+ A

U.S. raises alarm at UN about sanctions evasion

Sept 17,2018
The United States has called an urgent meeting of the United Nations Security Council for Monday to talk about recent efforts by some member states “to undermine and obstruct” North Korea sanctions implementation.

The meeting is set to take place at the UN headquarters in New York at 10 a.m. on Monday.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in is planning to visit Pyongyang from Tuesday to Thursday for his third summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, which means that the result of the UN meeting will be released just before he arrives.

The U.S. Mission to the UN said in a statement last Friday evening that the urgent meeting will “discuss the implementation and enforcement of UN sanctions on North Korea.” Without giving any names, the mission said “some” member states were evading them.

It appears Russia is one of them, as U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley accused Moscow on Thursday of trying to pressure the UN’s independent panel of experts on the implementation of UN sanctions against the North to alter its independent report, which included sanctions violations “implicating Russian actors.”

According to the U.S. mission, a report from the panel was submitted to the UN Security Council last week, but it was not the same independent report that was submitted to the UN’s North Korea sanctions committee last month.

The new report was “amended at the request of Russia,” the mission said.

“Russia can’t be allowed to edit and obstruct independent UN reports on North Korea sanctions just because they don’t like what they say,” said Haley. “We’re disappointed in the panel for caving to Russian pressure and making changes to what should be an independent report. This is a dangerous precedent and a stain on the important work of the panel.”

The envoy went on, “We’ve seen the original report and we know the truth. The panel should do the right thing and release it.”

During a press conference at the U.S. State Department on Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reaffirmed that Washington was committed as ever to continuing to enforce UN Security Council resolutions.

“We believe they are central to [U.S. President Donald] Trump’s efforts to convince Chairman Kim [Jong-un] that full, final denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is necessary,” said Pompeo, “and that it needs to be done in a way that the world can see that there’s been this strategic change in Chairman Kim’s core understanding of how he will improve a better future for the North Korean people.”

Pompeo continued that Washington was continuing to have many conversations with the North about how to achieve all the commitments that were made during the first summit between Trump and Kim in Singapore on June 12.

Exactly what violations were spelled out in the confidential UN report is unknown, but the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), which claimed to have reviewed it, wrote Saturday that the report cites fresh evidence of illicit arms sales, disguised fuel shipments and outlawed financial dealings. The paper did not specify whether it was referring to the original version or the Russian-influenced, revised version.

North Korea was said to have been caught selling arms to Syria, Yemen, Libya and other conflict zones around the world, as well as importing massive amounts of fuel through transfers involving Russian and Chinese ships. The report also cited numerous examples of coal shipments from North Korea to China that were structured to avoid surveillance.

The panel of experts was said to have concluded that the violations render the latest UN sanctions ineffective by flouting the caps on North Korea’s import of petroleum products and crude oil as well as the coal ban imposed in 2017. The latest UN report also pointed the finger at China, said the WSJ, accusing North Korea’s largest trading partner of purchasing banned goods from the regime, forming joint ventures and allowing financial agents to operate within China.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]