By: Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein
For the first time since 2020, Russia recently reported oil exports to North Korea in their official trade statistics. These numbers obviously do not include the unknown but likely large quantities of oil that the country buys from Russia under the radar, through smuggling. According to the official numbers,
Russia had exported 67,300 barrels of refined petroleum to North Korea by April, the first deliveries reported to the U.N. since Moscow said it shipped 255 barrels of refined oil to the North in August 2020.
Under U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes, countries are required to report monthly sales of refined petroleum to the Security Council North Korea sanctions committee.
The oil sales began shortly after train travel between Russia and North Korea resumed in November for the first time since 2020, raising expectations of a resumption of trade.
Although likely an underestimate of the total (including smuggling), this number is significant, not least because of the rapid increase. But as with other current trade figures on North Korea right now, as the border seems to be opening slowly to trade, the numbers are only a fraction of North Korea’s regular imports. North Korea’s annual imports of refined petroleum before the pandemic, for example, were estimated at 4.5 million barrels per year. Assuming the same pace of Russian exports continues through the year, that would put these imports for North Korea at around 3 percent of total annual imports.
This is not to say that the news isn’t significant, particularly if it marks the beginning of a longer trend. But for now, North Korea’s oil and fuel imports remain, as far as we can tell, far lower than their regular levels.View Original Article