Trump Rebuked China for North Korea’s Oil Smuggling. It’s More Complicated.

The opaque world of the global maritime industry makes it exceedingly difficult to prevent North Korea from obtaining oil, despite sanctions.

Comments: 16

  1. There will always be someone willing to cheat for the right price. For example, the two ships, both of which had turned off their navigation beacons (no innocent explanation for that), that recently collided were probably engaged in illicit trade with North Korea. Mine their harbors. Act of war? So was torpedoing a South Korean navy ship, and shelling a South Korean island. Mines won't kill anyone who isn't trying to run the blockade.

  2. "Mines won't kill anyone who isn't trying to run the blockade." You do realize that NK uses its harbors for domestic shipping, fishing, etc., right?

  3. Indeed, the tougher sanctions North Korea faces, the higher price it has to pay for contraband goods sold on high seas. The shipping industry is a highly murky business. Tracing the identity of a ship owner is difficult, especially in parts of the world where changing the IMO number of a ship could be as easy as changing the number-plate of a car. Although China and Russia officially support UN sanctions against Pyongyang, they turn a blind eye to smuggling activities, which are mostly conducted by thugs with links to top offcials of the respective countries. No wonder Beijing and Moscow have shown "little inclination" to "police sanctions more vigorously." It suits them fine that North Korea is posing a threat to Washington.

  4. Months ago the German news magazine SPIEGEL reported several fully loaded North Korean oil-tankers were spotted leaving the Russian seaport of Vladivostock over the course of a few months. Are we really supposed to believe that Washington wasn't aware of this?

  5. Everything is corruption. Democracy was supposed to be above corruption. LOL Humans are animals..."why don't we do it in the road?"

  6. Your headline abuses the truth. it is not really more complicated than that.

  7. American failure here goes back through multiple Administrations. It is not as if North Korea is endowed with domestic uranium, large quantities of capital, and a world class Department of Nuclear Physics at Pyongyang University. Their sources for uranium, financing, and knowledge could have been identified publicly and sanctioned (or taken out if necessary) early in the game, even if their sources were American or allied corporations, individuals, and countries. American Intelligence has been a failure for decades, as it became highly politicized, giving Presidents info they already believed or wanted to hear instead of the unvarnished facts and analyses needed to make good decisions, the agencies' proper mandate. Presidents have been a failure for decades in refusing to hold our Intelligence services accountable and, in the case of the C.I.A., transferring military operations to a civilian agency, thus taking its focus off its proper functions of information gathering and analysis. Making matters worse, the government with the complicity of media across the board, has portrayed and convinced the American people that North Korea was but a joke, effectively removing our understanding and legitimate political input. While analysis and public accountability of our institutional failures are necessary, the problem now is what to do. Unfortunately, our Administration and Intelligence are far from having gotten up to speed, as we are still surprised by every North Korean move.

  8. The important facts: 1) North Korea is a land buffer between China and the U.S. So it is in China's interest to maintain North Korea as it is. 2) American consumers are addicted to Chinese-produced goods (both cheap and expensive) because American corporate "geniuses", from Apple to Walmart, manufacture their goods in China, where labor is cheap because in a dictatorship the workers have NO human, civil, labor or safety rights. Nor are there any environmental protection laws. 3) In fact, China's "president" Xi is no more the president than Kim is the "president" of North Korea, in spite of what the NY Times and other media say. Both countries are run in almost EXACTLY the same way. Xi occupies the same position as Mao, Chairman of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. 4) But Wall Street and corporate America are not just bed with China; they are truly in love with China. In fact, if Trump believes that anything that he says matters when it comes to China, Trump is a "stable idiot." China OWNS us. The 20st century was the American century. The 21st century is the Chinese century. The 22nd century will belong to no one because what's left won't be worth owning.

  9. You are dreaming if you think you can deprive North Korea of oil, USA. Everybody needs it and will get it. And I hope they do. The US is the problem as usual.

  10. Rhodesia had an embargo which was broken. Cuba has had an embargo which was broken. As long as there's a will, there's a way. Especially if the will has dollars behind it. There are several countries that deserve to have embargoes today but don't because the moneyed,and so-called national, interests have a way with corrupt politicians to look the other way.

  11. Thanks for your article. The name Trafigura Group popped out at me. While of course, a major oil-trading firm, it wouldn't be the first time they've connived at breaking sanctions; Marc Rich's progeny carrying on as they do? It sure would be nice to see globalized corporate transparency regulations, so that who owns what would be easily and cheaply available public information. I'm sure Congress and the Trump administration will put that high on their priority list.

  12. Perhaps rather than, under US pressure and threats of war, adopting ever sharper 'sanctions' against the DPRK (which certainly constitute a casus belli) the UNO Security Council should adopt measures to reduce tensions on the Korean peninsula, as the leaders of the DPRK and the RoK themselves are doing. That is, in the event that the amelioration of these tensions is the true goal of the measures imposed.... Henri

  13. RoK is illegal renegade province of Peaceful North Korea!

  14. To me this is happening on the open sea indicates the sanctions are working mostly, otherwise the North Koreans don't need to take that kind of risk. But we do need someone to blame: why can't we stop all those illicit drugs coming to this country? Haven't we spend enough money on our border security? Maybe we do need the Trump's Wall !

  15. Brutal trump regime attack peace-loving PRC and NK -- no reason!

  16. Sanctions only hurt the people of a country, never the leaders. Sanctions frequently backfire.