North Korea Evades Sanctions With Elaborate Smuggling Strategy
North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile program remains in tact while the country continues to defy United Nations resolutions with significantly increased illegal ship-to-ship oil and coal transfers, a UN Panel of Experts wrote in an annual report published this week.
“These violations render the latest United Nations sanctions ineffective by flouting the caps on the import of petroleum products and crude oil by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as well as the coal ban, imposed in 2017 by the Security Council in response to the country’s unprecedented nuclear and ballistic missile testing,” the UN report reads.
“Global banks and insurance companies continue to unwittingly facilitate payments and provide coverage for vessels involved in ever-larger, multi-million-dollar, illegal ship-to ship transfers of petroleum products, as well as an increasing number of ship-to-ship coal transfers and attempted transshipments,” according to the report.
North Korea is using increasingly advanced and inventive techniques to evade the oil sanctions, including manipulation of vessel AIS transmission systems, physical disguise of tankers, illegal name-changing and other forms of identity fraud, night transfers, and the use of additional vessels for transshipment, the panel of experts said in the report.
“They’re using more sophisticated methods. They’re becoming cleverer,” the head of the U.N. panel of experts, Hugh Griffiths said.
North Korea also “continues to violate the arms embargo and has attempted to supply small arms and light weapons and other military equipment to Houthi rebels in Yemen, as well as to Libya and the Sudan, via foreign intermediaries, including Syrian arms trafficker Hussein al-Ali in the case of the Houthi rebels,” the UN experts say.
The United States welcomed the release of the report, saying that it “demonstrates the need for continued vigilance against entities involved in D.P.R.K. sanctions evasion activity.”
“International unity in implementing these sanctions continues to hamper the D.P.R.K.’s ability to further its illegal weapons of mass destruction programs and sends the message that the D.P.R.K. will be economically and diplomatically isolated until it denuclearizes,” Robert Palladino, Deputy Spokesperson at the U.S. Department of State, said.