Archive for the ‘UN Security Council’ Category

M/V Light returns to DPRK

Monday, June 13th, 2011

According to the New York Times:

The United States Navy intercepted a North Korean ship it suspected of carrying missile technology to Myanmar two weeks ago and, after a standoff at sea and several days of diplomatic pressure from Washington and Asia nations, forced the vessel to return home, according to several senior American officials.

Washington made no announcement about the operation, which paralleled a similar, far more public confrontation with North Korea two years ago. But in response to questions about what appears to be a growing trade in missiles and missile parts between North Korea and Myanmar — two of the world’s most isolated governments — American officials have described the episode as an example of how they can use a combination of naval power and diplomatic pressure to enforce United Nations sanctions imposed after the North’s last nuclear test, in 2009.

It was a rare victory: a similar shipment of suspected missile parts made it to Myanmar last year before American officials could act. Despite the Obama administration’s efforts to squeeze North Korea with both economic and trade sanctions, there are continuing reports of sophisticated missile technology exchanges, some of it by air, between North Korea and Iran, among other nations.

North Korea, aware that shipments leaving the country are under increased scrutiny, has found a profitable trading partner in the authoritarian government in Myanmar.

The extent of that trade is unclear to American intelligence agencies. Two years ago, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton publicly expressed suspicions that Myanmar was attempting to purchase nuclear weapons technology, but it recently said it was too poor to use such technology. And the evidence has been scant at best. (In 2009, India inspected a North Korean ship that was believed to be carrying equipment for a nuclear reactor to Myanmar, but quickly discovered that its contents were legal.)

The most recent episode began after American officials tracked a North Korean cargo ship, the M/V Light, that was believed to have been involved in previous illegal shipments. Suspecting that it was carrying missile components, they dispatched a Navy vessel, the destroyer McCampbell, to track it.

“This case had an interesting wrinkle: the ship was North Korean, but it was flagged in Belize,” one American official said, meaning it was registered in that Central American nation, perhaps to throw off investigators.

But Belize is a member of the Proliferation Security Initiative, an effort begun by President George W. Bush’s administration to sign up countries around the world to interdict suspected unconventional weapons. It is an effort that, like the military and C.I.A. drone programs, Mr. Obama has adopted, and one of the rare areas where he has praised his predecessor.

According to American officials, the authorities in Belize gave permission to the United States to inspect the ship.

On May 26, somewhere south of Shanghai, the McCampbell caught up with the cargo ship and hailed it, asking to board the vessel under the authority given by Belize. Four times, the North Koreans refused.

As in the 2009 case, which involved the North Korean vessel the Kong Nam 1, the White House was unwilling to forcibly board the ship in international waters, fearing a possible firefight and, in the words of one official, a spark “that could ignite the Korean peninsula.” Moreover, the Americans did not have definitive proof of what was in the containers — and a mistake would have been embarrassing.

“There is always a chance that the North is setting us up for a raid that they know will find nothing,” one official said. “So we want to make sure we don’t fall into a trap.”

By happenstance, a group of senior officials from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations — including a representative from Myanmar — was in Washington while the slow-speed chase was occurring 8,000 miles away. On May 27, when the group visited the Old Executive Office Building opposite the White House, Gary Samore, the president’s top nuclear adviser, addressed the officials, urging Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia to fully join the nonproliferation effort.

He then surprised the Asian officials by telling them he had a “sensitive subject” to raise, and described the American suspicions, providing the group with a picture of the ship on its way to Myanmar. He reminded them that under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1874, which was passed in response to the North Korean nuclear test in 2009, its vessels are to be inspected if “reasonable grounds” exist to suspect that weapons are being exported.

“The Burmese official in the room protested that we were making accusations,” said one American official familiar with the exchange. Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has denied stockpiling missiles or buying parts from North Korea. It repeated those denials during recent visits to the country by a midlevel State Department official and by Senator John McCain.

American officials dismiss those denials, pointing to years of evidence of missile-related purchases during both the Bush and Obama administrations. But they concede they are mystified about Myanmar’s motives. The missiles that they believed were aboard the M/V Light have a range of about 350 miles, meaning they could hit parts of India, China, Thailand or Laos — all unlikely targets.

The message apparently got across. A few days later, long before approaching Myanmar, the cargo ship stopped dead in the water. Then it turned back to its home port, tracked by American surveillance planes and satellites, and suffering engine trouble along the way.

And according to the Wall Street Journal:

Under pressure from the U.S. and other countries, a North Korean vessel called the M/V Light turned around in the South China Sea two weeks ago and returned to the North last week, U.S. and South Korean officials said Monday.

Among the countries that agreed to apply pressure was Myanmar, a previous destination for North Korean weapons, a senior U.S. official said. Some reports said the North Korean ship was bound for Myanmar, but the U.S. official, Gary Samore, special assistant to President Barack Obama on weapons of mass destruction, said its final destination wasn’t clear.

“It was headed for the Straits of Malacca, which would have required it to pass between Malaysia and Singapore,” Mr. Samore said. “Since we had alerted the Singaporean and Malaysian authorities, there might have been concern [in Pyongyang] whether it could pass through the straits without action by either of those countries.”

The ship turned around, without the U.S. resorting to force, before reaching the straits.

North Korea’s state media haven’t reported on the latest journey of the M/V Light, keeping with a silence it maintained over previous interceptions of its weapons-ferrying ships and planes.

The incident is unlikely to change the fundamental standoff between North Korea and other nations over its nuclear-weapons program. The U.S., China and other countries have tried to lure North Korea back to the so-called six-party talks, in which Pyongyang has been encouraged to give up its nuclear pursuit in exchange for economic incentives and security guarantees.

Mr. Samore said the multilateral cooperation is a signal to North Korea that other nations remain committed to enforcing the trade limitations set forth by the U.N. Security Council several weeks after Pyongyang tested a nuclear weapon in 2009.

U.S. officials in late May began tracking the M/V Light, and a U.S. Navy destroyer intercepted it on May 26 and followed it down the Chinese coast for several days. Meanwhile, American diplomats won agreement from several southeast Asian nations to stop the ship if it attempted to make port.

U.S. officials also discussed the M/V Light with North Korean officials several times via the North’s U.N. delegation, a so-called back channel the two countries use because they don’t maintain official diplomatic relations.

“The North Koreans claimed the ship was going to Bangladesh with a cargo of industrial chemicals,” Mr. Samore said. “We have no way to verify whether any of that was true. And we had good reason to be suspicious with this ship, which in the past has been involved in the export of weapons to [Myanmar] and other locations in the Middle East.”

Read the full stories here:
U.S. Said to Turn Back North Korea Missile Shipment
New York Times
David Sanger

North Korea Keeps Silent on Ship’s Turnaround
Wall Street Journal
Evan Ramstad


UNSC expands panel of experts mandate

Friday, June 10th, 2011

Here is the press release from the UNSC:

Security Council
6553rd Meeting (AM)



The Security Council this morning extended the mandate of the Panel of Experts helping monitor sanctions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for an additional year, until 12 June 2012.

Acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1985 (2011) maintaining the current mandate of the group that it established in June 2009. At that time, the Council also condemned a nuclear weapons test conducted by the East Asian country and toughened the sanctions regime on it, calling for stricter inspections of cargo suspected of containing banned items related to the country’s nuclear and ballistic missile activities, and tightening the arms embargo and financial restrictions. (See Press Release SC/9634)

Through today’s text, noting the importance of credible, fact-based, independent assessments, analysis and recommendations from the Panel, the Council also presented the group’s reporting and consultation requirements. It urged all States to cooperate with the Panel and the sanctions regime.

The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and ended at 10:14 a.m.


The full text of resolution 1985 (2011) reads as follows:

“The Security Council,

“Recalling its previous relevant resolutions, including resolution 825 (1993), resolution 1540 (2004), resolution 1695 (2006), resolution 1718 (2006), resolution 1874 (2009), resolution 1887 (2009) and resolution 1928 (2010), as well as the statements of its President of 6 October 2006 (S/PRST/2006/41) and 13 April 2009 (S/PRST/2009/7),

“Recalling the creation, pursuant to paragraph 26 of resolution 1874 (2009), of a Panel of Experts, under the direction of the Committee, to carry out the tasks provided for by that paragraph,

“Recalling the 12 November 2010 interim report by the Panel of Experts appointed by the Secretary-General pursuant to paragraph 26 of resolution 1874 (2009) and the 12 May 2011 final report by the Panel,

“Recalling the methodological standards for reports of sanctions monitoring mechanisms contained in the Report of the Informal Working Group of the Security Council on General Issues of Sanctions (S/2006/997),

“Noting, in that regard, the importance of credible, fact-based, independent assessments, analysis and recommendations, in accordance with the Panel of Experts’ mandate,

“Determining that proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, as well as their means of delivery, continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security,

“Acting under Article 41 of Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,

“1. Decides to extend until 12 June 2012 the mandate of the Panel of Experts, as specified in paragraph 26 of resolution 1874 (2009), and requests the Secretary-General to take the necessary administrative measures to this effect;

“2. Requests the Panel of Experts to provide to the Committee no later than 12 November 2011 a midterm report of its work, and further requests that, after a discussion with the Committee, the Panel of Experts submit to the Council its midterm report by 12 December 2011, and requests also a final report to the Committee no later than 30 days prior to the termination of its mandate with its findings and recommendations, and further requests that, after a discussion with the Committee, the Panel of Experts submit to the Council its final report upon termination of the Panel’s mandate;

“3. Requests the Panel of Experts to provide to the Committee a planned programme of work no later than 30 days after the Panel’s appointment, encourages the Committee to engage in regular discussions about this programme of work, and further requests the Panel of Experts to provide to the Committee any updates to this programme of work;

“4. Urges all States, relevant United Nations bodies, and other interested parties to cooperate fully with the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1718 (2006) and with the Panel of Experts, in particular by supplying any information at their disposal on the implementation of the measures imposed by resolution 1718 (2006) and resolution 1874 (2009);

“5. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”

Previous reports by the Panel of Experts can be found here and here.


DPRK selling defective Chinese arms

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

According to Reuters:

North Korea was the supplier of a cache of defective weapons sold to Burundi’s army by a Ukrainian firm, said Western diplomats familiar with the case that has riled Burundi’s anti-corruption body.

The weapons deal with Burundi appeared to be a violation of the international ban on North Korean weapons exports which the U.N. Security Council imposed on Pyongyang in June 2009 after its second nuclear test, the diplomats told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The case involved the supply of some 60 Chinese-made .50-calibre machine guns to Burundi by a Ukrainian firm called Cranford Trading, the diplomats said. The weapons, which were defective, were sold to the firm by North Korea, they added.

Diplomats say Pyongyang continues to try to skirt the arms embargo. Last year South Africa informed the Security Council’s sanctions committee about a seizure of North Korean arms bound for Central Africa.

The expanded sanctions were aimed at cutting off North Korea’s arms sales, a vital export that was estimated to earn the destitute state more than $1 billion a year.

Some facts about the Burundi weapons deal became known late last year when the country’s anti-corruption watchdog went public about irregularities it found. It said that the arms had been defective and that Burundi had been overcharged.

A report on a state audit of the deal, seen by Reuters, concluded that Cranford Trading provided Burundi’s army defective military material with the complicity of former Defense Minister Germain Niyoyanka, current army chief Godefroid Niyombare and his deputy Diomede Ndegeya.

The auditors’ report said that the bidding offer was $3.075 million, while the amount in the contract was for $3.388 million. A further $1.186 million was paid in transport fees, even though such fees were not agreed in the contract.

The auditors concluded that the defense ministry had spent a great deal of money on defective material and recommended the prosecution of all people involved on suspicion of graft.

North Korea was not mentioned in the auditors’ report.

Several officials at Burundi’s U.N. mission in New York declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.


“The weapons were transferred by China to North Korea, which then sold them to Cranford,” a diplomat said, adding that the official documentation for the deal had been incomplete.

“There was no certificate of origin of the weapons, which is necessary to comply with international conventions,” the diplomat added. Another diplomat confirmed the remarks.

The contract between Burundi’s defense ministry and Cranford Trading covered the period between October 2008 through 2010. It was not clear how much North Korea would have received when it sold the defective arms to Cranford Trading.

It was not possible to track down Cranford Trading in Ukraine, since the company was not readily accessible in any public lists. Ukraine’s U.N. mission did not respond to an e-mailed query about Cranford and the arms transaction.

It was not clear when China transferred the weapons to North Korea, or who in China was responsible, or whether the Chinese government had knowledge of the deal.

The U.N. arms embargo does not ban the sale of small arms to Pyongyang, though it does require exporters to notify the Security Council’s North Korea sanctions committee in advance about any small-arms sales to Pyongyang.

If the transfer took place after the latest round of U.N. sanctions were approved in June 2009, the exporter would have been required to notify the sanctions committee.

A spokesman for China’s U.N. mission was not available for comment.

The diplomats said the sanctions committee has not been notified about the Burundi case.

Read the full story here:
Defective Burundi weapons came from N.Korea
Louis Charbonneau


Australia’s ANL cited in DPRK weapons smuggling

Monday, January 10th, 2011

According to The Australian:

The use of an Australian-owned cargo ship to smuggle weapons from North Korea to Iran has been highlighted in a report to the UN.

It was one of several breaches of UN sanctions against Kim Jong-il’s regime detailed in a report to the Security Council.

The report, which was submitted to the council recently after months of obstruction from China, found the North was making $US100 million a year through illegal arms sales to Syria, Iran and Burma.

Pyongyang used shadowy webs of front companies, false manifests and complex routes to try to get around sanctions aimed at stopping its arms proliferation, the investigation found.

The report flags the 2009 interception of the ANL Australia in Sharjah as one of at least four occasions that North Korea was caught out exporting arms or defence equipment.

The report said weapons were seized from the ANL Australia in the United Arab Emirates on July 22, 2009.

The cargo is thought to have included up to 10 containers of arms, including rocket-propelled grenades and trigger mechanisms and propellant, although this is not detailed in the report.

The cargo was packed and sealed in North Korea and shipped to China, where it was loaded aboard the ANL Australia en route to Iran.

The Bahamas-flagged vessel was owned by ANL Container Line at the time.

ANL, once Australia’s national shipping line, was taken over by French company CMA CGM.

Despite the breach of sanctions, an Australian government investigation found ANL was not responsible because the ship was chartered by a foreign company at the time.

“The Australian government’s inquiries into this matter indicated that at all relevant times the vessel was not under the operational control of its owner, but was rather being chartered by a non-Australian company,” a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman said.

“No conduct relevant to the shipment can be attributed to an Australian person or body corporate,” he said.

ANL declined to comment.

The report found that while no ballistic missile or nuclear-related materials emanating from North Korea had been intercepted since sanctions were applied, evidence suggested “continuing DPRK (North Korea) involvement in nuclear and ballistic missile-related activities in certain countries, including Iran, Syria and Myanmar (Burma)”.

“To supplement its foreign earnings, the DPRK has long been involved in illicit and questionable international transactions (including) the surreptitious transfer of nuclear and ballistic missile-related equipment, know-how and technology,” it says.

The panel received government reports suggesting North Korea had helped build Syria’s Dair Alzour nuclear facility (destroyed in 2007 by an Israeli attack) along with details of Japan’s arrest in June 2009 of three individuals trying to illegally export a magnetometer, a device with potential missile-related uses, to Burma.

The report cited in the story is the “Panel of Experts” report to the UNSC.  You can read (and search) it here (PDF).

Read the full story here:
UN cites ANL in N Korea arms smuggling
The Australian
Rick Wallace


UNSC split on cause of Korea tension

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

According to Reuters:

The U.N. Security Council met in emergency session on Sunday to try to cool tensions on the Korean Peninsula, but the five big powers were split on whether to publicly blame North Korea for the crisis.


The 15 Security Council members were meeting behind closed doors to try to agree on a statement that Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said he hoped would send a “restraining signal” to both the North and the South.

Western envoys inside the meeting said the five permanent veto-wielding members were split over whether to blame North Korea for the crisis, as the United States, Britain, and France — along with Japan — demand, or to urge both sides to avoid acts that could deepen the crisis, as Russia and China want.

I have been posting chronological links to Yonpyong stories here.

Read the full story here:
U.N. council split on North Korea statement: diplomats


No yachts for you (UPDATE)

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

UPDATE (12/7/2010): Austrian convicted for yacht sale to DPRK.  According to Reuters:

A Vienna court has fined an Austrian man 3.3 million euros ($4.4 million) over the sale of luxury goods, including yachts, believed destined for North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, a court official said Tuesday.

The businessman, who was not named, was also handed a nine-month suspended sentence late Monday for the dealings which violate an international trade embargo against Kim’s impoverished state, court official Christian Gneist said.

“The amount was 3.3 million euros because this was the amount he received as payment,” Gneist said. The trade violated U.N. sanctions against North Korea imposed over its nuclear bomb tests.

Working with a North Korean intermediary close to Kim, the Viennese man tried to procure two yachts and received payment for them, Gneist said.

Prosecutors also accused him of lining up eight top-end Mercedes-Benz S-Class cars and musical instruments including a Steinway grand piano for Pyongyang, Austrian daily Kurier reported.

The Austrian man pleaded guilty and told the court he had not realized what he was getting into, Kurier said.

“It doesn’t have anything to do with atomic bombs. I am not interested in politics. I am a businessman,” the paper quoted him as telling the court.

Italian financial police helped to break up the sale of the yachts last year, which prosecutors believed to be a birthday present for Kim. The Austrian bought them from the Azimut-Benetti boatyard, one of the world’s leading yachtmakers. Azimut-Benetti was not accused of wrongdoing and had cooperated fully in the investigation, Italian police have said.

The sale of luxury goods to North Korea is banned under a U.N. resolution in retaliation for the country’s nuclear testing program. The U.N. Security Council unanimously voted to widen its sanctions after North Korea’s nuclear test in May last year.

ORIGINAL POST (7/23/2009): According to Reuters (via Washington Post), UN sanctions have prevented the sale of two Italian yachts to the DPRK.  To top it off, the DPRK purchaser lost the deposit!  According to the article:

Financial police in the city of Lucca in central Italy said the vessels were worth nearly 13 million euros ($18 million) and had been purchased by an Austrian intermediary from the Azimut-Benetti boatyard, one of the world’s leading yachtmakers.

The Austrian intermediary then ceded the contract to a Chinese company, which in turn paid a Hong Kong business to take delivery of the vessels, police said.

“The difficulty was tracing it back to a violation of the sanctions,” said Colonel Antonio Leone, the Finance Police’s commander in Lucca. Asked if Kim was the intended final recipient of the vessels, he said: “It is an irrefutable fact.”

“There has been a thorough investigation, partly in Austria, backed up by confessions and investigative breakthroughs.”

The yachts were initially confiscated by Italy’s Economic Development Ministry but have since been returned to the boatyard, which has been allowed to keep the deposit.

Azimut-Benetti is not accused of wrongdoing and has cooperated fully in the investigation, police said.

The sale of luxury goods to North Korea is banned under a U.N. resolution in retaliation for the country’s nuclear testing program. The U.N. Security Council unanimously voted to widen its sanctions after North Korea’s May 25 nuclear test.

Given the complex chain of front companies involved in carrying out this transaction, the application of the UNSC resolution is a great illustration of what Haggard and Noland call “whac a mole“.  The North Koreans will now attempt to reconstitute their trade and proliferation networks using new front companies.  According to Haggard and Noland:

As a small country dependent on foreign trade and investment, North Korea should be highly vulnerable to external economic pressure. In June 2009, following North Korea’s second nuclear test, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1874, broadening existing economic sanctions and tightening their enforcement. However, an unintended consequence of the nuclear crisis has been to push North Korea into closer economic relations with China and other trading partners that show little interest in cooperating with international efforts to pressure North Korea, let alone in supporting sanctions. North Korea appears to have rearranged its external economic relations to reduce any impact that traditional sanctions could have.

Given the extremely high priority the North Korean regime places on its military capacity, it is unlikely that the pressure the world can bring to bear on North Korea will be sufficient to induce the country to surrender its nuclear weapons. The promise of lifting existing sanctions may provide one incentive for a successor government to reassess the country’s military and diplomatic positions, but sanctions alone are unlikely to have a strong effect in the short run. Yet the United States and other countries can still exercise some leverage if they aggressively pursue North Korea’s international financial intermediaries as they have done at times in the past.

Read Haggard’s and Noland’s complete analysis here.

Read the full stories here:
Italy blocks sale of yachts to North Korea’s Kim
Reuters (via Washington Post)

Sanctioning North Korea: The Political Economy of Denuclearization and Proliferation
Peterson Institute Working Paper 09-4
Stephan Haggard and Marcus Noland


Panel report to UNSC under resolution 1874

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Leaked version of the report here (PDF).  Thanks to a reader who apparently got it from Arms Control Wonk.

Information on the report below:

UPDATE 2 (11/10/2010): According ot the Washington Post:

The U.N. Security Council was preparing Tuesday to release a long-delayed report alleging that North Korea may have transferred ballistic-missile and nuclear technology to Syria, Iran and Burma, according to diplomats.

The 75-page report, whose release has been blocked for six months by China, an ally of Pyongyang, reinforces U.S. claims that North Korea has emerged as a key supplier of banned weapons materials to Washington’s greatest rivals.

A copy of the report was seen by The Washington Post.

The findings are based on interviews with several foreign governments, U.N. nuclear inspectors and news media reports.

Those accounts, according to the U.N. report, indicate North Korean “involvement in nuclear ballistic missile related activities in certain other countries, including Iran, Syria and Myanmar,” Burma’s official name.

Nonproliferation experts have been concerned about North Korea for years. In his new memoir, “Decision Points,” former president George W. Bush reveals that, in 2007, U.S. intelligence determined that Syria had built a nuclear reactor with North Korean help. (Israeli jets destroyed the reactor, after then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s request that the United States bomb the facility was rebuffed, Bush recounts, adding that Olmert “hadn’t asked for a green light.”)

In addition to voicing alarm over the reactor in Syria, the seven-member panel that produced the U.N. report said it was investigating “suspicious activity” by a sanctioned North Korean firm in Burma, as well as reports that Japan had arrested three individuals last year for “attempting to illegally export a magnetometer to Myanmar.”

A magnetometer – which has civilian and military uses – is one of numerous items that can be used in the production of a ring magnet, a component in a centrifuge. It can also be used in a missile guidance system.

An earlier version of the U.N. panel report’s findings was reported by the blog Arms Control Wonk. But David Albright, a nuclear weapons expert, said the report’s formal release will be important because it places a U.N. imprimatur on allegations by Western intelligence agencies and independent experts.

“It’s significant that they are saying it,” Albright said.

The earlier move by China to block the report underscores the country’s increasing efforts to prevent the Security Council from vigorously enforcing a broad range of global sanctions that have targeted key Chinese allies, and in some cases, turned up awkward evidence of Chinese arms in some of the world’s most deadly conflict zones. China recently sought to block the release of another U.N. panel report showing that Chinese ammunition has found its way into Darfur, in violation of U.N. sanctions.

Its decision to lift the hold on the report comes two days before President Obama is due to meet Chinese President Hu Jintao in Seoul, where the two leaders are attending a summit of the Group of 20 major economies. The United States has been the strongest proponent of imposing tough U.N. sanctions against North Korea in an effort to persuade the hermetic communist regime to curtail its nuclear ambitions.

China’s press spokesman, Yutong Liu, did not respond to a request for comment.

The Security Council expanded U.N. sanctions against North Korea last year and revived a moribund sanctions panel to ensure the enforcement of measures aimed at curbing North Korean trade in nuclear and ballistic-missile technology. China supported the resolution’s adoption, but it has voiced concern privately over the public disclosure of highly sensitive findings.

UPDATE  1 (11/9/2010): According to Reuters:

After months in limbo due to Chinese objections, a U.N. report suggesting North Korea may have supplied Syria, Iran and Myanmar with banned nuclear technology is heading to the Security Council.

The latest report by the so-called Panel of Experts on Pyongyang’s compliance with U.N. sanctions was delivered to the Security Council’s North Korea sanctions committee in May.

Normally such a report would be reviewed and passed to the council for consideration of possible action. But the report on North Korea did not move for nearly six months due to Chinese objections and its fate was unclear until Friday, council diplomats told Reuters on Monday.

The North Korea report should be published on the sanction committee’s website as early as Tuesday, they said.

The attempt to prevent the report’s transfer to the Security Council and release to the public, envoys said, was emblematic of China’s increasingly self-confident approach to international diplomacy as it seeks to protect states like North Korea and Sudan to which it has close ties.

Reuters reported in May that the report said there was reason to suspect North Korea — under U.N. sanctions for testing nuclear devices in 2006 and 2009 — has become a proliferator of banned technology.

The 75-page document, obtained by Reuters, said the panel was concerned about reports of “continuing DPRK (North Korea) involvement in nuclear and ballistic missile related activities in certain countries including Iran, Syria and Myanmar.”

Last week, China chose to keep silent when the sanctions committee asked its members — the 15 nations on the Security Council — if they had any objections to the report. That allowed it to formally move to the council.

“China has suddenly decided to allow this very damning report to go to the Security Council,” one diplomat said on condition of anonymity. “I think Syria and Myanmar were happy the Chinese were blocking it. Now China has other priorities.”

But China is unlikely to allow the report to be used for further sanctions against Pyongyang, envoys said.


China’s other priorities, diplomats said, include blocking a similar report by another U.N. panel of experts on compliance with an arms embargo for Sudan’s conflict-torn western Darfur region. That report, unlike the one on North Korea, directly implicates China by raising concerns that Chinese firms may have been violating the Darfur arms embargo.

The Sudan report has infuriated China, which for weeks has prevented the Sudan sanctions committee from passing it to the Security Council to consider the panel’s recommendations.

Sanctions committees work on the basis of consensus, which means each member has a virtual veto.

In its report, the Sudan expert panel said Chinese bullets were found at the site of attacks against U.N.-African Union peacekeepers in Darfur, although it did not suggest the government was in any way responsible.

It is unclear when and if the Sudan report will be published.

Diplomats said they had feared China was trying to put the brakes on activities of all Security Council sanctions committees overseeing compliance with U.N. measures imposed on states China is friendly with, like Sudan and Iran.

“Maybe China has decided not to block all sanctions reports and they’ve got to have some give and take,” a diplomat said.

While China has allowed the council to impose sanctions on Iran and North Korea, it has refused to expand the 2005 arms embargo in Sudan and joined Russia in vetoing a 2008 attempt by Britain and the United States to sanction Zimbabwe’s leaders.

It has also blocked all attempts to sanction Myanmar, a country the United States and Britain have suggested deserves to be sanctioned for human rights abuses.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Myanmar’s first election in 20 years on Sunday was “insufficiently inclusive, participatory and transparent.”

ORIGINAL POST (10/28/2010): (Thanks to a reader)  Here is the final report of the “Panel of Experts” to the UN Security Council pursuant to Resolution 1874.

I post the executive summary followed by a link to the PDF of the entire report.

Executive Summary:
1. On 12 June 2009, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 1874 (2009) in which it requested the Secretary-General to establish a Panel of Experts mandated to: gather, examine and analyze information regarding the implementation of the measures imposed by the Council in resolutions 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009), in particular incidents of non-compliance; make recommendations on actions the Council, the Committee or Member States may consider to improve implementation of those measures; and, assist the 1718 Committee in carrying out its functions.

2. The measures imposed by resolution 1718 (2006) and strengthened by resolution 1874 (2009) include: (a) a ban on the provision to and the procurement from DPRK of nuclear-related, other weapons of mass destruction-related and ballistic missile-related items as well as all arms and related materiel, except for small arms and light weapons and their related materiel provided to the DPRK; (b) a ban on the transfer to or from the DPRK of services and assistance related to the provision, manufacture, maintenance or use of the proscribed items; and (c) a ban on the provision of luxury goods to the DPRK.

3. Resolution 1874 (2009) also introduced a strong interdiction system, which calls upon all Member States to inspect all cargo to and from the DPRK in their territory and to inspect vessels with the consent of the flag State on the high seas, if the Member State concerned has information that provides reasonable grounds to believe the cargo contains proscribed items. A Member State discovering such items is required to seize and dispose of them. The inspecting Member State is also required to submit a detailed report on such cases to the 1718 Committee.

4. No official allegations have been presented to the Committee since the adoption of resolution 1718 (2006) concerning the provision of proscribed nuclear-related or ballistic missile-related items, technology or know-how to or from the DPRK. Nevertheless, the Panel of Experts has reviewed several government assessments, IAEA reports, research papers and media reports indicating continuing DPRK involvement in nuclear and ballistic missile related activities in certain countries including Iran, Syria and Myanmar. The Panel of Experts believes that special attention should be given by all Member States to inhibit such activities. Further study of these suspected activities by the DPRK should be conducted for a more thorough understanding of the facts.

5. The 1718 Committee has been notified, since the adoption of resolution 1874 (2009), of four non-compliance cases involving arms exports. An analysis of these cases indicates that the DPRK continues to engage in exporting such proscribed items. In these cases, the DPRK has used a number of masking techniques in order to circumvent the Security Council measures, including false description and mislabeling of the content of the containers, falsification of the manifest covering the shipment, alteration and falsification of the information concerning the original consignor and ultimate consignee, and use of multiple layers of intermediaries, shell companies, and financial institutions. The Panel of Experts recommends in this regard that extra vigilance be exercised in accordance with local norms at the first overseas maritime port handling such DPRK shipments or transshipments with regard to containers carrying cargo originating from the DPRK. The Panel also recommends that consideration be given to introducing procedures that, without overburdening international maritime commerce, would assure that onward transshipment ports are aware of the cargo’s DPRK origin so that they could also apply extra vigilance.

6. The Panel of Experts also notes that air cargo poses certain other issues and vulnerabilities. Difficulties involved in the inspection of cargo in an aircraft in transit and inability to subject direct flights to inspection leaves in place important vulnerabilities with respect to the implementation of the resolutions. The Panel recommends that consideration be given by Member States over whose territory such aircraft may fly, stop or transit, that efforts be undertaken in those cases to closely monitor air traffic to and from Sunan and other DPRK airports, and that cargoes to and from the DPRK be declared before over flight clearance is provided.

7. The Committee has also received two reports of seizure of luxury goods. There was a clear understanding in both of these cases that the goods involved were proscribed luxury items. However, such understanding is not always present. Most national implementation reports omit any mention of luxury goods. National definitions of luxury goods vary and associated national export controls are implemented in an uneven manner, which risks undercutting the effectiveness of this measure vis-à-vis the DPRK. To close these potential gaps, the Panel of Experts proposes in this report basic principles and important factors that should be considered in designating luxury goods.

8.The DPRK also employs a broad range of techniques to mask its financial transactions, including the use of overseas entities, shell companies, informal transfer mechanisms, cash couriers and barter arrangements. However, it must still, in most cases, rely on access to the international financial system to complete its financial operations. In structuring these transactions, attempts are made to mix illicit transactions with otherwise legitimate business activities in such a way as to hide the illicit activity. Therefore, the Panel of Experts underscores the importance of exercising extra vigilance to assure that financial transactions and services do not contribute to the DPRK’s proscribed activities. Special attention is drawn, in this regard, to non proliferation and anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) principles and guidelines published by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and to FATF’s Typologies Report on Proliferation Financing.

9. The Committee has designated eight entities and five individuals for financial (and travel in the case of individuals) sanctions. These few designations seriously understate the number of known entities and individuals engaged in proscribed activities, and are inadequate to the task of effectively inhibiting key DPRK parties from engaging in proscribed activities. No account has yet been made also to deal with those substituting for or acting for or on behalf of these entities and individuals. Thus, all Member States should be invited to provide to the Committee for its consideration the names of entities and individuals who are believed to be engaged in proscribed activities, and especially those that have been implicated in non-compliance cases reported to the Committee. Consideration should also be given to making sure that those entities and individuals that are already designated are not able to avoid the Security Council measures through the use of aliases.

10. Special attention is drawn also to the fact that a substantial number of Member States have not yet filed the national implementation reports called for in the resolutions. These reports are essential to an overall evaluation of the steps being taken to implement the Security Council measures and to ensure they are implemented effectively.

Here is a link to the full report (PDF).

The report is full of data and I have added it to my Economic Statistics Page (with many other great sources of data).  You can see them all here.


Singapore reportedly toughens DPRK trade laws

Friday, October 29th, 2010

UPDATE (10/29/2010): According to the Straits Times:

Singapore has tightened its trade controls by imposing new prohibitions on transactions with North Korea and Iran.

Singapore Customs said in a statement on Friday that the latest regulatory revisions, effective from Nov 1, are timely in the light of ongoing global efforts to curb illicit diversions of controlled goods and technology to rogue entities and sanctioned countries such as North Korea and Iran. Both countries stand accused of trying to start nuclear weapons programmes.

At present, prohibitions on them include arms or related materials, certain vacuum systems and pumps, compressors and gas blowers. They also cover luxury goods such as cigars, wines and spirits and even plasma televisions. But in the revised list, there will be new prohibitions on any arms as defined by the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, and related materials.

These include among other things: weaponry, battle tanks, combat aircrafts, warships, armoured combat vehicles. The latest amendments to the list of prohibited imports, exports and goods to or from North Korea and Iran are in line with recent United Nations Security Council Resolutions’ sanctions imposed on the two countries, as well as Singapore’s continuous commitment to its international obligations.

Singapore’s trade with North Korea and Iran accounted for less than 0.4 per cent of the Republic’s total trade value of $747 billion last year. The small amount of trade typically revolved around commodities and other agricultural, tobacco and consumer goods.

Traders are strongly encouraged to implement effective internal export control compliance measures to screen the consignees and end-users of their exports, Singapore customs said.

ORIGINAL POST: According to Today Online:

After relying on its existing laws for more than a year, Singapore is adding more bite to its implementation of United Nations sanctions against North Korea.

According to documents on the Government’s electronic gazette website, the Republic is introducing additional legislation to meet its obligations to the resolution adopted in June last year by the UN Security Council (UNSC).

From Nov 1, it will be an explicit offence to breach the measures imposed by the UNSC on various individuals, entities and goods and services from the hermit kingdom.

The prohibitions will apply to all persons in Singapore and any Singaporean abroad and cover a wide range – from financial and bunkering services to the supply and procurement of certain items.

These not only include military-related material but also luxury goods, if it is believed to be in relation to any person who might be involved in North Korea’s weapons programmes. The Singapore Customs website lists 14 categories of luxury goods, such as cigars, wines and spirits, fur products, perfumes and cosmetics, plasma televisions, personal digital music players and luxury cars. Works of art and musical instruments are also included.

When the UNSC adopted the resolution last year, Singapore’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Vanu Gopala Menon, had informed the council that the city-state had the “necessary legislative framework in place to meet its obligations”. Such laws include the Strategic Goods (Control) Act, the Merchant Shipping Act and the Immigration Act.

When contacted, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson said the Republic “is obliged to implement the UNSC Resolutions on North Korea. We take these obligations seriously”.

But in his letter dated Aug 3 last year, Mr Menon also said that a regulation was being drafted to give effect to the provisions of Resolution 1874 (2009), which had been imposed in response to North Korea’s second nuclear test in May last year.

The upcoming legislation comes more than a year after the Monetary Authority of Singapore prohibited financial institutions from carrying on transactions and services with North Korea relating to banned material and listed individuals.

Few companies incorporated in Singapore have dealings with North Korea, though.

One such company is Maxgro Holdings.

According to its website, it is a concession owner and infrastructure development company that holds a 70-per-cent stake in a joint venture with the Pyongyang government to grow eight million hard-wood timber trees on a $23-million, 20,000-hectare plantation near Pyongyang. Other dealings with the Communist state include pharmaceutical and tourism projects.

Previous Singapore/DPRK posts can be found here.

Read the full story here:
S’pore toughens laws against trade with N Korea
Today Online
Esther NG


Sen. Lugar releases CRS report on DPRK sanctions

Monday, October 25th, 2010

According to Senator Lugar’s web page:

On October 22, 2010, Senator Lugar, U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member, released a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report on implementation of sanctions for North Korea.

Following renewed interest in sanctions against North Korea in the wake of the sinking of South Korea’s Cheonan ship, which killed 46 individuals, Lugar asked the CRS to evaluate the implementation of the U.N. sanctions already in place.

You can read Sen. Lugar’s original request for the report here. (PDF)

The CRS report he received can be found here. (PDF)

I have added this report to my growing collection of DPRK-focused CRS reports found here.


Ship departing from DPRK intercepted in Greece

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

According to Kathimerini:

Authorities in Piraeus today were to continue their inspection of a German-flagged French-owned vessel that had been en route to Syria from North Korea with a cargo believed to comprise banned weapons.

Following a tip-off from another country, which was not identified, Greek authorities intercepted the vessel and ordered its mooring at the port of Piraeus so checks could be carried out. Coast guard officers, military experts and members of the National Intelligence Service (EYP) participated in the inspection, which did not result in the discovery of any weapons but did turn up a large quantity of what a government source yesterday described as “nonmilitary material that could have a dual use.” This material reportedly included pieces of metal and pipes that could be used in the construction of missile launchers.

The United Nations Security Council agreed in June last year to ban the export of all weapons from North Korea.

According to Reuters:

The expanded sanctions were aimed at cutting off its arms sales, a vital export estimated to earn it more than $1 billion a year.

North Korea’s biggest weapons sales come from ballistic missiles, with Iran and other Middle Eastern states as customers, according to U.S. government officials.

Read the full stories here:
Ship checked for weapons

Greece searches ship for North Korean arms – source