In an apparent violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution, Russian ships have allegedly transferred oil products to North Korean vessels out at sea on several occasions, according to a published report.
The results of the investigation would be reported to the UN Security Council's sanctions committee, foreign ministry officials said.
A South Korean Foreign Ministry official said the ship transferred as much as 600 tons to the North Korea-flagged Sam Jong 2 on 19 October in worldwide waters between China and the Korean peninsula, on the order of its Taiwan-based charterer, Billions Bunker Group Corp.
The report cites two anonymous sources who say that North Korea is being aided by fuel tankers coming from Russian Federation.
"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 second European security source said.
"Instead of going to Taiwan, however, the vessel transferred the oil to a North Korean ship, the Sam Jong 2, and three other non-North Korean vessels in global waters, they said".
The Chinese Foreign Ministry also dismissed the charges on Friday, blaming "hyped-up media reports". "In reality, the ship in question has, since August, not docked at a Chinese port and there is no record of it entering or leaving a Chinese port", Ms. Hua said.
Taiwan's presidential office said the firm was not incorporated in Taiwan and China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said she did not have any information about the matter.
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The Lighthouse Winmore, a Hong Kong-flagged ship, is seen in waters off Yeosu, South Korea.
"China blocked six of the proposed vessels", a UN Security Council diplomat said.
China's denial came a day after it blocked a USA effort at the United Nations to blacklist six ships Washington believes had engaged in illicit trade with North Korea, a UN Security Council diplomat said.
She urged other countries to sever "all ties" with North Korea, including ceasing trade and expelling North Korean workers.
Prior to that, it was active between India and the United Arab Emirates.
As North Korea has hurled ballistic missiles over Japan, tested a hydrogen bomb and threatened Asian neighbours with annihilation, the United Nations has imposed a series of sanctions meant to weaken the nation's economy and punish its leadership. But motive of the transaction with North Korea is not known, the officials noted.
Trump has sought to rein in North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs this year by crippling its economy, starving its weapons program, and hopefully forcing it to the negotiating table.
According to the European security sources, the Vityaz conducted a ship-to-ship transfer with the North Korean Flagged Sam Ma 2 tanker in open seas during October. North Korea relies on China for almost all of its energy supplies, and China accounts for more than 90 percent of North Korea's total trade volume.
As long as there is enough oil to power their limos, heat their residences, and feed the top echelons of North Korean society, Kim will be impervious to sanctions, making war more and more inevitable.