North Korea earns $200 million from exports in 2017, violating United Nations sanctions

North Korea violated United Nations sanctions to earn almost $200 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. United Nations monitors say they found 15 shipments of coal from North Korea to Russia, China, South Korea, Malaysia, and Vietnam that violated United Nations caps on North Korean coal exports between January and August of a year ago.

To obstruct funding to Pyongyang's nuclear and ballistic missiles program, the global community has enforced restrictive economic measures. Multiple sanctions dating back to 2006 have tried to choke off funding for the nuclear and missile programs.

A confidential report prepared by independent United Nations monitors and seen by Reuters on Friday also states North Korea supplied weapons-including ballistic missile systems-to Syria and Myanmar.

The Security Council a year ago adopted a series of resolutions to tighten and expand exports bans aimed at cutting off revenue to North Korea's military programmes.

The report said there was not enough "political will" and coordination to ensure sanctions were fully working. In addition, Pyongyang reportedly traded arms with Syria and Myanmar. In 2013, Panamanian forces confiscated a North Korea-flagged ship after undeclared Cuban weapons and fighter jets from the Soviet era were found under sacks of sugar. Its content is created separately from USA TODAY. "We found that the ships mentioned did not enter our ports, or if they did, then they were carrying cargo that had nothing to do with North Korea", he is cited as saying.

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"The DPRK 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 United Nations monitors wrote in the 213-page report, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Despite a 2016 U.N. Security Council resolution that capped coal exports and demanded countries report any imports of North Korean coal since August 5, the U.N. monitors inspected 23 coal shipments to ports in China, Russia, China, South Korea and Vietnam after that date.

North Korea has received similar economic sanctions.

These range from banning coal, iron, lead, textiles and seafood to capping crude-oil and refined petroleum products' imports. The UN monitors said all those shipments "would constitute a violation of the resolution, if confirmed".

Investigators looked at 40 previously unreported North Korean shipments between 2012 and 2017 to Syria's Scientific Studies and Research Centre, a body which oversees the country's chemical weapons program.

  • Marjorie Miles