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Front Companies, Embassies Mask North Korean Weapons Trade – U.N

A North Korean flag is seen on top of a tower near the truce village of Panmunjom in the DMZ

Pyongyang – North Korea has developed sophisticated ways to circumvent U.N. sanctions, including the suspected use of its embassies to facilitate an illegal trade in weapons, a United Nations report issued on Tuesday said. It said North Korea was also making use of more complicated financial countermeasures and techniques “pioneered by drug-trafficking organizations” that made tracking the isolated state’s purchase of prohibited goods more difficult.

The report, compiled by a panel of eight U.N. experts, is part of an annual accounting of North Korea’s compliance with layers of U.N. sanctions imposed in response to Pyongyang’s banned nuclear weapons and missile programs. The panel reports to the U.N. Security Council. “From the incidents analyzed in the period under review, the panel has found that (North Korea) makes increasing use of multiple and tiered circumvention techniques,” a summary of the 127-page report said.

China, North Korea’s main trading partner and diplomatically, appeared to have complied with most of the panel’s requests for information. Some independent experts and Western countries question how far Beijing has gone in implementing sanctions, although the report did not specifically address that issue. China has said it wants sanctions enforced.

Much of the report focused on North Korea’s overseas trade networks, rather than its relationship with China. Indeed, the panel said it found a relatively complex “corporate ecosystem” of foreign-based firms and individuals that helped North Korea evade scrutiny of its assets as well as its financial and trade dealings. (Reuters)

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