Global Policy Forum

U.N. Report Raises Concerns about North Korea Sanctions

A new U.N. report has shown that a majority of states have lagged on compliance with sanctions against North Korea. All states are required to submit reports on their implementation of sanctions resolutions, but 111 of 192 member states have not. Officials and diplomats have had difficulty determining whether the delays are due to capacity issues or political dissent. In any case, the report highlights the problems inherent in the enforcement of sanctions resolutions - including those imposed on Iran.




By Louis Charbonneau

June 12, 2010

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A report from a U.N. panel that monitors compliance with sanctions on North Korea showed more than 100 countries may not be doing enough to implement the punitive steps.

The latest report to the U.N. Security Council from the Panel of Experts on North Korea, obtained by Reuters, said 111 of the 192 U.N. member states -- mostly developing nations -- had not submitted reports on their implementation of the council's two sanctions resolutions against North Korea.

Those resolutions, adopted in 2006 and 2009 in response to Pyongyang's two nuclear tests, restricted arms deals, banned trade in technology usable in nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, called for travel bans and asset freezes and banned North Korean imports of luxury goods.

Some 30 countries submitted reports on their implementation of the first sanctions resolution, number 1718, but not the second, number 1874.

"Basically what this tells us is there's a lot more work that needs to be done to implement the DPRK (North Korea) sanctions," a Security Council diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Another envoy agreed.

"Often developing countries simply don't have the resources to implement the sanctions properly," he said, adding this created potential weak spots and openings for countries like North Korea, Iran and others to skirt U.N. sanctions.

U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the sanctions have been successful, as shown by several seizures of banned goods Pyongyang attempted to transfer to other states.

"As with any sanctions regime, we can improve implementation and the panel's report offers some strong and useful recommendations to strengthen the sanctions regime," Toner said.


Recently the expert panel concluded that North Korea has been exporting nuclear and ballistic missile technology to countries like Myanmar, Syria and Iran with the aid of front companies around the world.

Myanmar, Syria and Iran are among the 111 countries that failed to report on how they have implemented resolutions 1718 and 1874. Myanmar has denied having any nuclear weapons plans.

Russia and China, like developed Western nations, submitted reports on their implementation of the sanctions. Analysts and diplomats say Beijing and Moscow have been lax about applying sanctions against both North Korea and Iran, although they say that both have become more vigilant recently.

Earlier this year, South Africa told the Security Council's North Korea sanctions committee it intercepted a North Korean arms shipment bound for Central Africa, which diplomats said was a violation of a U.N. ban on arms sales by Pyongyang.

In December 2009, Thai authorities confiscated over 35 tons of arms from a cargo plane they said had come from North Korea after the aircraft made an emergency landing in Bangkok.

Last's year's expanded sanctions against North Korea were aimed at cutting off its arms sales, a vital export estimated to earn the destitute state 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.

The U.N. sanctions and the cut-off of handouts from South Korea have dealt a heavy blow to the North, which has an estimated gross domestic product of just $17 billion, and could eventually force it back to nuclear disarmament talks in the hopes of winning aid, analysts say.

The Security Council is expected to receive a briefing from South Korea next week on an international investigation into the sinking of a South Korean naval ship, which Seoul says was torpedoed by North Korea.

North Korea denies responsibility for the incident, which left 46 sailors dead.

(Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed in Washington; Editing by John O'Callaghan)


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