North Korea reportedly exported at least $270 million worth of commodities to China and other countries including India, Malaysia and Sri Lanka over the six months to early August, in violation of UN sanctions.
UN experts monitoring sanctions said in a report released Saturday that the North continues to flout sanctions on commodities as well as an arms embargo and restrictions on shipping and financial activities.
Following China’s suspension of coal imports from the North in February, it has been rerouting coal to other countries, including Malaysia and Vietnam.
When it comes to financial sanctions, experts have said the communist state continues to evade and violate them in a number of ways.
British daily the Telegraph reported on Saturday that North Korea’s sudden advancement in developing nuclear weapons may be due to secret support from Iran.
The daily said the Foreign Office is investigating whether “current and former nuclear states” helped North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in his drive to mount nuclear warheads on missiles.
The international community is putting pressure on North Korea.
According to the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday, 68 countries and seven international bodies strongly condemned the latest and strongest yet North Korean nuclear bomb test, as of Wednesday.
The Mexican government on Thursday declared the North Korean ambassador to Mexico persona non grata in protest against the country’s nuclear tests.
The government said it had given Kim Hyong-gil 72 hours to leave Mexico in order to express its “absolute rejection” of North Korea’s nuclear activity.
It was an unusually firm step by Mexico that moved closely in line with Washington.
The Philippines has temporarily cut bilateral trade relations with North Korea in compliance with UN Security Council resolutions.
The Philippines, which is this year’s chairman of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations, is the fifth-largest exporter to North Korea.
In a joint statement Thursday, the foreign ministers of the ASEAN members expressed grave concern about the recent North Korean “hydrogen bomb” test.
The European Union has taken a position to tighten its pressure on Pyongyang through additional sanctions.
The UN has strengthened sanctions on the North each time it has threatened the world with nuclear and missile provocations. And yet the North has escalated the level of provocations, getting closer and closer to nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles.
This has been made possible because the North managed to earn the money needed to carry out its nuclear and missile programs by evading sanctions.
To stop the North from completing the programs, the UN must raise the effectiveness of its sanctions to cut off the flow of money into the North.
The starting point must be the international community’s thorough investigations into suspected North Korean trade, and loopholes the North may utilize should be eliminated accordingly.
The UN Security Council should investigate shady deals involving the North and take appropriate actions to block illegal financial support to the communist state.
If the international community’s concerted efforts should succeed, there must be no exception. The roles of China and Russia in particular are essential. Their negative attitude on sanctions will only cripple efforts to prevent the North from flouting its commitments under UN Security Council resolutions. Both China and Russia should look squarely at the reality of the international community putting pressure on the North.
A British government minister said North Korean scientists are people of some ability, but clearly they are not working entirely in a vacuum.
That is an accurate point.
Watertight pressure to block the flow of funds, technology and resources needed for the North’s nuclear and missile programs is the most realistic and feasible solution.
If the links between North Korea and other countries that helped it in violation of UN sanctions are ascertained, new ways to isolate and pressure Kim’s regime diplomatically will be opened up to the international community.