Even though the U.N. Security Council will adopt a stern sanctions resolution, no effect will be generated unless countries cooperate to implement the resolution. It is necessary to block North Korea from earning foreign currency that is diverted to its nuclear and missile development.
A midterm report compiled by a panel of experts under the U.N. Security Council’s sanctions committee on North Korea has drawn renewed attention to loopholes in the U.N. sanctions scheme. It is significant that Italy’s U.N. ambassador, who chairs the committee, has pointed out that North Korea remains capable of evading the sanctions.
During the period from December last year to May this year, Pyongyang is said to have earned about ¥30 billion in foreign currency from exporting coal, iron ore and other resources, trade in which has been restricted under U.N. resolutions. After China halted its coal trade with North Korea in February, Pyongyang switched its coal export destinations to Malaysia and Vietnam.
To hide the fact that the coal is from North Korea, the resource has been exported through third countries or disguised as different items, in many cases. Relevant countries should strengthen measures to counter North Korea’s sanction-evading tactics.
North Korea is suspected of having received some forms of compensation in return for its agents providing training to presidential security services, military, police and other bodies in Angola and Uganda. It has also been reported that Syria conducted arms trade with North Korea.
It is alarming that the precise picture of such transactions is unknown. Out of 193 U.N. member states, only 78 countries have submitted to the panel of experts their resolution implementation reports. Japan, the United States and South Korea are urged to ramp up pressure on other countries to facilitate implementation of sanctions resolutions.
Strengthen U.N. surveillance
It also cannot be overlooked that North Korea has dispatched laborers abroad to unjustifiably earn foreign currency. The existing sanctions have only called for a ban on newly accepting North Korean workers.
According to an estimate by a South Korean research institute and others, more than 100,000 North Koreans work abroad. North Korean authorities are said to have earned more than $1 billion a year by taking commissions from them. While most overseas North Koreans work in China and Russia, labor dispatches have also extended to Middle Eastern countries like Kuwait and Eastern European states.
The U.S. government has urged countries to send such workers back to North Korea. As part of efforts to reinforce the sanctions, the European Union has also begun considering a limit to the entry of North Korean workers.
The United States has drafted a new sanctions resolution at the U.N. Security Council that includes a total ban on the employment of North Korean workers, together with an embargo on crude oil, refined petroleum products and natural gas. It is crucial to shut off the entry and exit of North Korean workers, including those who earn foreign currency without work permits.
North Korea has been involved in the trade of counterfeit bills, drug trafficking and money laundering. Such illegally earned money has supported the reckless deeds of the Kim Jong Un regime. The U.N. surveillance system on North Korea should be strengthened in parallel with the reinforcement of sanctions.