Photo: Army-People Rallies Hail Success in H-bomb Test. Credit: The Rodong Sinmun. - Photo: 2017

UN Panel Remains Sceptical about Sanctions on North Korea

By Ramesh Jaura

BERLIN | NEW YORK (IDN) – Six days before the UN Security Council unanimously agreed to impose harsher sanctions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), it received a far from encouraging report on the implementation of sanctions slammed so far.

The report submitted to the Council on September 5 by the UN Panel of Experts monitoring the implementation of Security Council sanctions against North Korea says: “Lax enforcement of the sanctions regime coupled with the country’s evolving evasion techniques are undermining the goals of the resolutions that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea abandon all weapons of mass destruction and cease all related programmes and activities.”

It adds: “Despite an increased rate of Member States’ submission of national implementation reports to the Security Council, the actual implementation of the sanctions lags far behind what is necessary to achieve the core goal of denuclearization.”

These remarks reaffirm the gist of the UN Panel’s report in February 2017, which said: “The unprecedented frequency and intensity of the nuclear and ballistic missile tests helped the country to achieve technological milestones in weapons of mass destruction capability, and all indications are that this pace will continue.” It predicted: “The stated goals of the resolutions of achieving denuclearization and a peaceful solution to the situation seem increasingly remote.”

The UN Panel of Experts’ latest report says: “The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has made significant technological advances in its weapons of mass destruction capability in defiance of the most comprehensive and targeted sanctions regime in United Nations history.”

It adds: “Following two nuclear tests in 2016 which led to the adoption of resolutions 2270 (2016) and 2321 (2016), the country has greatly accelerated its ballistic missile testing schedule with as many as 14 launches in 2017, including two reported intercontinental ballistic missile launches.”

The UN Panel notes that, in 2017, the DPRK tested “new ballistic missile systems showing significant progress in diversification of systems, range, and a shortened time span between unveiling and testing new missiles, adding: “The country is reportedly continuing prohibited nuclear activities with weapons-grade fissile material production at Yongbyon and construction and maintenance at Punggye-ri (North Korea’s only known nuclear test site).”

According to the UN Panel, the DPRK continues to flout the arms embargo and robust financial and sectoral sanctions through the export of almost all of the commodities prohibited in the Security Council resolutions, generating at least $270 million in revenue during the period from February 2 to August 5, 2017, “showing that as the sanctions regime expands, so does the scope of evasion.”

The Panel coordinated by the UK’s Hugh Griffiths of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) comprises: Benoit Camguilhem, Dmitry Kiku, Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt, Youngwan Kim, Maiko Takeuchi, Neil Watts, and Jiahu Zong.

The UN Panel’s latest report notes, the DPRK continues to violate the financial sanctions by stationing agents abroad to execute financial transactions on behalf of national entities. “Financial institutions in numerous Member States wittingly and unwittingly have provided correspondent banking services to front companies and individuals of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea engaged in prohibited activities.”

Moreover, foreign companies maintain links with financial institutions of the country established as subsidiaries or joint ventures in violation of the resolutions. “Involvement of diplomatic personnel of the DPRK in commercial activities and the leasing of embassy property generate substantial revenue and are aided by multiple deceptive financial practices,” says the report.

Among the countries the Panel mentions are: Bulgaria, Germany, Poland and Romania. Germany, says the report, has taken necessary steps to halt the DPRK diplomats’ such activities.

These illicit financial activities, the UN Panel says, benefit from the lack of appropriate domestic legal and regulatory frameworks which would give effect to the resolutions, including in many States in Asia.

As a case in point, the report says: Following China’s suspension of coal imports from the country in February 2017, the DPRK has been rerouting coal to other Member States including Malaysia and Viet Nam, and has shipped coal through third countries. The Panel’s investigations reveal that the country is deliberately using indirect channels to export prohibited commodities, evading sanctions.

“The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, led by its Maritime Administration Bureau, continued to hone its evasion tactics as Member States took action to reduce the number of the country’s vessels under foreign flags.” This has also led to an increase of the DPRK’s Korea-flagged vessels, many of which are formally owned or operated by foreign companies in violation of the resolutions.”

The Panel informs that it continues to investigate “the widespread presence of nationals of the DPRK in Africa and the Middle East, particularly in the Syrian Arab Republic, acting on behalf of or at the direction of designated entities, including their involvement in prohibited activities such as trade in surface-to-air missile systems.”

The pursuit of nuclear and ballistic missile programmes by the DPRK appears likely to continue at a rapid pace, says the Panel, judging by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s statements, including his 2017 New Year’s address in which he claimed that “in 2016 the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea achieved the status of a nuclear power, … conducted the first H-bomb test, test-firing of various means of strike and nuclear warhead test” and “entered the final stage of preparation for the test launch of intercontinental ballistic missile.”

Apparently responding to some suggestions by the UN Panel, the Security Council decided on September 11 to impose a raft of new sanctions on the DPRK – including a ban on the sale of natural gas liquids to the North-East Asian nation, and on its textile exports – while also prohibiting Member States from providing work authorizations to its nationals.

By the terms of resolution 2375 (2017), the Council condemned in the strongest terms Pyongyang’s nuclear test of September 2, saying that action stood “in flagrant disregard” of its resolutions, and reaffirmed that the DPRK must immediately suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile and nuclear programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.

Among the new sanctions imposed is a ban on the supply, sale or transfer of all condensates and natural gas liquids to the DPRK, as well as a ban on its exports of textiles such as fabrics and apparel products.

The Council further decided that all Member States would prohibit the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer to Pyongyang of all refined petroleum products beyond 500,000 barrels during an initial period of three months – beginning on October 1, 2017 and ending on December 31, 2017 – and exceeding 2 million barrels per year during a period of 12 months beginning on January 1, 2018 and annually thereafter.

In addition, Member States would not supply, sell or transfer crude oil to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in excess of the amount supplied, sold or transferred by that State in the 12-month period prior to the adoption of the resolution. On September 11.

Further, the Council decided to extend a number of existing sanctions, including the freezing of one additional individual’s assets, and both a travel ban and assets freeze to be imposed on three additional entities, both annexed to the text. [IDN-InDepthNews – 12 September 2017]

Related article > Serious Doubts Whether Sanctions Against DPRK Are Effective

Photo: Army-People Rallies Hail Success in H-bomb Test. Credit: The Rodong Sinmun.

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate. –

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