United Nations: North Korea illegally exporting commodities

The UN says says North Korea continues to flout sanctions on commodities, an arms embargo and shipping and financial restrictions.


North Korea illegally exported coal, iron and other commodities worth at least $US270 million to China and other countries including India, Malaysia and Sri Lanka during the six-month period ending in August in violation of UN sanctions.

A UN report released on Saturday by the experts monitoring sanctions says Kim Jong Un's government continues to flout sanctions on commodities, an arms embargo and shipping and financial restrictions.

The experts say North Korea is also reportedly continuing prohibited nuclear activities with weapons-grade fissile material production at the Yongbyon nuclear complex, as well as construction at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site and a uranium mine in Pyongsan.

The panel said it is investigating the involvement of North Koreans in prohibited activities in Africa and Syria, "including their involvement in prohibited activities".

The experts said one inquiry is into "reported prohibited chemical, ballistic missile and conventional arms co-operation" between Syria and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. They said this includes activities on Syrian Scud missile programs and "maintenance and repair of Syrian surface-to-air missiles (SAM) air defence systems".

The panel noted that two unnamed countries reported intercepting shipments destined for Syria. It did not identify the contents and said Syria has yet to respond to its inquiries.

The 111-page report was written before North Korea's sixth and most powerful nuclear test last Sunday and its latest launch of a powerful new intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan.

On the export of commodities - a key source of foreign exchange for the DPRK - the experts said that following China's suspension of coal imports from the North in February, the DPRK has been rerouting coal to other countries including Malaysia and Vietnam.

"The panel's investigations reveal that the DPRK is deliberately using indirect channels to export prohibited commodities, evading sanctions," the report said.

The panel said imports of DPRK coal, iron and iron ore violate UN sanctions unless the countries have received an exemption.

Between December 2016 and May 2017, for example, the DPRK exported over $US79 million of iron ore to China, the report said. And between October 2016 and May 2017, it exported iron and steel products to Egypt, China, France, India, Ireland and Mexico valued at $US305,713.

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