SEOUL, South Korea, Dec. 4 (UPI) — Oil prices in North Korea have fallen substantially from record-high levels in early November, due to massive imports from Russia, Radio Free Asia reported Sunday.
The U.S. based broadcaster cited a report by Asia Press International, saying that a kilogram of diesel had recently dipped by more than 60 percent on month to 6,765 North Korean won, which amounts to less than a dollar.
The price of gasoline was also lower, costing less than $2, down by 25 percent from the previous month.
The report attributed the tumbling prices to large volumes of fuel imported from Russia, despite United Nations sanctions aimed to cut the North’s oil imports.
Following the regime’s sixth nuclear test in September, the United States wanted a ban on all oil flowing into Pyongyang.
However, the U.N. Security Council resolution 2375 resorted to capping the regime’s fuel imports by 30 percent, to secure support from Moscow and Beijing, which hold political and economic ties with the North.
In September, a South Korea unification ministry official reported that North Korean gas prices had skyrocketed.
Russia’s trade with North Korea in the first quarter of this year more than doubled from a year earlier, hitting $31.4 million.
Also, some 40,000 North Koreans are working in Russia to earn foreign currency for the regime.
While Resolution 2375 prohibits member states giving or extending work permits for North Korean workers, a Yonhap News report says Moscow seems unlikely to make huge cutbacks on its source of cheap labor.
The Seoul-based news agency on Friday cited Russian government sources as saying that most North Korean migrants had received a two-year work permit in November last year.
Some of them had also extended their working contracts into long-term ones before the resolution was adopted in September.
Russia has long opposed stringent economic sanctions on the North, arguing that the measures shouldn’t affect average North Koreans.