March 14, 2019 14:06
North Korea used a secret network of submarine pipelines to pump in oil from ships to its ports, according to a report by the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee on North Korea on Tuesday.
The report pinpoints Nampo port as a hub of "suspected illegal activity."
It said the port was consistently used for "loading prohibited exports of coal," and "by tankers documented as engaged in illegal ship-to-ship transfers."
"Underwater pipelines attached to offloading buoys are used to transfer fuel from vessels to the terminals in the Nampo port complex," it added. "Ship-to-ship transfers involve increasingly advanced evasion techniques," like "the disguising of vessels through ship identity theft and false Automatic Identification System (AIS) transmissions."
North Koreans used the Chinese messaging app WeChat to coordinate ship-to-ship transfers.
"The receiver vessel transferred to a supply ship a photograph via WeChat showing the last four digits of a [yuan] banknote to authenticate the receiver vessel prior to fuel transfer," the report said.
That way the North imported an estimated 2.27 million barrels of oil from January to August last year. The UNSC has capped North Korea's oil imports at 500,000 barrels per year.
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