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Almost 50 countries are violating international sanctions against North Korea at a time when the U.S. is trying to isolate the rogue regime of Kim Jong Un, according to a new report by the Institute For Science And International Security.
The United Nations Security Council has imposed sanctions against North Korea in recent years in order to apply pressure on the hermit kingdom to abandon the development of its nuclear weapons program. But the North Korean regime has become adept at avoiding sanctions and finding countries that are willing to do business with it, the report notes.
“In its efforts to further its nuclear, missile and conventional military programs, North Korea seeks to undermine international sanctions and the export control laws of other countries. It has long attempted to find sympathetic governments or countries with weak or nonexistent export controls that will supply these programs or be more conducive to military and commercial cooperation,” the report’s authors write.
“North Korea also targets states that are otherwise strong enforcers of export controls and uses deceptive methods, such as front companies or actors to bypass these countries’ export control laws.”
Bellicose rhetoric between President Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong UN has reached a fever pitch in recent months, especially as North Korea flexed its military muscles and demonstrated that it has an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching anywhere in the United States.
In response, new sanctions were levied against North Korea’s fuel and textile sectors in September. U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, also has called on all countries to “cut off trade with the regime by stopping all imports and exports,” and expelling all North Korean workers.
But Tuesday’s report shows that there are still many countries willing to do business with North Korea.
At least 13 governments were discovered to have violated sanctions against North Korea in military-related cases, including exporting military equipment to North Korea. Angola, Cuba, Iran, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Syria, and Uganda were just some of the countries included on the list.
Nineteen countries also were involved in non-military cases of sanctions violations that involved doing business with North Korea or facilitating financial transactions. European countries such as Bulgaria, Germany, Poland and Romania were included in this list, as was Russia.
Meanwhile, eighteen countries, including large economies like India and China, imported sanctioned goods and minerals from North Korea. This large volume of business show how quickly the North Korean regime manages to develop new and sophisticated ways to thwart the sanctions, experts say.
“North Korea's overseas trading networks have developed sophisticated methods for sanctions evasion, often relying on foreign front companies or operating in jurisdictions with weak export control or anti-money laundering laws. Additionally, in past years many countries have lacked either the interest or the technical capacity to fully comply with UN sanctions, leading to uneven enforcement at a global level,” Daniel Wertz, associate director of the National Committee on North Korea, told Newsweek.
“The U.S. has recently put more diplomatic pressure on countries to fully comply with UN Security Council resolutions, and has been increasingly willing to implement unilateral sanctions on third-country entities that have facilitated North Korean sanctions violations,” Wertz continued. “This may lead to greater international compliance with the UN sanctions regime, but I think it is very likely that North Korea's overseas networks are now making their best effort to adapt to the changed circumstances, and to figure out new or alternative ways to evade sanctions.”
For now, it appears there is not much the international community can do except lobby countries to comply with sanctions.
“It’s difficult enough to get all members to sign onto the sanctions, but getting them to implement the sanctions is even more complicated,” Mark Goldberg, an expert on the United Nations, told Newsweek.
“In theory they are all obligated by international law to enforce the sanctions. It’s up to the U.S. to press countries bilaterally to live up to their international obligations."
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