Pyongyang, Dec 31: North Korea announced it would continue to enhance its nuclear capabilities, with state media declaring the Communist state an “invincible” and “responsible” nuclear power.
“Do not expect any change in its policy. Its entity as an invincible power can neither be undermined nor be stamped out,” the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said. “The US persistently moves against the DPRK in political, economic, military, diplomatic and all other fields till the end of this year could not stop even a moment the advance of the DPRK confident in the victory of its cause.”
The security council has unanimously approved several rounds of sanctions against North Korea over its missile tests and nuclear program, including a tough resolution earlier this month.
The resolution included sharply reduced limits on North Korea’s refined oil imports, the return home of all North Koreans working overseas within 24 months, and a crackdown on ships smuggling banned items including coal and oil to and from the country. It didn’t include even harsher measures sought by the US that would ban all oil imports and freeze the international assets of the government and its leader, Kim Jong-un.
The two security sources quoted by Reuters cited naval intelligence and satellite imagery of the vessels operating out of Russian far eastern ports on the Pacific but declined to disclose further details. Ship satellite positioning data consulted by Reuters and available on Reuters Eikon reportedly showed unusual movements and behaviour by some of the Russian vessels named by the security sources including switching off the transponders which give a precise location.
The security sources said the Russian-flagged tanker Vityaz was one vessel that had transferred fuel to North Korean vessels. Yaroslav Guk, deputy director of the tanker’s owner, Vladivostok-based Alisa Ltd, denied the vessel had had contact with North Korean vessels. “Absolutely no, this is very dangerous,” he said. “It would be complete madness.”
One of the sources said there was nothing to suggest Russian state involvement in the latest transfers. “There is no evidence that this is backed by the Russian state but these Russian vessels are giving a lifeline to the North Koreans,” the source said.
The Russian Customs Service declined to comment when asked on Wednesday if Russian ships had supplied fuel to North Korean vessels.
The latest report follows China’s rejection of claims by Donald Trump that it had illicitly shipped oil products to North Korea. On Thursday the US president said Beijing had been “caught red-handed” and that he was “very disappointed that China is allowing oil to go into North Korea”. Such moves would prevent “a friendly solution” to the crisis over Pyongyang’s nuclear program, he said.
North Korea relies on imported fuel to keep its struggling economy functioning. It also requires oil for its intercontinental ballistic missile and nuclear programme that the US says threatens the peace in Asia.