North Korea flouts UN sanctions

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Countries involved in trade with the rogue state include China, Russia and Malaysia.

North Korea earned almost $200 million from exporting coal and other banned commodities previous year in violation of UN sanctions, according to a new United Nations report.

The UN Security Council in 2016 and 2017 adopted a series of resolutions to expand bans on North Korea exports created to cut off revenue to Pyongyang's nuclear and ballistic missile programs. It then banned all exports of coal by North Korea on 5 August.

The investigations reveal "substantial new evidence" concerning Pyongyang's military cooperation with Damascus, including at least 3 visits by North Korean technicians to Syria in 2016.

The latest UN sanctions, announced in December, were estimated to reduce the nation's petrol imports by up to 90%.

A member state, which also remained unnamed, notified the panel that Myanmar had received "ballistic missile systems from [North Korea] in addition to a range of conventional weapons, including multiple rocket launches and surface-to-air missiles".

This sanction came after President Donald Trump signed an executive order in September that sought to isolate North Korea from the global banking system while adding more pressure on its main industry and shipping, The New York Times reported.

North Korea is also said to have supplied weapons to Syria and Myanmar, including materials for ballistic weapons technology and chemical weapons manufacturing. Syria agreed to destroy its chemical weapons in 2013.

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North Korea has sold weapons to Syria and Myanmar, according to a draft United Nations report quoted by US media on Friday which also accused China and Russian Federation of failing to do enough to curb the country's illegal trade.

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 experts said North Korea also exported $125 million of iron ore to China previous year in violation of sanctions. The isolated dictatorship remains under strict United Nations sanctions targeting its raw material exports. The coal cargo "would constitute a violation of the resolution, if confirmed".

"The DPRK combined deceptive navigation patterns, signals manipulation, transshipments as well as fraudulent documentation to obscure the origin of the coal", the monitors said.

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 document stated.

The UN monitors "also investigated cases of ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products in violation (of UN sanctions). and found that the network behind these vessels is primarily based in Taiwan province of China".

The panel revealed that more than 40 unreported shipments from North Korea between 2012 and 2017 went to front companies for Syria's Scientific Studies Research Council, a key institute for Syria's chemical programme.

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