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North Korea Crisis

North Korea earned nearly $200m evading export bans: UN report

Sanctions panel alleges Taiwan-based smuggling network keeps oil flowing to Pyongyang

RINA TAKAHASHI, Nikkei staff writer | North Korea

NEW YORK -- North Korea overcame international sanctions to export nearly $200 million in commodities such as coal between January and September 2017 as well as continue importing oil, according to a United Nations report published Thursday.

Despite a ban on coal exports by North Korea to U.N. member states, the country managed to ship the fuel to markets including China, Russia, Vietnam, Malaysia and even South Korea, the expert panel of the U.N. Security Council Sanctions Committee on North Korea said.

Coal was routed through eastern Russia and China and furnished with false documentation to obscure its origins, according to the report.

The isolated state has evaded restrictions on petroleum imports using ship-to-ship transfers on the high seas, the panel said. The report details an international smuggling network based in Taiwan, involving companies registered in territories such as the Marshall Islands and British Virgin Islands and ships flagged in Dominica, mainland China, Hong Kong, Panama and Sierra Leone.

Japan and other countries have raised suspicions that North Korea uses such transfers to secure oil supplies and have called for increased international surveillance.

Despite bans on North Korea's weapons trade, a U.N. member state notified the panel of evidence that Myanmar had received ballistic missile systems, rocket launchers and surface-to-air missiles from the North. A group of North Korean missile technicians has also visited Syria, the report said.

A crane seen loading a North Korean midrange ballistic missile in May 2017 appears to be Japanese in origin, according to the report. The presumed manufacturer acknowledged that two cranes were exported to the North in 1992, before the Security Council imposed sanctions. The crane also could have been purchased second-hand, the report said.

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