June 08, 2017 12:42
China and Russia keep supporting North Korea's arms development by buying its iron ore and other goods and thereby weakening international sanctions, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported Tuesday.
China imported US$20.26 million worth of iron ore from the North in April, up 4.4 times from a year ago, the daily said, quoting analysis of China Customs Statistics data by Hong Kong business analysts CEIC.
That suggests that there has been no real change in China's attitude despite Chinese President Xi Jinping's promise to his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump in early April to put heavier pressure on the North.
The trade in North Korean iron ore was banned by the UN except for "livelihood purposes," which is China's justification for allowing or encouraging firms to continue buying it.
The North has increased exports of iron ore since coal, its chief export article, was banned.
Russia has also drastically increased trade with the North. Volume grew a whopping 85 percent on-year in the first quarter of the year. Russia sold some $31.41 million worth of energy products like oil to the North in the quarter, up 133 percent on-year, as supply from China seems to have dried up.
Hundreds of thousands of tons of Russian oil products are imported into the North every year, including transactions that are not covered in official statistics, according to a Western diplomat. Russia aims to increase trade with the North 10-fold by 2020.
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