South Korean officials told Yonhap news agency that customs authorities took and searched Lighthouse Winmore when it entered the country's Yeosu port on November 24 after transferring 600 tonnes of refined petroleum to a North Korean vessel on October 19.
South Korean customs authorities seized and inspected the ship and questioned the crew after they returned to Yeosu on November 24, according to the official, who didn't want to be named, citing office rules.
Composite photo of oil transfer between China and North Korea is captured from the website of the U.S. Treasury Department. According to the information, China has not exported any oil products or gasoline, jet fuel, diesel or fuel oil to North Korea in November, following the United Nations restrictions.
The seizure comes after US President Donald Trump tweeted on Thursday he was "very disappointed" in China for allegedly selling oil to North Korea, saying Beijing had been "caught red handed" after news reports accused Chinese ships of performing ship-to-ship transfers of oil and coal on the high seas.
Beijing, long North Korea's main diplomatic protector, has expressed growing frustration with its nuclear and missile tests.
"If they don't help us with North Korea, then I do what I've always said I want to do".
The U.S. has repeatedly called China a pivotal player in the effort to convince North Korea to rein in its nuclear program and ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula. The U.N. sanctions allow limited supplies of oil but prohibit transfers of any goods to North Korean vessels at sea.
Pyongyang has for years used deceptive shipping practices to help bring in revenue for the country's regime, analysts say, and the U.S. has called for more to be done to crack down on ships transporting goods to and from North Korea. A government source said, "We need to focus on the fact that the illicit trade started after a UN Security Council resolution in September drastically capped North Korea's imports of refined petroleum products".
The matter was taken to another level, as the USA reportedly learned that China has continued to sell oil to North Korea despite the sale being prohibited by sanctions.
"The situation you have mentioned absolutely does not exist", he said.
Trump did not directly threaten to launch military action to resolve the crisis, but in recent months, Washington has promised to "utterly destroy" the regime of Kim Jong-Un if war breaks out.
"The biggest problem this world has is nuclear proliferation", Trump said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying rejected Trump's claims.
"The solution is a coherent strategy, not bluster", he said.
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