UN Report: North Korea Defies UN Sanctions

Posted July 3rd, 2012 at 7:40 am (UTC-5)
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A United Nations report has concluded that North Korea continues to “actively defy” international sanctions by attempting to ship arms to Burma and Syria and by importing luxury goods.

The report by a panel of experts says U.N. sanctions imposed on North Korea following nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009 have slowed but failed to halt banned activities.

But the panel said it has received no new reports of violations involving the transfer of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons or ballistic missiles.

The 74-page report was submitted last month to the Security Council, but its release was delayed because of objections from China, which is thought to be a main transit hub for the illicit goods.

Denny Roy, a senior fellow at the Hawaii-based East-West Center, tells VOA that China is not trying very hard to enforce international sanctions, which are aimed at preventing Pyongyang from obtaining materials needed for its nuclear and weapons programs.

“I think that people who study the issue have concluded long ago that China's interests for North Korea are different enough from the United States and South Korea that it is not a very promising prospect to expect that China will help enforce the sanctions.”

But Nick Bisley, a Korean watcher at Australia's Latrobe University, says it is a good sign that China eventually allowed the Security Council to publish the report.

“What's interesting is that China has allowed the report to be published so that one conclusion you could draw from this is that China is perhaps a little more in tune with general U.N. thinking about North Korea than it has been in the past.”

The report also says that new KN-08 ballistic missiles seen at an April North Korean military parade may be fakes. The missiles were carried by a new, larger transporter that the panel of exports is also investigating.

Media reports and experts have said that North Korea is incapable of producing such a missile transporter, saying the 16-wheel vehicle may have been imported from China — an accusation that Beijing has denied.

The report also cites several cases of attempted shipments of arms-related material to Burma and Syria. It details a shipment of weapons-related material headed for Syria through China that was seized in 2007. And it also lists luxury goods — including used Mercedes-Benz cars, tobacco and alcohol — that have reached North Korea despite the sanctions.