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North Korea Sold Weapons to Syria and Myanmar
05 February 2018, 06:14 | Violet Powell
Pic ReutersUNITED NATIONS
North Korea violated United Nations sanctions to earn almost US$200 million (S$261 million) in 2017 from banned commodity exports, according to a confidential report by independent UN monitors, which also accused Pyongyang of supplying weapons to Syria and Myanmar. But that's not all. Countries involved in trade with the rogue state include China, Russia and Malaysia. In September, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed restrictions on eight North Korean banks and 26 people operating in four countries, in an attempt to weaken the Kim Jong Un regime.
The confidential report by a panel of experts said several countries including China, Russia and Malaysia had failed to stop the illegal exports. So far, no country named has fessed up to accepting improper coal shipments.
There was reportedly evidence that the report found that the North was helping Syria to develop chemical weapons and providing ballistic missiles to Myanmar.
The US led the push for tough economic sanctions after North Korea's sixth nuclear test and a series of ballistic missile launches that raised fears that the US mainland could soon be within reach. Coal is also said to have been exported to several countries, including South Korea, using, quote, "a combination of multiple evasion techniques, routes and deceptive tactics".
According to the document obtained by Reuters, a group of independent United Nations monitors is also accusing Pyongyang of providing weapons to Syria and Myanmar.
The Syrian government allegedly used chemical weapons against civilians in 2013 and agreed to destroy its stockpile later that year. It then banned all exports of coal by North Korea on August 5.
Following the revelation, China's embassy in North Korea denied flouting Security Council sanctions and said in a statement that the two neighbours had maintained "normal trade exchanges".
"The network of foreign traders responsible for violations of the coal ban operates through numerous front companies registered in multiple jurisdictions", the committee said. It banned all exports of coal by North Korea on Aug 5, 2017.
The panel found that North Korea "is already flouting the most recent resolutions by exploiting global oil supply chains, complicit foreign nationals, offshore company registries, and the worldwide banking system".
The monitors said one country, which they did not name, told them North Korea had carried out such transfers off its ports of Wonsan and Nampo and in global waters between the Yellow Sea and East China Sea between October and January.
The UN monitors also investigated ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products, violating UN sanctions.
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