China defends sanctions work after report of NK oil transfer

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Tensions have flared anew over North Korea's ongoing nuclear and missile programmes, pursued in defiance of years of United Nations resolutions.

"Caught RED HANDED - very disappointed that China is allowing oil to go into North Korea", Mr Trump wrote in a post on Twitter.

Trump's tweet came after a South Korean newspaper published what it said were US spy satellite images of Chinese ships selling oil to North Korean ships.

In the interview, Trump said he'd be willing to launch a pre-emptive strike against North Korea if negotiating "like crazy" didn't work.

The U.S. Treasury Department placed six North Korean shipping and trading companies and 20 of their ships on sanctions list on November 21, when it published spy satellite images taken on October 19 showing a ship named Ryesonggang 1 connected to a Chinese vessel.

A White House official and multiple National Security Council officials were unable to explain the President's tweet and did not respond to questions about whether he was referring to the recent reports from South Korea.

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The comments come after South Korean newspaper reported Chinese and North Korean vessels had been illicitly linking up at sea to get oil to North Korea.

"This is a natural outcome of the tightening of the various sanctions against North Korea", Cai Jian, an expert on North Korea at Fudan University in Shanghai, told the news organization.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she had no information following Chosun's report, but said "the Chinese government has been completely and strictly enforcing Security Council resolutions" aimed at discouraging North Korea from developing nuclear and missile technology.

Documents seen by Reuters this month showed Washington called on the Security Council to blacklist 10 ships for circumventing sanctions by conducting ship-to-ship transfers of refined petroleum products to North Korean vessels or transporting North Korean coal. "Our attitude is earnest and serious, and our measures and actions are forceful and effective".

"There is a lot of under-the-radar on the Chinese side", Kelly said.

Trump tweets that he's "been saying it for a long, long time".

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