North Korea’s nuclear programme has not been halted, says UN

The Guardian Associated Press
4 Aug 2018 08.16 EDT

Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump meeting in Singapore
Many diplomats had credited UN sanctions as well as the Singapore summit between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump with helping relations in the Korean peninsula. Photograph: Susan Walsh/AP

North Korea has not stopped its nuclear and missile programmes and is violating United Nations sanctions, UN experts have said in a report.

A summary of the report, which was sent to the security council on Friday night and obtained by the Associated Press, said North Korea was also violating sanctions by transferring coal at sea and flouting an arms embargo and financial measures.

The panel of experts said Pyongyang had attempted to sell small arms, light weapons and other military equipment via foreign intermediaries, including Syrian arms traffickers in the case of Houthi Shia rebels in Yemen as well as Libya and Sudan. They also said the country had continued military cooperation with Syria, in breach of the UN sanctions.

The panel said it was continuing to investigate sanctioned individuals, companies and other entities in Asia that clandestinely procured centrifuges for North Korea’s nuclear programme and attempted to sell a wide range of military equipment to governments and armed groups in the Middle East and Africa.

The security council first imposed sanctions on North Korea after its first nuclear test in 2006 and has made them tougher in response to further nuclear tests and its increasingly sophisticated ballistic missile programme.

Many diplomats and analysts credit the sanctions, which have sharply cut North Korea’s exports and imports, with helping to promote the thaw in relations between Pyongyang and Seoul, and the June meeting between the US president, Donald Trump, and the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.

These include turning off automatic identification systems, which are required to be on at all times under international regulations, physically disguising North Korean tankers, using small unregistered vessels, illegally changing names, carrying out night transfers and using additional vessels to trans-ship cargo, the report said.

US documents sent to the security council committee monitoring the sanctions cite 89 instances between 1 January and 30 May, in which North Korean tankers were likely to have delivered refined products “illicitly procured” via ship-to-ship transfers.

The documents say that even if each tanker delivered only a third of its listed capacity, the total volume would be above the 500,000 barrel annual quota. If loaded at about 90% , the US said the tankers would have delivered nearly 1.4m barrels of refined products to North Korea, almost triple the quota.

The experts said if the report was accurate, North Korea would be violating sanctions and all countries “would have to immediately halt all such transfers”.

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