N Korea violated UN sanctions, supplies arms to Syria, Myanmar

Faith Castro
February 5, 2018

In a violation of U.N. sanctions, North Korea exported coal and other banned commodities - earning the country roughly $200 million from the exports past year, according to a new report from the United Nations.

The report included details concerning North Korean coal shipping that was mainly conducted using false documents.

The confidential report, seen by Reuters, said that North Korea "continued to export nearly all the commodities prohibited in the United Nations resolutions between January and September 2017".

The report said North Korea was helping Syria develop chemical weapons and was providing ballistic missiles to Myanmar. Papers showed Russian Federation and China as the origin countries, instead of North Korea.

The latest resolution in December - in response to the launch of a ballistic missile that Pyongyang says is capable of reaching anywhere on the US mainland - sharply lowered limits on North Korea's refined oil imports and authorized the inspection and seizure of ships suspected of smuggling banned items including coal and oil to and from the country.

It said there was evidence of military co-operation with Syria and Myanmar.

Pyongyang has been subject to sanctions in a bid to choke funding for its ballistic and missiles program.

The experts said North Korea is also exploiting "a key vulnerability" which has enabled the country "to easily create front companies offshore in Asian financial centers where they leverage assistance" from other nationals and use the firms to open accounts and move money worldwide.

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Syria agreed to destroy its chemical weapons in 2013.

The Syrian mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the UN report. However, diplomats and weapons inspectors suspect Syria may have secretly maintained or developed a new chemical weapons capability. In September, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed restrictions on eight North Korean banks and 26 people operating in four countries, in an attempt to weaken the Kim Jong Un regime.

The report to the UN Security Council's sanctions committee states these shipments were mostly made by doctoring paperwork to show the coal came from Russian Federation or China.

North Korea also continued its illegal coal exports by combining deceptive navigation patterns, trans-shipment through third countries and fraudulent documentation "to obscure the origin of the coal".

The committee said Malaysia reported one shipment during this time, while the remaining 15 violated sanctions. The coal cargo "would constitute a violation of the resolution, if confirmed".

According to United Nations monitors, a more risky finding was that Myanmar and Syria continued to co-operate with North Korea's main arms exporter, Komid, despite it being on a United Nations sanctions blacklist.

According to the report, several unnamed multinational oil companies are also now being investigated for their alleged role in supplying petroleum products to North Korea.

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