North Korea continues to test the limits of the rules when it comes to their nuclear program. The UN released a report stating North Korea has breached the sanctions placed on them by the United Nations. Along with the sanctions placed on China, North Korea imported refined petroleum. It exported around $370 million in coal by accepting the helping hand from China’s barges. This was a violation of the sanctions, according to the 67-page report, which will be released to the public next month. The report was sent to the UN Security Council North Korea sanctions committee.
All of this is happening while the US works on resurrecting denuclearization talks between the two nations. Inside the report, it states, “In 2019, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) did not halt its illicit nuclear and ballistic missile programs, which it continued to enhance, in violation of Security Council resolutions. Despite its extensive indigenous capability, it uses illicit external procurement for some components and technology.”
The UN placed these sanctions on North Korea since 2006, and pressure has been added by the 15-member Security Council throughout the years. Its goal was to cut ties with funds and shut down North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Those who monitored the sanctions found that a fresh bid made by North Korea clearly violated the policies within the sanctions. Millions of tonnes of goods were banned from being exported from barges since 2017.
The report continued, “According to a Member State, the DPRK exported 3.7 million metric tons of coal between January and August 2019, with an estimated value of $370 million. According to the Member State, most DPRK coal exports, an estimated 2.8 million metric tons, were conducted via ship-to-ship transfers from DPRK-flagged vessels to Chinese local barges.”
At least $22 million worth of sand was exported to Chinese ports by at least one million tonnes. Both China and Pyongyang say they are implementing the sanctions placed by the UN. The sanction monitors say otherwise.
Those monitors stated that North Korea is continuing to defy the sanctions by illicitly importing refined petroleum. At the same time, they are out in the seas, and transfers are made from ship to ship and also through direct deliveries.
Dating back to 2017, North Korea reported they have only imported 500,000 barrels. The US reported, their imports exceeded the capped limit “many times over.” The tally was taken from January 1 through October 31 of 2019.
Sanctions placed on North Korea were not meant to affect North Korean citizens, but the report from the UN stated, “There can be little doubt that UN sanctions have had unintended effects on the humanitarian situation and aid operations, although access to data and evidence is limited and there is no reliable methodology that disambiguates UN sanctions from other factors.”
China and Russia have fought back against the UN, stating they were concerned North Korean citizens were being affected by the sanctions. Both have supported North Korea and are pushing for ease of restrictions so that nuclear talks would be welcomed between the US and Pyongyang. The response was swift from the US, Britan, and France, saying this is not a good time to lift the sanctions.
North Korea seems to be pulling a stunt out of Iran’s book as they are saying they are no longer subject to sanctions due to the default on the US not allowing more flexibility with the penalties. They are calling the continued sanctions “brutal and inhumane.”
The monitors and the UN report reminded North Korea that they broke the deal first by carrying out 13 missile tests in 2019 and firing off 25 missiles, both submarine-launched ballistic missiles and short-range missiles.
Security monitors stated, “It continued to develop infrastructure and capacity for its missile program.” They also went on to explain how North Korea continued using cyber attacks on financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges all over the world.
The UN report added, “These attacks have resulted in monetary losses and have provided illicit revenue for the DPRK in violation of financial sanctions. These attacks are low-risk, high-reward, difficult to detect, and their increasing sophistication can frustrate attribution.”
It is unknown at this time which way the US will respond to the UN’s findings and reports. They will most likely wait until it is released publicly before doing anything about the situation. Added sanctions are an option, but the playing field is the same as Iran. Neither can be trusted.