On Tuesday, the United Nations Panel of Experts on North Korea released its latest report, detailing advances in the country’s capabilities and the extent to which the international sanctions regime toward the country was being implemented.
As in recent years, the Panel found a range of North Korean activities designed to evade and violate international sanctions. North Korean individuals and entities, as well as individuals and entities in other United Nations member states, were implicated in the activities.
The Panel’s report, more than 300 pages total, details ongoing sanctions evasion activities by North Korea at sea, using ship-to-ship transfers of coal, oil, and other goods. The United States, Japan, and other states have published images of such activity by North Korean and third-country vessels off the Korean Peninsula and elsewhere.
“Financial sanctions remain some of the most poorly implemented and actively evaded measures of the sanctions regime,” the Panel observed. It further added that “Individuals empowered to act as extensions of financial institutions of [North Korea] operate in at least five countries with seeming impunity.”
The five countries identified by the Panel included “China, Libya, the Russian Federation, the Syrian Arab Republic and the United Arab Emirates.”
The latest Panel report also examined North Korea’s ongoing conventional weapons sales overseas. It identified a Syrian national involved in arms trafficking named Hussein Al-Ali, who worked with North Korea to procure weapons for entities in the region, including Yemen’s Houthis.
“The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea 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 Panel noted.
The report also underscored “efforts” by North Korean governmental entities to supply “a wide array of conventional arms and ballistic missiles to the Houthi group in Yemen.”
North Korea has long criticized international sanctions as unjust. In Hanoi, Vietnam, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met U.S. President Donald J. Trump and sought U.S. support for the lifting of sanctions relating to its “civilian” economy across the five most recent Security Council resolutions passed in 2016 and 2017.
The United Nations sanctions regime on North Korea ranges across eleven resolutions beginning with resolution 1718, which was passed after the country’s first nuclear test in 2006. Subsequent North Korean provocations, including satellite launches, intercontinental-range ballistic missile launches, and other nuclear tests resulted in additional sanctions resolutions.