According to South Korea's Chosun Ilbo, U.S. recon satellites have photographed around 30 illegal transactions involving Chinese vessels selling oil to North Korea on the West Sea in October.
The images allegedly showed large Chinese and North Korean ships transacting in oil in a part of the West Sea closer to China than South Korea. The satellite pictures even showed the names of the ships.
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." Meanwhile, on paper, China's trade with North has recently collapsed after U.S. President Donald Trump unleashed a barrage of sanctions in September targeting North Korea's imports of refined petroleum products.
Back in November, the US. Treasury Department sanctioned an additional six North Korean shipping and trading companies and 20 of their ships after the satellite pictures surfaced. In the above picture, the North Korean ship named Ryesonggang 1, was easily identified and connected to the illegal sale of oil from China.
According to Chosun Media, "the department noted that the two ships appeared to be illegally trading in oil from ship to ship to bypass sanctions."