June 29, 2017 12:26
North Korea imports 200,000-300,000 tons of oil from Russia annually, Voice of America reported Sunday.
The information comes from Ri Jong-ho, who was a senior official with Room 39, a secretive branch of the Workers Party that manages the party coffers. He fled in 2014 and was given asylum in the U.S. last year.
"We first strike a deal with Singaporean firms, which then enter into another contract with Russian oil companies," he told VOA.
The oil is then shipped in by tanker, while oil imports from China come by pipeline. The North imports an estimated 1 million tons of crude oil, half of it free of charge, from China every year.
"China also supplies the North with roughly 500,000 tons of crude oil by pipeline, all of which though goes toward Kim's massive military, all of which is free of charge," Ri said.
The oil is not given to either enterprises or gas stations, he added. "If the operations of the North Korea-bound tankers carrying oil from Russia and China come to a full stop, the regime's lifeline will be severed."
The U.S. is trying to find ways of pressuring Russia and China to suspend their supplies of crude oil, gasoline, and diesel to the North.
Already, China National Petroleum Corporation has suspended sales of fuel to North over the last month or two, Reuters reported Wednesday.
Sources told Reuters CNPC made the decision "over concerns the state-owned oil company won't get paid, as pressure mounts on Pyongyang to rein in its nuclear and missile programs."
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