How North Korea survives on an oil-drip from Russia

By Roman Goncharenko

Russia has voted in favor of new sanctions against North Korea in the United Nations Security Council, even though they include new oil sanctions. The Russian resource plays a much greater role than previously thought.

“Oil is the life blood of North Korea’s effort to build and fund a nuclear weapon,” said US ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Nikki Haley after the UN Security Council voted to apply new sanctions against the communist country Monday in New York. Washington would like to cut off oil exports to Pyongyang altogether but has been repeatedly thwarted by Russian and Chinese opposition. Moscow, which is fundamentally opposed to tough sanctions against North Korea, feels it deserves credit for single-handedly watering down legislation so far.

Thus, there will be no oil embargo. Instead, the latest UN Resolution places limits on the delivery of petroleum products such as gasoline and diesel fuel effective from October 1. From 2018 onwards North Korea will only be allowed to import about two million barrels of foreign oil each year. Depending on which estimates one uses, that would mean a 10-to-50 percent reduction in foreign oil imports. Until now, China was thought to be North Korea’s largest oil supplier but Russian imports have been growing steadily of late.