its dependence on its huge neighbor by signing the contract with Iran.
Sources speculated that China may be holding up the shipment to "maintain its control over Pyongyang," the paper said.