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18:03 8 February 2017

N. Korea tactically evading sanctions on large scale: U.N. report

By Seana K. Magee
NEW YORK, Feb. 8, Kyodo

North Korea is increasing the scale and refinement of the tactics it uses to evade international sanctions, particularly in the lucrative trade in military technology, according to a summary of a U.N. experts' report obtained by Kyodo News.

The country's movement of illicit ammunition, weapons and natural resources continues to prop up the regime of Kim Jong Un. The report blames a lack of political will on the part of the international community in effectively enforcing the implementation of sanctions.

"The DPRK is flouting sanctions through trade in prohibited goods with evasion techniques that are increasing in scale, scope and sophistication," the report reads. DPRK stands for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"(The sanctions implementation) effort has not yet been matched by the requisite political will, prioritization and resource allocation to ensure effective implementation," the summary warned.

According to the report, the problem was laid bare when in August the largest shipment of ammunition in the sanctions period was discovered.

Maritime databases, which track vessels, indicated that the Cambodian-flagged ship reached a port in Egypt.

"An interdiction of the vessel Jie Shun was the largest seizure of ammunition in DPRK sanctions history," according to the document.

A source informed Kyodo News the Egyptian port was not the general cargo ship's final destination, despite its strategic location near a number of regional conflict hot spots. However, the report said that seizures like it demonstrate "the country's use of concealment techniques as well as an emerging nexus between DPRK entities trading in arms and minerals."

The trade in minerals is also a valuable source of funding for North Korea despite it being specifically prohibited from supplying or transferring by sea or air from its territory minerals, such as gold, copper, nickel, silver, zinc and rare earth minerals.

Although bans on trade in minerals were adopted for the first time in 2016, the report points out there are various interpretations of the minerals that are listed, and countries utilize exemption clauses in different ways, effectively circumventing bans.

The summary also points out that North Korean entities and banks continue to operate by using agents who are "highly experienced and well-trained" in moving money, people and goods, which include arms and related materials, across borders.

They include agents who are foreigners working as facilitators for North Korea utilizing front companies.

"Their ability to conceal financial activity by using foreign nationals and entities allows them to continue to transact through top global financial centers," the document states.

The annual report is produced by a panel of experts under the U.N. Security Council's sanctions committee on North Korea. The panel also makes recommendations to improve implementation of the resolutions.

Since 2006 when the first underground nuclear test was detonated, the isolated country has been subject to six rounds of sanctions.

On Nov. 30, the Security Council adopted the most recent and harshest resolution for the fifth test that took place in September. It was aimed at hitting coal, the cash-strapped country's largest export, in an effort to cut off funding sources for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Before the report is publicly released, it must be adopted by consensus at the next sanctions committee meeting, which is to be held next week. Once adopted it is then circulated to the Security Council and later made public.


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