North Korea Made $200M Off Banned Coal Exports

Phillip Cunningham
February 5, 2018

North Korea earned $200 million a year ago by exporting banned commodities in breach of worldwide sanctions, according to a United Nations report.

Pyongyang has been subject to sanctions in a bid to choke funding for its ballistic and missiles program.

The U.N. and United States have introduced a wave of sanctions aimed at curbing North Korea's development of nuclear weapons, including by seeking to reduce its access to crude oil and refined petroleum products.

The UN monitors also said that one unnamed country reported it had evidence that Myanmar received ballistic missile systems from North Korea. It has also allegedly supplied weapons to Syria and Myanmar.

Myanmar's Ambassador to the United Nations said the country had no arms relationship with North Korea.

Myanmar's UN Ambassador Hau Do Suan said the Myanmar government "has no ongoing arms relationship, whatsoever, with North Korea" and is abiding by the UN Security Council resolutions. The false paperwork apparently showed countries such as Russian Federation and China as the origin of the merchandise, instead of North Korea.

"[North Korea] continued to export almost all the commodities prohibited in the resolutions, generating nearly US$200 million in revenue between January and September 2017", said the report by the experts. "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.


According to a panel of experts, both Syria and Myanmar continue to work with North Korea's main arms exporter, KOMID, which is on the UN's sanctions blacklist. 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.

It pointed out "extensive use of a combination of multiple evasion tactics including indirect routes, detours, loitering, false documentation, trans-shipment through third countries" and other methods to obfuscate routes and hide the origin of North Korean coal.

Shortages would lead to serious humanitarian problems, he said, adding: "Official representatives of Pyongyang have made it clear that a blockade would be interpreted by North Korea as a declaration of war, with all the subsequent consequences".

"The network of foreign traders responsible for violations of the coal ban operates through numerous front companies registered in multiple jurisdictions", the committee said.

It urges all countries involved to step up their monitoring of North Korea.

The UN monitors also investigated ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products, violating UN sanctions.

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