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China misses deadline for reporting N.K. coal imports

All Headlines 14:17 February 02, 2017

SEOUL, Feb. 2 (Yonhap) -- China has yet to submit data on its coal imports from North Korea to the United Nations three days after the deadline set by the latest sanctions resolution.

Under the Nov. 30 resolution adopted by the UN Security Council in response to the North's fifth nuclear test in September, member countries were required to notify the sanctions committee by Jan. 30 of how much coal they imported from the North during the Nov. 30-Dec. 31 period.

Resolution 2321 banned the member states from buying North Korean coal, a key source of its hard currency, in excess of US$53.49 million or 1 million tons in December. The annual ceilings for 2017 were set at $400.87 million or 7.5 million tons.

The monthly data were asked to be compiled at the end of the following month. China imports most of its coal from the North.

According to China's customs agency data, Beijing imported around 2 million tons of North Korean coal in December, twice the ceiling set by the UN committee. This also marked a 13-percent hike from the same period a year earlier.

As of Thursday, no import data have been posted on the section that the committee opened on its website to make up-to-date information about the transactions available.

The Italian mission to the U.N., which chairs the committee, confirmed no member countries, including China, have reported their coal import data, according to the Voice of America.

Some speculate that it might be an intentional procrastination amid China's growing friction with the Donald Trump administration. Its displeasure with the planned THAAD deployment by the U.S. to South Korea was also cited as a possible factor.

However, given China's repeated assurances that it will faithfully carry out the sanctions and its decision to temporarily ban coal imports from the North in mid-December, experts believe that the delay might have been caused just by procedural problems.

"China has affirmed its commitment to implementing the UNSC resolution over and over again," a foreign ministry official here said. "Though it seems that China has missed the deadline, (we) expect that it will eventually submit coal import data to the committee."

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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